Our first entry is written by Dan Pardy who is a Blue Belt at the Gracie Sydney HQ in Alexandria.

There are definitely things in life that I could be called an expert on; BJJ is not one of them. With that in mind, I would like to be an expert one day, in fact I’m actively working towards it, and I am impatient.

So I spend a lot of time (the time lying in bed, when I’m supposed to be working, driving, standing in the shower etc.) putting my mind to the puzzle of learning, and learning as quickly as possible. It’s not that I’m not enjoying the journey, on the contrary, it’s more an understanding that the more you know, the more you are in a position to learn MORE!

I thought about one of the first things I ever learnt – the alphabet. When I learnt the alphabet it was to a tune. There weren’t any words, just the letters; ABCDEFG………HIJKLMNOP……..QRS…….TUV…..W..X..Y..Z Now, when I say the alphabet, more than 30 years after I learnt it, I still take a breath at all of the same places. The tune is gone, but the structure is hard wired into my brain.

Black belts don’t have more options than us, (actually they do if you are still a Blue Belt like me) but if you train with your teacher for 10 years, most likely he has taught you every move that he knows, every technique. It’s the information age, there aren’t any secret moves anymore, what they have is years and years, thousands of hours of getting all that information to the point of it being hard wired into their brain. There is no panic as your training partner rolls out of that sweet Omoplata you just set up, (crap crap crap he’s getting out), the Black Belt just rolls to the arm bar. Just like M follows L follows K. He has the same options as you; he just doesn’t have to remember them anymore.

Ever been working on a technique you have just been shown, got stuck and asked your teacher to clarify something; only to have them, hop on the floor and do the position themselves so they could watch what it was that they were doing ? They aren’t confused; the technique is a physical memory for them. It’s not a verbal or visual one, they aren’t copying what they saw on YouTube, or what the gym know it all told them, their BODY remembers, it’s instinctual.

They made us say the alphabet every day, first thing in the morning, over and over, for years. Now I don’t have to think about it, I’m an expert.