After re-reading Part 1 (after it was posted on the website) I realized that I am in need of getting someone to edit what I write. Good thing I am not a professional writer or those typos would be mighty embarrassing. Okay now to write more specifically about my transition so far.
To summarize from the previous writing, basically my health wasn’t that good, I was suffering from injury after injury and I was no longer having fun. I found myself in that place to where I desperately needed to do something different but did not want to just spend endless hours on the treadmill or bicycle.
. . . I was no longer having fun.
On a side note, I used to joke with a lot of my friends about common powerlifter struggles like: holding your breath to tie your shoes, not being able to find the correct size in clothing, closing down buffets and basically eating whatever I wanted. Sure I was big and strong (20+ inch arms and 30+ inch quads) but a flight of stairs could easily whoop my ass.
So I took my big ass to Neutral Ground. I was obviously the biggest and strongest person there. At that point in time all that I had going for me was size and strength. Sure I wrestled in high school 15 years ago but I certainly was not in wrestling condition when I first started rolling . . . and nope I could not even make it through the warm-ups. I was in such horrible conditioning. That first day I even rolled. That first rolling experience as well as the following weeks, I would get such sick muscles pumps. I knew absolutely no technique so I just relied on my size and strength. As we all know now, that did not work out too well for me. I was getting so gassed when I was rolling. Sometimes during class I would feel like I had to puke, other times I could hardly catch my breath. A lot of the time I felt embarrassed and humiliated. I regularly would walk back to my car after class feeling defeated. I wanted so bad to be good, to win, or hell to at least not get my ass kicked my people who were smaller than me.
“. . . I felt embarrassed and humiliated.”
Yeah I realized what every new person to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu realizes . . . this sport is physically and mentally demanding and tough as hell. It isn’t for the faint of heart or weak of spirit. For my first few weeks there I was just a choking dummy but I just kept showing up. I bought a “gi” and kept showing up. My training changed as well too. Instead of lifting weights like I was doing previously, my weight training sessions became less and less intense. (I needed more recovery time). This was another mentally challenging thing for me. As a powerlifter, I prided myself on size and strength. I was at the point to where 3XL shirts were getting tight on me and I had to start buying 4XL. Now in BJJ, I was “shrinking.” Yeah I know that my health was improving and that is honestly great but I struggled so much internally about not being the big guy anymore. At this point I considered saying that this wasn’t for me but I couldn’t allow myself to quit. If I were to quit because it was too hard, what type of example would I be setting for my children?
“If I were to quit because it was too hard, what type of example would I be setting for my children?”
I am sure that every white belt just starting out faces that crossroads. The crossroads to where either you are going to do this or you are not. I think that jiu jitsu is great though I do not think that it is for everyone. It really takes a special, motivated and driven person to show up day after day getting your butt kicked to come back the next day to get your butt kicked again. So why didn’t I just throw in the towel? I mean I could have easily gone back to powerlifting so why continue to get my ass kicked?
Around the time that I was feeling defeated, I allowed myself to be defeated and realized that this is where I need to be and then I started to get better. Warm-ups were going a lot easier and I was making it through them. I was starting to grasp the techniques that were being taught in class and applying them to when I was rolling with others on the mat. I basically had to let my old self die and when I finally let go, I fell in love with Jiu Jitsu. I went from rolling a couple times a week to now rolling almost every day. I guess you can say that I caught the Jiu Jitsu bug as I am now addicted.
“. . . I fell in love with Jiu Jitsu.”
After 3 months of training I competed in my first competition. It was just a local competition but it was a great experience. I walked away from that competition with a greater knowledge and realization to where I stacked up against other opponents and I was proud of my results. (I took home a medal in my weight class and division). I got to see where I need to improve, what I need to refine, what I need to learn and how much harder that I need to work. That is the key thing that I have gained from my experience so far is that I am responsible for my training.
“. . . I am responsible for my training.”
No I am not responsible for the results of my competition. Don’t be silly. I am responsible for the results of my training. When it burns do I push myself to get that extra rep? When I am exhausted do I dig deep and roll for 4 more minutes? When I do not feel like getting out of bed for an early morning session do I get up?
These are simple questions that I have the answers to. I give the answers with how I live my life. The same drive and motivation that I used in powerlifting is the same drive and motivation that I have used in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. The one thing that has also helped is that Neutral Ground is one of the best places to train in the country. Not only are you getting world class coaching and experience but like I have mentioned previously it is a brotherhood, a fellowship of like-minded individuals who also want to learn and get better.
“. . . A fellowship of like-minded individuals who also want to learn and get better.”
So now to answer the initial question posed, “Is a Fat Powerlifter Too Old and Out of Shape for MMA?” The initial answer is yes. Do not expect to just walk onto the mat and think that you are ready for a cage fight. Some people jump right in a cage with no training or experience and yeah that is not a good thing to do. Training at Neutral Ground has shown me so far that it takes a lot and I mean a lot to be in the type of condition that the octagon demands. Now do not get discouraged because you can be trained and get into fighting condition, it just takes time and effort.
“. . . Do not get discouraged because you can be trained and get into fighting condition . . .”
It really does not matter your level of athleticism or background, what matters is your heart. I have found that just by showing up and not giving up, I am getting better and better every day. Training at Neutral Ground has truly changed my life for the better. I really get the sense that this is someplace that I belong and that BJJ is what I am supposed to be doing. For me everything just clicks now. Has it been easy? No, and it is still not easy. Some days I still leave the gym scratching my head wondering how I got beat or why I am so horrible or even feel discouraged like I will never get better. I just feel that, brush away those feelings and show up the next day.
Am I a bad ass yet? Nope, but I am a lot closer to bad ass than I am fat ass.