I can still remember the first time I walked up the stairs to watch my first class 10 years ago. It was the last class of the year and I had to wait a few weeks before I could try my first class. I still get the same nervous excitement walking up to the academy that I did on my first class. That first class got me addicted, I knew right away that this is what I want to do.
I initially came to Jiu-Jitsu as a sport, something I could compete at, but over time I become more and more interested in the self defence aspect of jiu-jitsu. There is something so empowering knowing that you can handle most physical encounters you might come across.
This is one of the main reasons I love to teach Jiu-Jitsu, to share this empowerment. You can see people change, class by class, into confident, stronger people.
Jiu-Jitsu is many things, a sport, a martial art, a philosophy and a way of life, but most importantly Jiu-Jitsu is fun.
I remember the first time I started Brazilian Jiu Jitsu , it was a different time, a different era for Jiu-Jitsu, as it was still in its infancy in Australia. Coming from a striking background, the new style of “ground fighting” was only introduced to me through the VHS tapes of early UFC tournaments. On a friend’s recommendation I went down to the the Maroubra Surf Life Saving Club, where I was met with a warm smile from a short stocky Brazilian named Bruno Panno, who left a long lasting impression on me. The first time I rolled on the mats I was immediately hooked, I knew BJJ was for me. The feeling I got before, during and after a roll was unexplainable but I felt alive. BJJ came into my life when I most needed it, as I was not in a good place, both mentally and emotionally at the time. One lesson BJJ has taught me and continues to, is to tough it out and not give up. It taught me character, discipline and gave me confidence and the power to believe and achieve. It is with these lessons and values that I now own my own Gracie Gym, which continues to uphold the principles I was taught and teach.
My Gracie BJJ family started as acquaintances and turned into friends. Friends into brothers and sisters and eventually became family, all from me entering Gracie Gym on that faithful day and the warm smile from my Coach, friend and brother Bruno Panno.
I just happened to stumble across BJJ, really. I used to live close by to a school in Bronte, running past it regularly, but it wasn’t until I kept seeing articles pop up that I decided to see what all the fuss was about. When I walked in the first time I was a little taken back by the look of the place and the large smiling man that greeted me (George Atton) but thought to myself, “Well, I’m here now. I may as well try it this one time”.
Three years later, I haven’t really left the mats for more than a few days. I’ve always been one for competitive sports but they were all flawed because they were all winnable. BJJ on the other hand is something, I feel I will never know everything about but I’m going to have a great time trying to.
BJJ has been one of my toughest and most rewarding challenges. Everyday I get on the mats I learn something new about myself and am challenged in ways I could never have imagined.