Following Derrick Hodgson’s fantastic introduction into this series, which follows the personal training stories of Bucklands Beach BJJ students, we have two more stories to share with you today. Enjoy!
#1 Malcolm Taylor’s entry into BJJ, from beginner to blue belt
I met Andy at his daughter’s BJJ birthday party two years ago. As I watched the kids play games, I was having a great time stuffing my face with cake. Andy was talking to me (he’s a friendly guy) then somehow, I agreed to try a BJJ class. To this day I still have no idea how I got talked into it?!
I went along to that first class with my head full of confidence, sure that I could handle myself having had experience in other fighting sports. Well, I left that night sore and bewildered. I had been choked and submitted so many times I couldn’t even count, but I was completely addicted to BJJ.
I started the sport very overweight and out of shape, so I have had some hard times fighting the urge to give it all away and go back to that easy life of eating and drinking too much of the wrong stuff, doing nothing and dying slowly in the lazy boy. Over the last two years I have transformed so much of my life. I have lost a lot of weight and gained strength, flexibility and got back that confidence I used to have. This change in me has made life so much better for myself and my family. I now have energy to be able to play with my kids how they want me to play, and because I’m not tired and unfit I am a much happier person. In short BJJ has saved me from myself.
My new-found addiction has taken me on a wild adventure so far. The classes are so much fun. Sometimes it’s really hard work but most of the time it’s just fun. I have set goals for myself and made some of them. I have also stumbled on the way, but time and time again I have had Andy there to encourage me and help keep my eye on the prize.
I was recently awarded my blue belt only days before my first ever competition. This was a huge surprise and I was unsure if I was even at a blue belt level in the sport. Getting that belt meant I now had to go up a division in the comp and I was worried that it was going to be too much, but Andy was there to encourage and support me once again. I came away from that competition with a bronze medal and the confidence that Andy was teaching me a high level of BJJ.
One of the absolute best things about training at Bucklands Beach BJJ is the people. The sport teaches people to be humble and respectful very quickly but the atmosphere that Andy and his family have created at the club is without doubt warm and welcoming. There are so many different people from so many different backgrounds all mashed into one, all training and helping each other without any issues or big egos. It truly is one big family.
I am sure that my big adventure into BJJ will continue with Andy and his family for many years to come.
#2 James Boyd’s phenomenal growth at the club – the lessons learned from competing
I started BJJ about a year and a half ago and have been addicted since the start. Walking into my first class and meeting Andy was very nerve wracking and I thought I would get smashed from the start.
The first thing I noticed was how much of a family vibe everyone gave off. There were no egos, no hot heads, and no arrogance. The first person I rolled with was Ryan Medcalf, Andy’s son and blue belt at the time (now one of the best purple belts in the country).
Being the new guy, I thought I was doomed against Ryan. I was very surprised that he ran me through several sets of basic moves, sweep, passes, and submissions to help me get a sense of what this was all about. A very pleasant and professional introduction to the club I now call home.
I entered my first comp about 7 months into my BJJ journey. I won my weight class with two submissions and a draw. This was very eye opening as I thought I would be at the bottom of the heap. My second tournament didn’t go so well however. It was at the no-gi regionals, and I had moved up a weight class due to the winter weight getting to me. It was a disaster. All my fault of course. I ended up at the bottom of my bracket with only losses to my name. It was the best thing that could’ve ever happen to me. Winning is great after all but you only learn when you lose.
About a year into my time at Buckland Beach BJJ I left. I had shifted my schedule at work and had less time to make it to class most days. I went to another club in the area which won’t be named out of respect. This was the worst decision of my life. Being a three-stripe white belt and going against blue and purple belts from this new club was surprisingly easy. There was an insane difference in the skill levels between training partners at the two clubs.
I gave it about a month before my patience ran out. I couldn’t take smashing blue belts anymore and moved back to Andy’s club. Right away, I realised that there was no other club like Buckland Beach BJJ. The lack of bullcrap, the emphasis on real moves that work, and the family environment all made me realise this is the best club in Auckland.
There were many difficult times during training. Coming in and experiencing a tough training session can always leave you wondering where your holes are and how you got tapped by that one guy over and over. However, this is where you grow. You need the bad times so that you can fill in the gaps in your game and continue to push forward.
No need to elaborate on the good times because that starts when you first step on the jiu jitsu mat, and stops only when you decide to stop. And if you never quit, well then, the good times just keep on rolling!
We really enjoyed what Malcolm and James had to say, we hope you did too. We have more stories to share with you soon! Until then, catch you on the mat.