Why I started training and what the submission grappling articles are about

Why I started training martial arts?

The short answer is fear and tired of being afraid.

I know I am not alone in this but even now at 40 this topic is extremely difficult for me to talk about (but in explaining there is some cathartic release). I was a small, immature, emotional child and was bullied mercilessly. A social outcast throughout school, which lead to having very little self-worth, an inability to talk to people and anger management problems (which haunt me to this day). Looking back, it was no ones fault, anxiety and depression were taboo subjects and people simply didn’t know what they know now.

Young me thought if I was "hard" bullies would leave me alone and id have friends... Finally my parents let me train at 15 and took me to a classical jiu-jitsu club. Most of the higher grades were doormen or cops and they pressure tested everything. I finally learned to fight, learned techniques that worked, got beaten over and over again, I loved it.

I moved to Manchester and found a club at university run by a guy called Chris Bacon (a boxer and judo Olympian). We thought we were learning no holds barred, really we just brawled and I learned next to nothing. Someone put me onto Karl Tanswell but for whatever reason (alcohol, cigarettes, women and mostly fear) I didn’t find the courage to go for over a year.

Training at Karl’s gym in Spear street I quickly found out three things, I knew nothing, I was at the bottom of a very steep learning curve and being 6'2", ridiculously strong and ridiculously clumsy really harmed my learning. I got smashed every lesson by everyone. Being clumsy as fuck, I couldn’t do the agility ladder drills, constantly kicked the ladders, didn’t get any of the movements when we did the introduction portion, etc. Just turning up was my biggest challenge. 

A random pick from SBG Manchester. 
The author is in the top right corner.

I took privates with a purple belt called Glyn, this was when I saw exponential growth in my understanding. Somehow I got my bluebelt, I think Karl took pity on me for hanging around for so long. Around this time I hurt my back and was working abroad a lot, jits became a distant second.

I drifted off into Thai boxing for a couple of years, then when SBG Mainline opened I went back to Karl. I thought because of my back I would never roll again, someone, (Casey I think) convinced me to roll and I found I could (thanks guys). This was when jits changed for me, I found the love of playing open guard and was able to zone out when I rolled.

I moved to New Zealand in 2014. I love the vibe and guys at Coast Academy. Which is where you find me now. 

What are the submission grappling articles about?

I refer to these articles as submission grappling for a few reasons. Whilst I mostly train Brazilian JiuJitsu my passion is really "grappling that works", whether that be in a sporting contest, sparring in the gym or in "da street".

BJJ gives me a lot of tools that work but I have found (as I believe most of my coaches and mentors did) I need to cross-train other styles. My obsession for the past few years has been with wrestling and adding concepts and techniques from that to my game. I study and experiment with techniques from Greco, Collegiate, Olympic, Catch, Freestyle and incorporate what works for me. To me what I do isn't BJJ, it is submission grappling with a foundation of BJJ.

Another reason for this label is that I do not want this to be yet another BJJ blog, there's enough of them already. How are these articles going to be different from others then?

Firstly, I won't be writing about techniques. Since I moved to New Zealand I have been very interested in off the mat learning. Most of us in the BJJ community are hobbyists, a lot of the material out there is produced by professional grapplers or gym owners. I want to add the perspective of the day to day guy.

If you have read my other articles you may have gathered I have had my fair share of issues with mental health. Before I got into meditation, Jits was (and still is) my meditation.  There are still social taboos about mental health, especially among men.  I would like to see that change and perhaps me being honest about my problems and how training has helped over the years will do that.  

Another angle is that I am getting older, I want to write about how I approach mobility, the never-ending battle with injuries, as an older grappling (I will not be talking about old man strength or old man ego as I like to think of it) the list goes on.

There are just a few things you can expect to read about under the submission grappling label. 

Peace Andy


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