What makes BJJ different?

Having now been training for almost two months I feel as though I am no longer the new guy, many new faces have commenced their BJJ journey in the time from here to now. I try my best to welcome them as I was welcomed and be a friendly face to spot out. It is amazing seeing the range of people and body types come into training, from some old boys and a lot more women than I would have thought. Short to tall, stick thin to the odd beer belly. It is very different from other martial arts. Where there are mostly men, mostly somewhat athletic builds, the odd person that breaks the mold. So, I have been thinking, what makes Jiu-jitsu so different? Why are people attracted to the martial art?

  1. The simple complexity.

Jiu-jitsu is actually quite complex (as I am finding out); however, the complex is made simple in its teaching. The complexity of body weight, positional control, timing, leverage, physics, and biology. All can be taught, through drilling and rolling. Through drilling you are taught via your instructor, rolling you are taught from your experiences. Both are needed for overall development. However, drilling is where you learn the complexities, the little nuances. Where you should have your body weight, over your heals, through your opponent, on your hands. When you should use certain techniques, pass, continue to control or submit. Rolling is where you learn if you should let something go to either reset or move on to another submission or a better position. The joy in learning comes from the challenge of the complexities, even though the concepts are simple. Worst case scenario (if it ends up on the ground), get into a dominant position, control and submit. Best case, walk away.

  1. It just works.

Having come from other martial arts that are focused on striking, Jiu-jitsu is very different. In a fight where anything can happen, you can know the fanciest kick and you could still get clipped by someone with little to no experience. Whereas with Jiu-jitsu, in the worst case, an attacker on top of you throwing punches, you do have a chance. Trap and roll, get into mount, control and finish the fight. From the get-go, you can see that it works, you can feel that it works. When you are drilling and slowly getting the concepts, you can understand that if you are untrained and get into a difficult position you are pretty much fucked. I have a strong belief that knowing how to defend yourself is a skill everyone must learn, and everyone should dabble in all aspects of a fight, however, if I only had one skill in a fight, it would be Jiu-jits. I was showing one of my friends the effectiveness of it recently, he was a bit hesitant, but I convinced him to at least let me show him that he should learn a little bit of jiu-jitsu. I told him that in Jiu-jitsu you are still able to finish a fight even off your back, to demonstrate this I used him as the attacker, and in less than 30 seconds I put him in a triangle, to which he was very impressed with the effectiveness of BJJ. It was at that moment when I thought about if he had actually been an attacker and had I not known any Jiu-jitsu, he would have easily done a lot of damage.

  1. The underlying culture of the art.

Jiu-jitsu as a martial art has one of the best cultures, one that is welcoming, positive, ego-free, so fun you want to do and learn more. Obviously, this will change from place to place. However, you can see the laid-back attitude, the happy go lucky smiles, and family orientated values that originate with the Gracie family which have spread on to their students. I have not met any of the Gracie’s yet, but you can see it in videos and media, which is so appealing to many people, especially those that are timid and shy. It is amazing seeing people grow, even though I have only been training for a small amount of time, I have witnessed many transformations. At our academy, two brothers started a few months ago, and just this week they both received their first stipe. When they started they were very shy, but when they got their stripes, you couldn’t wipe the smiles off their faces. They have also come out of their shells, even if only a little bit, it is still some form of growth. The culture allows for people to grow, it isn’t one of put-downs and shaming, it’s one of congratulations and constructive tips.

  1. The many lessons and skills that can be gained from it.

The usual skills that can be gained from other martial arts like discipline, controlling one’s emotions, improved self-esteem, work ethic, etc.  are all apart of Jiu-jitsu. However, I believe that Jiu-jitsu has more to offer, skills and life lessons that are applicable all throughout one’s life. Being humble and removing your ego is one of the life lessons that many should learn, training BJJ you are constantly put into compromised positions, since that you must be the feed for your partner when drilling. You have to remove your ego and let them practice a triangle or a Rear naked choke, obviously, if you let your ego get in the way, you won’t have a partner. One of the biggest ones that I have learned recently, is to let go and trade up. Can’t complete the Kimura, take the back. Can’t get the triangle, double ankle sweep. This can be applied in life, can’t get the promotion, leave and find a different company. Girlfriend leaves you, use the time to hang out with friends and family. You can always see the positive in each situation, it’s all about perspective.

  1. Your body size, strength, flexibility does not matter.

Seeing the range of people and body types are proof that you don’t have to be of a certain type of person or athletic ability. Even when I have watched competitions there are many different styles and body types. Jiu-jitsu accommodates for all. Seeing as BJJ was designed for the weaker and smaller person, its able to be performed by anyone. I would recommend it as the first martial art to learn to anyone wanting to learn self-defense, it is practical and having some knowledge is better than no knowledge.

