The clock is ticking to my 5th Dan grading: Another sore Sunday

I’ve just finished another three hour Ju Jitsu session and after writing this blog I’ll probably be lying on the couch for the rest of the afternoon and evening as I have done for the last few weeks. From next week however Sensei Salur, Sensei Spencer (who will be taking third dan on the same day as we take our fifth) and I will have to increase our training on Sunday’s to four hours so I’m likely to feel even worse this time next week.

As mentioned the last time I wrote, it’s very difficult to find the time to train as well as teach. Currently I teach in Covent Garden on Monday and Wednesday nights and although I get some small amount of practice for my grading during those sessions it’s only really scratching the surface. I attend Sensei Salur’s class in Tooting on Tuesday’s and Sunday’s to get my own training in  but twice a week really isn’t enough even with the extra hour or two we’re booking on a Sunday. Of course in addition I have to work a normal working week as I don’t know many martial artists who can make a decent living out of teaching. Most like myself do it because of their love for the art and barely cover costs. I have to ask for a lot of understanding in my personal life of course!

To supplement the lack of training I’m running circa 50K a week with added circuit training in the local park where they have pull  up bars and dip bars etc. No matter how much extra training you do outside the dojo however it doesn’t prepare you for Ju Jitsu and especially not a Ju Jitsu grading. There is nothing that saps the energy more in my opinion than being repeatedly slammed into the floor only to get up and do it again and again. During line ups and similar demonstrations it takes an effort to remember to breath as uke’s come flying at you one after another. During the groundwork bouts of course the opponent is trying to grapple with you with all of their strength and technique. It will be much harder on the day as the three examinees will already have been demonstrating for some time and therefore we’ll be tired by the time we begin the groundwork. As senior instructors our students will feel we are there to be shot down though so if they are asked to fight us no quarter will be asked for or given.

The training is hard but it’s also very rewarding. It’s great to be able to focus on training for something specific after the five years I’ve had to wait since fourth dan. In a lot of ways I really miss the kyu grade days when there was another grading every four to six months especially in the early grades. It keeps you focussed and it’s easier to keep fit and mentally tough when you’re focussed and therefore training hard. It also helps that you’re nearly thirty years younger of course! During this period of training I’ve felt that inner steel returning which is something that only very hard training can bring about. This inner steel is a physical and mental toughness that comes from pushing yourself when your mind and body are often telling yourself to stop. Although teaching is great and has definitely improved my technique and knowledge of Ju Jitsu, it is no substitute for hard training with a definitive goal. So even when it is hard and I have injuries and feel sore I remind myself how much I’ll miss this if I pass.

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