WHAT IS THE “BJJ LIFESTYLE”
Author: Luke Docherty
Photo Credit: Luke Bender
As I sit here typing this I have to think back to my first 6 months training Jiu Jitsu and what I thought the BJJ Lifestyle was and laugh. Sitting on the beach, training 3 times a day, surfing eating acai and ossing/shakaring anyone within eyesight, wearing nothing but BJJ shirts and fight shorts and while there is no doubt there are many people who lead that exact lifestyle, for 95% of us it simply isn’t a possibility, at least for the long term anyway.
It is obvious that everyone’s version of the BJJ Lifestyle is going to be slightly different, but it all has the same focus and that is to become a better version of ourselves on the mats then we were the day before. Not all of us have the luxury to spend more time on the mats then we do off. However, when we do get the chance to train we train to our fullest capability with the aim of getting better every time.
A lot of people talk about the shift in mindset that Jiu Jitsu has given them, you think about how you can improve yourself physically, what changes you can make to your diet, how you can integrate your strength and conditioning routine into your BJJ schedule, how much sleep you need to recover, your alcohol intake and how much time you should spend training vs resting. For me the shift in this mindset was well underway when I began Jiu Jitsu, I had previously started a massive weight loss journey prior to starting Jiu Jitsu and had lost sixty-one kilograms before I ever stepped foot on the mats, so to me this “mindset” change didn’t occur. My diet was clean, I had a nice workout routine in place already and BJJ complemented it nicely. I don’t sleep as much as I should, but shit happens. My alcohol intake drastically reduced when I embarked on my weight loss journey, however I still find there is nothing better than a nice cold beer with my training partners after we finish a training session.
One thing I have noticed that has changed for me since beginning BJJ is that if I go more than a few days without training I become frustrated and my moods are not as high as they are when I have trained. I have had many conversations with other guys and girls who train, and this seems to be a common ground we all share, and it makes sense. When you enjoy what you are doing naturally you are going to be in a good mood, but when you exert as much energy as you do during a class or a rolling session this has the potential to send your endorphins through the roof resulting in a couple of day long high in some cases. You only need to speak to someone who has suffered an injury long enough to keep them off the mats longer than a few weeks to see the change training has to the mind state, but then again is this specific to BJJ or is it just because we all love it so much? I’m sure cross fitters, kick boxers and runners all experience the same feeling after they train.
So, what does the BJJ Lifestyle mean to me?
In my current work life situation, I work in a Port two hours flight North of Perth. I spend eight days at a time away from home and six days off work completely, however I am married with two kids who both now rely on my wife and I to get them to Netball training and games which in turn takes up 3 nights a week and the first half of our Saturdays. We also run two businesses, so it’s fair to say my time to hit the mats when I am in Perth is VERY limited. To make it to a class is become harder, however I am lucky enough to have a set up in the garage and a few mates that will come and train at random times of the day/night I still manage to get after it. It is especially helpful that one of the guys I train with frequently is doing exactly what I have said most of us can’t and trains numerous times a day, eats acai and has no worries about work, oh and he already has a World Title to his name. . . So, when I ask him if he wants to train at five am he very rarely says no.
Let’s take a look at what my schedule looks like when I am up at work. I fly to site at 6 am every Tuesday and work a twelve hour day. Eight days straight, no days off. Which isn’t as bad as some of the people working Fly In Fly Out in the mining/ports industry. Generally, my work day commences at three-thirty am when the alarm goes off, I hit the gym then I head to breakfast get some lunch and I will be in the office by five-thirty. The day to day side of things vary for me, some days I will be in the field training all day, and others I will spend in front of the computer updating assessments, writing documents, and other general admin shit, thrown in with a little bit of procrastination. When I first started working away, the only time I would get in the gyms was to lift weights with very little mat time and the time we got was usually on a tarp spread out on the rock hard ground that is common across the region. When I moved to my current place of employment I found that there were a lot more people who liked to roll. I found some second-hand mats and quickly got to spreading the word. Everyone who works here is on different rosters but there is always at least one guy who rolls here when I am on, and on a good swing it’s been common to see at least seven or eight guys on the mats of varying levels. It has now become possible to roll at least six of the eight nights I am away. Due to the nature of employment and the physicality of many jobs up here, most of the guys are big strong dudes so it makes for some tough rolls, not to mention that we never really have any beginners come in. It’s generally couple year Blue Belts and up, more recently we have had guys with over fifteen years’ experience come in and throw us a round. It’s funny how things change, when I first started working away I was training every day on my day off and then barely at all when I was away, now I get to hit the mats almost every night at work and every second day at home. Although the Acai bowls and surf are limited in Port Hedland, during the summer months at home they may pop up from time to time. Oh, and although you may catch me throwing shakas every now and then it will be very rare that you will hear me walking around ossing.
I like to travel, and I do quite a lot of it, most of the time it’s for work, sometimes it’s with family and sometimes it is specifically to train. One thing is for sure though every single time I go away, there is always staples I will pack. Some people will worry about aftershaves, hair straighteners, razors etc. Personally, I will always have at the very minimum a set of no gi gear pack along with a Gi. They may get use, they may not, but there would be nothing worse than getting to a location finding some Jiu Jitsu and not having the gear required to take to the mats and train, if I am on a family holiday this always pisses my wife off, but she never says anything and allows me to pack one Gi anyway. This leads me to the Free Rollers brand that I began, it sees me packaging together trips to exotic locations around the world with the aim of training and living like a local for the time we are there. These trips really do embrace the “Ideal” BJJ Lifestyle meaning and allow people to experience it for themselves first hand. They embrace local culture while training in the world’s best gyms under some of the world’s best coaches. Depending on the location in between training sessions you will find us on the beach, in the local acai bar or exploring the market places. No matter where we are there is a strong focus on training and building lasting relationships around the world through the great art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
Before I started BJJ I used to write quite a lot however most of my ramblings were about self-help, with the aim of motivating others to make a change in their lives not dissimilar to the ones I made in my own, to aid them in the weight loss journey, to show them that they are not alone and that no matter how hard it may seem at the time, that it can be done and how good of a feeling looking back 12 months down the path and seeing how far you have come. Since I started training, I was given the opportunity to write for BJJ Legends, Jiu Jitsu times, and now Mat Savage so most of my writing for the past few years has been tailored toward the Jiu Jitsu community, not only have I been producing BJJ articles, but I have been connecting with Brands here in Australia and putting them in the spotlight with interviews gaining insight behind the brand finding out what makes them tick, I have also run reviews for these guys/girls along with some of the biggest brands in the world, such as Datsusara, Tatami, Origin, Hold Fast and many more.
Anyway, you probably get the picture, everyone’s version of the BJJ lifestyle is significantly different. Not everyone can pack it all in and spend 6/8 hours a day on the mats especially at a Blue/Purple belt level, 98% of us have financial obligations that come along well before we started BJJ so trying to make a living of our fine art is a distant dream. One thing is certain though no matter where we go or what we do, when we meet someone else who also shares the same passion we will share stories, we will talk about our training partners and coaches, we will talk our favorite grapplers and then if the location and time permits we will slap bump and roll our way into a new friendship.
Just because you aren’t sitting on the beach lapping up the sun, surf and acai doesn’t mean you aren’t living the BJJ lifestyle. Sharing the passion with others, training and generally living your life with BJJ splattered throughout is enough!
If you enjoyed the read, please share this on the socials and be sure to let me know what your version of the BJJ Lifestyle is!