These points I have made are only the surface of the martial art, I hope to gain more understanding of Jiu-jitsu and learn more about what it has to offer not just to me but to others. It is a challenging sport, but the hardest thing, like in many cases, is to start. Jiu-jitsu has really opened up a lot of things for me, and to be honest, the only trouble that I have with it is that I didn’t start it sooner. So, if you think you would like to learn it, then learn it, look up an academy, call up, come down. Walking through the doors is the hardest thing, but get in the car and do it.

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See you on the mats.

Becoming responsible for my thoughts and actions, and the tools I use daily.

Taking on responsibility, this is something that I have been getting better at. I have taken on the things that I can control, I have started doing the things that I want to do. I have stopped blaming things on people, when it is really on me, my actions and emotions that would otherwise rule my life. Being positive even around negative people is incredibly difficult, yet I try to be as positive as I can. People will always try to bring you into their state, one of misery and suffering, instead of trying to come up to your level. Either they see it as you aren’t being realistic, they don’t want to change out of their ways, even if they know it will be of some benefit or they see it as too tough. I thought that this way of thinking was mostly limited to the older generations, but I see this at every age. By not listening to outside influences that promote thoughts and behaviors that I don’t want a part of, has made it easier. I now don’t watch the news/tv or listen to the radio or read the newspaper, as it gives me information that I see as wasting my brain’s storage. Don’t get me wrong I still think that knowing the gist of a little news is good, but by limiting the amount of information received you can turn your attention towards things that you want to do. Like projects, hobbies and seeking information that you want to know. So, instead I listen to podcasts, watch YouTube videos on topics that interest me, and I read books that I know I will be able to take something from. Of course, there is the rabbit hole of YouTube, and I have gotten better at combating it by becoming more disciplined in my time management.

Through controlling what I have around me, the information I receive and take in, I have started to emulate a feedback loop of sorts. By reconfirming things that I listen to, read and watch, I then start doing. By doing the thing, I then get back positive results, further affirming my thoughts and therefore actions. What I do is something that anyone can do. Anyone can listen to the podcasts I listen to, anyone can read the books I read, anyone can watch the videos I watch. However, not everyone will think like me, not everyone will get the results like me. I’m not saying that everyone should think my thoughts and do what I do, I’m stating that they will not get the results they desire because they do not put in the work, they do not turn thoughts into actions. This is the critical component, this is the catalyst for what everyone wants in their lives.

Fear is usually the obstacle that catches many (covered in my book review: Feel the fear). Sometimes I think it is more, sometimes I look back on the person I used to be. One that blamed procrastination on genetics, I used to leave my homework until the night before it was due. One that would say I couldn’t do something because I wasn’t good at it. I never thought I could write, and my results proved it to me. Until I stopped blaming my circumstances on things other than myself, I would never be able to do the things I wanted to do. So, along with confronting my fears, I had to take full responsibility for my thoughts, actions, emotions, the information I was taking in from the people I wanted to.

I know I have previously written about positivity being bullshit, which is true, however, if you are continently taking in the right amount and applying yourself to maximize your output, then positivity is good. However, like everything it must be regulated, staying up and watching video after video with no action on your end will not do you any good. The feedback loop I talked about before can do an amazing job here, you get a thought, you act on that thought, you get results, the results affirm your thought. I use this process for writing, on projects, in jiu-jitsu, pretty much in most aspects of my life. Of course, I don’t let others dictate if my results are good or bad, because of the values I have set up, most of my results are good. If one person reads and likes my blog post then that’s a win for me. Now you say, well you will always win then, but if it creates a good feedback loop in my head, then why not? If I take it step by step and keep moving forward then I will slowly be able to change more and more people. This is my one of the bigger goals that I have for this blog, I want to change the way people feel about themselves, and I hope to inspire those around me, to inspire those around them. I see it that as inspiring in itself, people changing their attitudes and putting thoughts into actions inspires me. So, whenever someone tells me that I have given them a kick up the arse, it reminds me that what I write has power and drives me further.

So, what is it that you can take from this post? Well for starters, face your fears. I use an exercise, which I forget where I found it. It is the task of asking yourself why you won’t do something, or why you find something difficult. (It can really be used for anything.) However, it is not about asking yourself why just once, it’s about asking why until you get to the root cause of whatever seems to be bothering you. For instance: Problem might be, starting a project that I have been wanting to start for a while.

Why have I not started this project?

Because I am scared/unsure about how to start it.

