It’s 2020, and my New Years resolution is to do things that scare me and get out of my comfort zone.

I decided to tackle that challenge in 3 ways:

  1. Build 12 Side Projects
  2. ‘Think’ in public (this blog & twitter)
  3. Commit to 12 months of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

Step 1: Get contact lenses

I’m a web dev by trade and in keeping with the cliche I wear glasses daily. I’m short sited and it’s kind of par for course in my industry.

Obviously I don’t want my glasses getting scraped across my face during the first class. So I needed to get fitted for contact lenses.

One appointment and 30 minutes later… boom, I’ve cleared my first hurdle.

Step 2: Find a BJJ school

Luckily this part was easier still, turns out there is a reputable training gym less than 500m from my house… who knew?

I organised my first free trial lesson via their website. It was super easy and a minute later my laptop lit up with a welcome email confirming the class had been booked.

Step 3: Take a deep breath, walk through the doors and hope for the best

Feeling VERY out of my comfort zone I walked through the doors and was greeted by a friendly face and promptly given a quick tour of the gym before the class kicked off.

I was warned that the warm up can often be the most intimidating part for first timers but after that was over the class would settle in and I’d be fine.

No kidding!

Step 4: The Mat

I’m not sure what I was expecting but I had a few less than graceful moments during my first warm up. Actions and movements that my adult body had never performed.

Slightly embarrassed but having fun I did my best to keep up with everyone else and found myself sweating bullets and enjoying myself.

After what seemed like forever the ‘warm up’ ended, I was toast. If that was the warm up I couldn’t imagine what was to come next.

The instructor took to the mat and started talking us through the first actual Jiu Jitsu for the night before we paired up and began practicing with our partners.

Any intimidation I had felt walking into the gym was long gone as I came to grips with learning my first take down.

I felt clunky, slow, challenged, at times confused but I was having a blast.

As the class progressed I felt more comfortable and my focus turned to the task at hand which was a great feeling.

At some point I looked up at the other pairs rolling on the mat (I was still sweating bullets and beginning to feel bad for my rolling partner). The others had worked up a slight sheen on their foreheads but I was sweating like crazy.

It occurred to me that I must be doing something wrong, I’m not huge but I’m not the smallest bloke getting around either. It dawned on me that I was relying far too heavily on what strength I did have and not enough on technique and balance.

Something everyone else seemed to have mastered. On reflection I was trying not to look like the first time rookie that I am.

After a few more take downs, taking turns as both the aggressor and the ‘defensive guy?’ - I’m still learning the language. The class came to a close.

We thanked the coach and each other for a great night and everyone started making their seperate ways to the exit.

Mission Complete!

I did it! I survived my first class. What a feeling. I was tired , mentally and physically but the feeling of accomplishment made up for it.

I can see why Jiu Jitsu seems to be exploding at the moment. It’s a great way to get fit, learn and meet new people.

The feeling you get as you learn a new move is amazing. It’s almost like collecting cards or shoes or what ever you’re into. Every time you hit the mat you’re adding something new to your collection.

I’m heading back tonight for my second class, this time with a little less angst and (a tiny) bit more confidence.