There are a ‘Brazilian’ things to ‘Thai’ at Revolution BJJ
By: Gina Middleton
I came to Revolution BJJ looking for a fun way to exercise, to make some new friends, and to learn to defend myself. I also had a morbid curiosity after being told that it was possible to choke a person with their own clothing. I found all of those things, as well as a place to call home; and I don’t just mean because I spend an average of five days a week here. The last few months have been especially eventful for me; I had my first submission only tournament, my first fight camp, and my first Muay Thai fight. I learned a lot about myself, I made some great friends, and I definitely got in better shape!
Submission only competition
In December I participated in my first submission only competition. I love jiu jitsu and I love to compete. I was especially excited this time around about not having to worry about keeping track of points or about getting the take down (not my strong suit). Already being in fight camp for Muay Thai meant that I had almost zero jiu jitsu training time for the three weeks leading up to the competition. I don’t get nervous about winning or losing; for me, competing is a way for me to measure how much I have learned. That being said, I was fairly concerned that my lack of preparation would result in me getting out there and diving headfirst into a triangle choke. About halfway through my first match I was already feeling pretty relieved because I had surprised myself by doing a lot of things correctly. I hadn’t been choked out already, and I could hear and see my teammates and coaches shouting their encouragement. I remember thinking, somewhere around the ten-minute mark of my second match, I was actually really thankful that I had been spending so much time focusing on conditioning for Muay Thai. Not only had it improved my conditioning, but I was also more aggressive. I went into those matches with most of the same techniques I had before, but I was fueled by a newfound confidence in my strength and stamina. I was stunned when I realized that I had, in fact, won both of my matches.
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After training Muay Thai for what felt like all of five minutes, some people convinced me that I was ready for a Muay Thai fight. I wouldn’t exactly say that I was inclined to agree with them, but after being a spectator at a tournament in November I had stars in my eyes. I wanted to get into that ring, ready or not. I wanted to know what it would feel like to just completely let my foot off the brake and hit the gas. I wanted to know what my body could be capable of in a fight. I was warned that the fight camp was the hard part, and the fight at the end was the reward for all the grueling work put in during camp. Luckily, I had the guidance and support of my team, as well as seven weeks of complete immersion into Thai boxing. Gradually I figured out how to capitalize on my strengths and work to improve my weaknesses. It was amazing to feel how my body adapted and how quickly I could feel a difference in my conditioning. I felt stronger and faster. I started to put techniques together and started to create my own strategy. By the time that I got in the ring for my fight, I actually felt like I knew what I was doing. The whole camp was an amazing learning experience. I learned how to fight and how to be a better training partner, but I also learned a lot about myself and how far I could push my limits.
I had competed in three jiu jitsu tournaments before I had my first Muay Thai smoker so I did have some experience with the tournament atmosphere. However, apart from the adrenaline rush and the basic logistics, this was nothing like jiu jitsu. I have always found comfort that in a jiu jitsu competition, if something hurts, you can tap and it’s over. There is no tapping in Muay Thai. In the ring, you are in an enclosed space with another person that is literally trying to beat those starry-eyed aspirations right out of you. It was a total game changer for me to know that no matter what, I had to survive those three rounds. That thought pushed me to train harder than I ever had before. I don’t really know how to describe what it feels like to be in a ring and hear the crowd and your teammates and coaches cheer for you as you punch and kick another person, or the satisfaction of feeling the impact of your fist against their head. I was even thrilled at getting punched and kicked right back. There is just no other feeling in the world like the rush of being able to just completely unleash yourself like that. It was incredibly rewarding to be able to see how much I had learned in that seven weeks.
I encourage everyone to take advantage of the opportunities offered at Revolution BJJ. Even if you try a different martial art and decide it’s not for you, you will still learn from the experience. Something new, in the beginning, may be daunting, but in the end it will be worth every minute.