Why are you scared?

Because it is something new that I have never faced before, and I don’t know anyone that would be able to help me.

Why do you need to get help from someone? Have you looked for some guidance?

            I know of people but I am scared to ask them.

This leads me to not only the root of the cause but allows me to determine what I should do. It almost makes it so obvious that it removes the fear that I had in the first place. Of course, the exercise will not work if you do not answer the question of why with some clarity and thought. You do not what to give broad and open-ended answers, like “because I don’t feel like it.” Usually, there is more than just not feeling like it, as that too can be asked why you don’t feel like it.

Another exercise I do, especially with goals, is I set ones that are attainable. For instance, read for 20 minutes a day, instead of setting it so that I aim to read for an hour. Usually, you will read for more than 20 minutes. Then the next week aim to read for a little longer per day. There is no rush to try and get up to your end goal of 2 hours a day, step by step. This can be used for everything, study, writing, spending time with loved ones, meditating. It is all about making the mindset switch of hitting goals, if you set out these unrealistic goals right away, not reaching them will deter you from ever setting them again. So, conditioning yourself into reaching goals, and even overachieving will help in changing your inner workings where achieving goals becomes a 70% hit rate. Instead of never hitting them.

Journaling is probably one of the best exercises I do, it is the one I first started with, it was part of my new year’s resolution. Benjamin Franklin said, “either write something worth reading or do things worth writing.” So, keeping this in mind I try and do things throughout my day worth writing about, obviously not in the history books just yet, but things that I am proud to write about. Once again I never scrutinize myself if I have not completed a task, however, I use the magic of positive reinforcement when I complete tasks and goals.

Another is fear setting, in which I go into more detail in a post that can be found here. Fear setting is much like goal setting, however, you set out your fears, enabling you to deconstruct any obstacles and negative thoughts that might be inhibiting you. For instance, I was not feeling like I would give my all if I continued at university this year, I was fearful of what would happen if I differed this year. Fearful of what Friends and family would think of me, fearful of not knowing what I would do for the year and many other fears that I won’t get in to. However, I can say that fear setting brought me out of stasis, giving me a better understanding of how insignificant my fears really were and gave me a clear direction that was aligned with the goals I had set for myself.

Now I don’t expect anyone one to use any of these tools, they are just the ones that I have found to work, they may work for you and I hope that you give them a try. If you need anything cleared up with any of the tools I have provided please email me or shoot me a message. Also, don’t read this and tell yourself that you don’t have time, because a lot of them can be used and completed in less than 30 minutes, and if you don’t have time then you are poor at managing it. Hopefully, you can take something from this post and maybe give one of the tools I have set out a try. Ultimately it is up to you to take on the responsibility of your life and be accountable for how it plays out and what path you take.

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See you on the mats.

Podcast 001 – Robbie Singh

This originally wasn’t going to be a podcast of sorts, but it went so well that I thought may as well release the interview. Robbie works as a Senior Behavioral Analysist, specializing in working with children with autism, teaching and giving them skills to improve their lives and to allow them to become more independent. and is an instructor at Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Burwood, he has a black belt under 3rd Degree Black Belt Professor David Krstic. We cover:

  • Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu vs Gracie Jiu-Jitsu.
  • How he got into Jiu-Jitsu.
  • The difference between most martial arts and Jiu-Jitsu, the effectiveness of each against more athletic or stronger opponents.
  • How Jiu-Jitsu has not only helped him lose weight but also changed his mentality.
  • How JJ checks your ego.
  • The common mistakes he sees students do.
  • His role models that have helped shape his life.
  • The humble beginnings of his family.
  • His connection with Rener Gracie and the contagious (R)energy he brings.
  • His ‘a-ha’ realization of the effectiveness of Jiu-Jitsu.
  • His long-term goals for the club and himself.
  • Turning negative events into positive outcomes.
  • The importance of culture in clubs.
  • Increasing awareness of Jiu-Jitsu to Australia.
  • Books he read before using Gracie University to learn techniques and the Gracie philosophy.
  • His favourite techniques, to show when demonstrating, to use and most used.
  • Not listening to negativity and learning to listen to constructive criticism.
  • Loving Jiu-jitsu even when you are getting submitted.
  • The mindset change once you start jiu-jitsu. And the contagious positive effects of it.
  • Getting parents down to the academy, and how his mum was his first women empowered student.
  • The effect of advertising the culture of the club on social media.
  • And a little gift from Robbie to the listeners.

Unfortunately being a rookie in the audio world the sound quality is not the best, I am open to suggestions as to how to improve the quality of the podcasts. I am also looking for others to interview. 

Shout out and thank you to Robbie for taking time out of his day to come on and share his knowledge and experiences. You can follow him at:

Facebook: Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Burwood

Instagram: Gracieburwood

Website: graciejiujitsuburwood.com.au

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See you on the mats.

Take the advice, but don’t listen to them

I have recently applied for an intermission from my course, I suppose to try something different other than being a student, but not only that, to experience other things. Other jobs, places, cultures, languages, to try my hand at building something I can be proud of. By doing something that I was not told to do, rather something I wanted to do. During this process of thinking about what I should do, fear setting and talking with friends, family and work colleagues, a large portion of them have told me that I should attempt to finish my studies. “It’s only two more years, you could do that.” I can see where they are coming from, give myself better options down the track, more options for work, for career goals, more money. I understand that they all want to help, however, if I am not putting in my best work, why should I continue? If I am not giving it my all, my 100% at something I feel as though I am cheating myself. Yes, I could try to give my all, but having been “trying” last year I know myself and I would not give it this year. I would fail subjects that I would normally easily pass, I learnt from my mistakes of my first tertiary course out of high school. If I continued and failed or barely passed I would have shown that I learnt nothing from my year and a half at Monash. Do not continue with something if you cannot give your all. I am not sure if I will find the drive again from taking this year off, or if I try my hand at something else altogether. However, I know that I have zero drive as of now for studying. I will not preach something that I myself do not follow.

If you too are thinking of changing something in your life, I recommend tuning out the white noise of 99% of people that will give you their input on how you should live your life. It is your life, if you do not want to stay in something you do not enjoy or like, the simple answer is don’t. There will be a plethora of people in your life telling you that you have made the wrong decision, that you should do this or that, it’s only two years. It is surprising how little that is, in the grand scheme of things, it’s nothing. But a year is even less, if you feel that you need a year off. Take it. It is only one year, it is not like a year is going to make a big impact if you do go back to studying. Who knows, you may find something that you enjoy, even more, you may find someone that will change your life, you may experience something that you never would have experienced if you didn’t take the year off. There are pros and cons of every decision you make. If you look at each choice in the light that it is a win, then all decisions you make are wins, as long as you make some form of gain, which you will, because there are always takeaways from everything.

When I was younger, I really cared about what people said about me, what I should do and how I should do it. I would often listen to my fathers every word, now this is no fault of his and I love him all the same. I understand that he tried to guide my lost soul to something that would bring me some form of success. He knew that I could be good at whatever I wanted to be good at. However, no matter how hard he tried to lead me to what he felt was right for me, subconsciously I must’ve known that whatever it was just wasn’t for me. Many others have pointed me in directions that I felt weren’t what I truly wanted to become, even now many tell me I should do this and that. I don’t even know what I want to do, but I do know what I don’t want to do. That is enough for me to make a decision. I know that I have a lot of time to find what I want to do, and I have experienced a lot of things that have taught me, I am grateful for having the chance to do what I have. But, now having the consciousness of knowing what I don’t want to do has given me some form of guidance, not from someone else, but from myself.

Being able to drown out the noise is difficult at first, everyone making you unsure of yourself. I second guessed myself, and I am not going to blame anyone for it since it is ultimately me who makes the decision. I will say that if people are giving you second thoughts, do not listen to them. They may say that they made the same mistake you did (which doesn’t make sense because you haven’t made their mistake), but really, they don’t know you. If you find it hard, reach out to friends and family who will say yes go you, carve your own journey and path. I really do feel that anyone can follow their dreams, the current world we live in allows for it. You can do anything now with the internet, having so much information out there. If you really want to learn something or do something there is not a whole lot stopping you. I look up to people that have carved their own path, and many others have before them and others will after you.

On that, there is always someone who has done something similar to what you want to achieve. Others have walked in front of you, and if you can find them, learn from them, take as much as you can from their experiences and add their tools to your belt. Don’t feel like you can or have to go it alone, it is not only more difficult and draining, but it’s stupid. Why would you put all the pressure of learning how to do something on you, when you could learn tricks or skills that would further your progress that much smoother and quicker. I will say though that some things cannot be taught, mistakes and experiences that you have to go through and stumble on your own. The others, however, learn them. Like in BJJ, you have to sometimes have a higher belt see what you are doing incorrect and inform you of a better or more precise way to perform the technique.

Stumbling is a part of learning, BJJ, and life. To become what you envision for yourself, you have to keep correcting course and learning from your own mistakes. So, people may tell you that they have to lead you to water, but they ultimately cannot make you drink. And they are correct, your life should only be governed by you and your values, you have to tune outside noise out, and continue on the path that you want to take. Do not let people make decisions for you, because you are not them, and they are not you. Let them sort themselves out first before instructing you what to do. Use it as a chip on your shoulder to make sure that you prove them wrong, you will not make the same mistakes they made, you will succeed under your own metrics, not theirs. Who knows, by following your metrics you might find the thing you are looking for. Take the chance, make your path.

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See you on the mats.

Change, Fear setting and how to apply it

Change, Why do we fear it? I am currently going through some changes in my life, new values and new ways of thinking, I have recently been thinking about following a dream and doing things that I feel like I need to do. However, I am over thinking what might happen, what terrible things could come of my decision. I remembered from a book a read last year, The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss, about fear setting, so I searched it up. I reread the chapter where he talks about how he came across it and how he utilizes it quarterly. So, I thought I would give it a shot, why not see if I can come to some conclusion about how I should think about the current situation I am in. I set out my fears, all of them, the most horrible and the ones that will impact me the least. From friends and family disowning me, to me getting injured or killed. Then I put in place steps on how I would repair any “damage” that might occur, for instance, I would have to wait a year till I could go back to what I was doing, essentially what would I have to do to revert the changes.

Next outlining the possible outcomes and benefits on each path that I could take at this current decision point. How much happiness could I possibly get from staying? Doing fulfilling work, like writing more for this blog, what would I get or achieve for staying or leaving? Next outlining what would happen if I got fired from my current job. Laying out possible other sources of income, how many weeks could I survive without income? Would I be able to find another job? Would I be able to use savings for a little trip? Setting out possible outcomes and benefits helps you understand that your decisions, either path you choose has upsides, making both win possibilities. Helps in choosing the better win scenario for you. A big fear for everyone is getting fired, so laying out what if options for yourself puts into perspective that getting fired isn’t that big of a deal in the long run. Looking at the negative and turning it into a positive. You get fired, cool I now have more reason to chase my dreams and succeed with this chip on my shoulder. (chip on shoulder not necessary)

What am I putting off because of fear? This is one of the most important questions to answer when fear setting, as you have to really dig down into your reasoning and the excuses you are setting up for yourself. I can’t leave her/him because I don’t know how I will survive without them, I can’t ask for a raise because what if they say no, I can’t do this because of that. You get the picture. Once you lay out the illogical reasons behind your excuses, you can comprehend just how stupid your excuses are. That you can do those things that you want to. Ultimately only you are stopping you. Once you have seen the stupidity in your fear ask yourself what is it costing me? My lack of action against my fear, how is it affecting me and my life at the moment? I am I as happy or fulfilled as I could be? This helps in highlighting the fear of inactivity, What do you stand to lose if you don’t make a decision? What will you regret not doing? As they say, you regret the thing you didn’t do.

Once putting your situation into context and labeling and setting out all your fears, the final question to ask yourself is: What am I waiting for? Once having deconstructed the fears that would usually seem overbearing and too big to overcome, they now seem easily avoidable or non-threatening. The fears become only excuses that you set for yourself, having the ability to look at the big picture and step back from your situation, allows you to clearly think about what to do next and how you plan on achieving whatever outcome you choose to follow.

Fear setting is a tool that I will continue to use going forward, helping me make clear decisions and giving me the capability to deconstruct my situation and reduce my fear to excuses. I will include the layout and questions below for you to copy and paste if you wish to try it for yourself. I do hope you try it just once to see its effects. However, this tool will only work if YOU put in the work and make it actionable, no one will do the work for you. Remember this can be used for any situation, hopefully, it will help you out to come to a more informed decision.

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See you on the mats.

 

FEAR SETTING:

Write out the situation that you are currently in:

Where are you currently? What are you doing? And What are you planning/wanting to do?

  • Define your nightmare:
  • Repair the damage:
  • Outcomes and benefits:
  • What if I get fired?
  • What am I putting off out of fear?
  • What is it costing me?
  • What am I waiting for?

 

My Battle

You often hear of massive negative events being the inspiration for change in one’s life. Which sounds backward, why would, and how can someone create a positive out of a negative? I have been wondering lately, why do people do that? Why is it that some terrible, or horrific situation makes or breaks someone? But just as a bushfire is a catalyst for seed pods to burst and the soil to become more fertile so that new trees may grow, maybe that is what one of these experiences is meant to do. Maybe it is supposed to wake our true selves up out of our slumber and take on the world with a new mindset and some new values and metrics to live our lives by.

I don’t like talking about my brief touch with cancer as I see it as me being a victim and me, to put it bluntly, being a little bitch. But I can truly state that I was one of those experiences that changed my life for the better, fuck it was hard and I am thankful it was. Making me more aware of myself, and how precious life is, and understanding that I had the real possibility of dying and that death is something that will eventually happen to all of us. Understanding that I, as much as everyone in this world, has the ability to overcome any obstacle in our way. Also came to the realization that I have to pursue the things I want in my life, the people I interact with, the jobs and hobbies I have a passion for, read and listen to the people that inspire me, never stop wanting to learn and most of all to help out those who are going through rough times, and to bring everyone I possibly can up in life from dark places. I do want all of you reading this to succeed in life, however, you want to measure success by. You have to command yourself to get it, it will not come to you if you sit idle.

In February of 2016, I woke my Mum up in the middle of the night to let her know that the pain from my stomach was not going away. She had me call up nurse on call, the lovely lady on the other side of the line told me to get to emergency quick. So, we rushed off to the hospital, where I got diagnosed and the next day I was operated on. Appendectomies seem to run in the family, my father and his father had them done around the same age (21). I get out and everything is all well and good, I go on with my life, work, study, hang out with mates, plan for the next ski trip. A couple of months later I get a call while I’m at work. To give you some perspective, I’m in the middle of this soon to be estate on the northern outskirts of Melbourne. The next paddock over is this beautiful green field and small hills were in view, the skies were an ominous dark grey. In that moment I had never felt so small. When the words “We found a tumor in your appendix Carlos – Blank,” hit my ears, it felt like a scene from a movie, the hills kept getting further away and I felt how insignificant I was in the big schemes of the universe. I asked if he could repeat what he said like there was static, but I knew what he said. My workmate asked if I had seen a ghost, I told him that it was my surgeon, he joked if he was calling because I had cancer, he knew how to lighten the mood. I told him that he was bang on the money. I thank him for being a stand-up guy and taking the edge off a bit. I called my mum to break the news I am sure she never wanted to hear. The possibility that her son had cancer.

I count my blessings that I come from I unbelievably strong family, where there is so much love, power and ability to not falter. One where we really pull around those coming down on hard times, I thank my friends that were there when I needed them most, and to my bosses for not treating me any different thank you. So, began the long weeks of not knowing what the fuck was going to happen to me, all I knew was that I was going to win. For the first couple of weeks, I was fucked around by the public health system, from one surgeon to the next, all not giving me a clear answer or direction on what to do next. Thankfully my current surgeon took the situation on and set me straight. The long weeks of going in and out of waiting rooms for blood tests and scans and other procedures were hard, but being around my friends and family, working, studying and training, all helped me keep my mind off the grim situation at hand.

The results came in, no further tumors, however, since the tumor in my appendix was larger than the threshold, the collective of doctors decided to perform a precautionary surgery. I would lose the right third of my large intestines. What would be the life-changing event was booked in. I was upbeat leading up to the date, with the snow season around the corner, and if all goes well I might be able to hit the slopes at the tail end of the season. My surgeon rings me up the week before surgery and says she has come down with horrible flu-like symptoms and will have to push the surgery back a few weeks. The news bums me out for a bit since I won’t be making it to the mountains this season. But hey, I’m still alive and well. So, three weeks later I’m getting ready for surgery, got enough clothes for what will hopefully be a short three to four-night stay. All the procedures before surgery go well, and now I’m surrounded by doctors and nurses and I slowly fall asleep.

I wake up to pure white and an indescribable pain, I take a breath but get nothing, I cough to try to clear my throat. More pain, some red splatters the white background. Is that my blood I’m coughing up? I can’t stop coughing, more red. I hear someone yell “hold on to this as tight as you can.” I grip on to what I assume was a pillow, I hold on for dear life, coughing and blood and pain. All I could think was not today motherfucker, not today. I must’ve passed out because the next thing I know I wake up in the intensive care unit. My lovely mother and father greet me, as I started to come to. I am hooked up to a lot of machines and there are tubes in and out of me. A nurse lets me know that I am hooked up to morphine and I can press a button when the light goes green if I am in a lot of pain. I don’t think I stopped pressing that button for the first couple of days. I had trouble breathing, every movement hurt and all I wanted was to go home. I get a visit from my surgeon, she tells me that the surgery went well, however, there were complications at the end when they were removing the tube from my throat, she told me that I had inhaled a lot of blood and that I would be monitored before being allowed to leave. Two days later I was moved to a normal recovery room, where I could have visitors.

I am thankful that some of my friends came to see me and keep me from going insane. If you are reading this you do not know how much it meant to me. All the ones that didn’t go but sent best wishes do not feel bad, it is life, things come up and I know that everyone has their own problems that need sorting out. I do not view you any less and love you all the same.

I could not eat until my digestive system had rebooted, and I could not leave until I had shown that I had stabilized and the pain had subsided a bit. I can’t remember much of the first couple of days due to the morphine removing not only the pain but my ability to process what was going on. After a few days of rehab and exercises to open up the lungs and get me walking, the tubes and machines slowly disappeared to other patients more in need of them. I made it my mission to get out of there as soon as I possibly could. If they wanted me to be able to walk one loop around the small rectangular complex I would try to walk twice around. If they wanted me to do a few exercises I was going to do them to the best of my ability, whatever it was I was going to smash this. Once I stopped using the morphine as much I became more of myself, I tried to make the situation as light as possible, Yeah, I almost asphyxiated myself, but I was going to press on. After seven days I finally got out. My parents said that they were not too far away from picking me up, so I signed myself out after getting all my stuff together and headed down to the lobby. I was so ready to leave that I was waiting for them, but it didn’t matter, I was out.

The first meal outside of the hospital will forever stick in my mind. It was probably the biggest burger I have ever eaten along with a creamy milkshake, I paid for it later but it tasted so good. It’s the little things in life that create happiness, I try my best to not take them for granted. Shout out to one of my best mates who swung by and picked me up. Love you man. After two weeks of sitting at home not really doing anything productive, I told work that I wanted to start. I said that I will need to be on light duties, and they made it so I was needed. It was the best thing for me to do, it kept my mind off the pain, and allowed me to feel valued. Get on with life, because it won’t slow down for you. A month later I was cleared to start working out again, building back the strength was challenging but the experience made me really appreciate gym more, not being able to work out sucked balls, and whenever I catch myself whining about it I remember that specific feeling of pushing out that first rep since surgery and how good it felt.

Through the process I did not tell many people, I felt like I would burden them with my problems, or I would seem like I wanted some pity love. From the few people I told, word spread and many would come up to me and ask how I was going, many would send me well wishes and often would ask me why I didn’t tell them. I suppose in a world where everyone posts what is going on in their lives, I felt like I didn’t want to place my problems out there. I felt as though I could press on through the suffering by myself since it was only me who was experiencing it. I also hate being in the spotlight. I had many great chats with people who had been through similar circumstances, it was an uplifting feeling, that so many people cared and shared stories with me. It made me realize that I was a little bitch for thinking that only I was suffering. I often feel that most people put into these situations feel the same and tend to bottle up emotions. I know I did. It was a few months later when all the pain really came out, to the only person who I could really show how hard it was. I had to be strong for everyone except dad, he has been one of my greatest role models and best mates. On that day I let my walls down for a brief minute. It felt good, I guess I never spent the time to really address my pain. From then on, I would try my utmost to check in with myself and I started to become more aware of myself.

Like everyone I had good days and bad days, I would catch myself thinking why me, why did this happen to me. After putting it into perspective, I am still alive, my life is not that bad, I have a place to sleep, food to eat and things to do. Others are not so fortunate. All you can do in these situations is to push through. No one is going to make you feel better, you have to push yourself and break through the uncomfortable pain and suffering to get to the other side. The mindset I had through the whole process was to make sure that I never let it get the best of me, some days were harder than others, but I would do my best to rise above the situation and learn from it. It has taken me almost two years to put all this into words. And really start living my life by my own values, do the things that interest me, understanding and overcoming my fears, and changing my life. Asking out the girl of my dreams, starting BJJ, reading more, listening to the things I like, spending time with close friends and family, starting this blog, putting myself in uncomfortable positions that will eventually help me grow as a person. I know this is a long read and if you have made it this far thank you. I hope you all reading this can take something from my experiences and apply it to your life, remember it starts with the mindset. Create good out of the bad, use it as fuel, live your life your way and push through the uncomfortable. Life is a journey, make it your own.

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Thank you again, and see you on the mats.

 

Edit – Follow-up post of what I learned in posting up this story of my battle.

I got my first stripe! So did she!

This past week I received my first stripe, my partner joined the one stripe club not long after, the first of many. It has been nice going in as much as we possibly can, and the hard work has paid off, both of us only starting just over a month ago. The journey so far has been unending fun, with taking every class as it comes and trying to make the most out of the time there, learning asking questions, getting tips from our rolling partners. It has been great seeing her grow and prosper, she listens intensely and is always asking questions, more than me, funny enough! The process of learning BJJ has been fun and you can always pick something up when you are repeating a class. I have made a few friends and using my own tips have connected with them well and have maximized my learning, asking questions and focusing on the little things. My training partners have been amazing at helping me learn and have been able to answer most of my questions when I have needed a better understanding of the move. Obviously, when they can’t, Robbie has been there to help.

Since I had a few double up classes, I was able to train and help teach my SO(significant other), it was a new experience which was fun and challenging. I want her to be the best that she can, however at times had to pull myself up on going too fast and slowing it down for her. I still need to work on being clear and concise in teaching, as I would often rush the explanation on the topic and my SO would not fully understand the move or section of the technique. Luckily, she learns in a similar way to me, which is by doing it and then drilling it, so I don’t have to change my teaching style too much. I know I have a long way to go but I thought I would give an update and put my thoughts out. Thanks for reading.

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See you on the mats.

Positivity is bullshit, stop looking for it.

Positivity is bullshit, you can’t go looking for it, you aren’t gonna find it in some video of a guy, who you know is a douche, spouting out shit from his mouth of how you can make it, you can do anything. You aren’t going to find it in a personal trainer to help you lose weight, or a teacher at school telling you that you aren’t living up to your potential. The problem is, you won’t. Unless you have the conviction to get up out of bed at 5 in the morning every morning, no matter how tired you are or no matter how bad you feel, you never will get out of the warm bed. So, stop searching for positivity.

So, you ask, how do I make changes in my life to become more positive or better? A simple way to put it. Just start doing it. But its more than that. You have to do it in a way where it becomes a habit, where it makes you feel like shit that you aren’t getting out of bed, but instead wasting away beneath a blanket of bad discipline. You have to make that value change, where you value the benefit of doing the thing that you want to do, over the fear of not doing that thing. It can be getting up earlier or losing weight, running or stretching more, starting that new hobby or writing that book, starting that business. Whatever it is, you have to take full responsibility for it. Because no one will make you do it. So, stop watching that motivation video and start doing. It has been some of the best advice I have received and I will relay to others. Just start. Actions speak louder than words, don’t be that guy or girl saying that they will do this or that, be the person who is already in motion to reach their dream. I know that there is a lot of bullshit motivators out there, I was sucked into that vicious cycle of going through YouTube vid after YouTube vid, not actually doing anything. I would watch three 10-minute-long videos before going to the gym, as I look back now I think “fuck man, that was a waste of time.” I was that guy who would say “oh yeah I was thinking about doing that thing,” or “Yeah I want to do this.” What snapped me out of it was multiple factors that only I could experience for myself, I had to go searching for it, I myself had to find it all on my own. Once I took on the responsibility and stopped blaming people, situations, and life events, that is when I was able to set myself free. Free to realize that I had faults. Free to understand I have room to grow. And free to know and learn that I can change.

I know a lot of people in my life who are afraid of change, and in some circumstances so am I, however, I recognize it and am now able to work on my shortcomings. As they say, the first step is admitting there is a problem. For the people on the outside the problem is easily identified, but for the person who has the problem, it is extremely difficult for them to detach from the situation they find themselves in. When the person on the outside tells them that there is a problem they, dig their heels in and defend their position heavily. This is hard for people on the outside to be conscious about since they want the best for the person. However, for the person, they usually see this as a personal attack on them and their values. It is easier for a person to admit there is a problem when they tell the truth, as when you tell the truth to others one usually tells themselves the truth. I have often seen it in people who are addicted to something, drugs, work, a bad relationship, you name it. They lie to their friends and family and end up lying to themselves to get more of the substance they are addicted to. Once they finally admit that they have a problem, that is when they search for help and a way out of that addiction. Sometimes, unfortunately, the addiction takes over their lives and when they finally realize that, it is often too late. Losing friends and family, bad health, and a range of other consequences. Sometimes they are able to pick themselves up and repair all that has been broken but most cases can never see a way out of the darkness, and resort back to the addiction.

By listening to and reading about the right people to construct some values from, not for motivation, but to learn from their mistakes and from their experiences. I have been able to overcome many obstacles.Whether it be illness, not wanting to commit to anything, getting up and into the gym, losing weight, being a better person and always striving to become the person I see myself becoming. I hopefully can make an impact on someone and help them out, However, this is as much for you guys reading as it is for me. Taking responsibility for my actions and values and how I measure my life has allowed me to change for the better. I would like to think that by becoming an example for people, that they will also change for the better, because if your winning then I am too. I have changed one person’s life, now I hope I will affect more. So start doing, the positivity will come. The more you don’t care about being positive the more positivity you will receive.

So, get up, turn off this device and get after it, keep hammering, just do it, whatever phrase you want to use and change your life and those around you.

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See you on the mats.