Most people I know have a bucket list of things they want to do before they die. Travel destinations, career goals, family and relationship milestones, and seeing their favorite artists perform. Many BJJ practitioners from white to black belts have BJJ dreams and achievements that should be thrown into the bucket list mix as well. We only live once and the amount of time we have is unknown. As the famous line from The Shawkshank Redemption goes “get busy living, or get busy dying.”
Here are 10 things BJJ players should consider adding to their BJJ bucket list
Earn a Black Belt: The old saying goes “A Black Belt is a White Belt who never quits.” Earning a black belt is the holy grail and grand dream for many who step foot on the mat. Being able to keep the spark and passion going while managing our health, physical durability, career, and family is a very difficult task. Also, getting past the peaks and valleys, frustrations and bouts with self-doubt is also a tall order during a 10 to 15 year journey to Black Belt. As difficult as it is to earn a Black Belt, it is still an achievable goal for the ones willing to put in the time and hard work required to earn one.
Compete at a Storied BJJ Venue: Ever dream of stepping on the mats to compete at Tijuca Tênis Clube gymnasium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil or the Walter Pyramid in Long Beach, California? These two storied venues have hosted the Mundials and some of the greatest matches in BJJ history. Most athletes will never step foot on the field at Yankee Stadium or Lambeau Field. In BJJ, you have the opportunity to compete next to legends and rub shoulders with BJJ pioneers at some of the most storied venues in the sport.
Train in Brazil: Ever dream of training at a famous academy in Brazil in the morning and evening, while sandwiching acai bowls, beaches, and sightseeing in between training sessions? For many grapplers, going to train BJJ in Brazil is on par with religious pilgrimages to the holy land. We have all heard stories from our coaches or peers who ventured down to Brazil to train either for a week or a few months. For many it was an eye-opening and life changing experiences that made us yearn and hope that we would also one day get to make our pilgrimage to Brazil to train and experience life.
Train with Your BJJ Hero: “So BJ Penn asked me to roll with him while I was down in Hilo.” Then I woke up. Brett Favre might throw a football your way if you have a hot mom or sister he wants to send inappropriate pics to after your practice session, but chances are you will never get to spend quality time with your sports hero. However, many famous champions and coaches have their own schools and seminar tours that gives the average Joes the chance to train with their BJJ heroes. As a BJJ player, you can go to San Francisco to get physically and verbally abused by Kurt Osiander or head to New York City to have Marcelo smile as he chokes you unconscious.
Win a Competition: Most of us won’t make it to the podium of a grand slam event, however that local tournament is our World Championships. Training, dieting, and preparing for a tournament is grueling. Sure we have all heard “There is only winning and learning in BJJ,” but dammit we all want to win it all just once. As the Whitney Houston song goes “give me one moment in time, where I am all I can be.” With time, effort, and all the better competitors in your division getting promoted, you too can have your “one moment in time” at the top of the podium.
Meet One Person with the Last Name Gracie: Just let me meet one Gracie. A real one, not a fake third cousin who uses the Gracie name. Heck even with the bad PR, I will settle for Ralek, but would prefer Kyra or Rickson. There is just something really cool about meeting somebody who is a blood relative of the inventors of the martial art.
Train when you over 40: Helio Gracie trained well beyond the age of 40. Dan Inosanto still rolls at age 75. Same for Chuck Norris. If you are able to take care of your body through proper diet, plenty of sleep, annual physical check ups, and a regular physical activity, you might be able to join the ranks of these legends and train well into your golden years.
Train with Your Child: There is a good chance you might be your child’s first BJJ coach. Some parents bond with their children over football, movies, or shopping. As a BJJ parent, you will be able to help train your child and instill many positive life lessons through BJJ. A nice bonus is bully proofing your child against older and bigger kids at school.
Teach a class: Teaching BJJ likely won’t be a full-time endeavor, but you might reach a point in your BJJ journey where the coach or owner of your academy asks you to fill-in or help to teach a class. Passing along your knowledge, skills and passion is a great honor and responsibility. It is also a lot of fun, if you are really passionate about the sport.
Master One Unstoppable Move: “You better not let Bob get a hold of your ankles” or “Don’t let Ann get your back.” Bruce Lee once said “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.” With time and practice, we can all develop one position or move where we become dominate. While the possibilities in BJJ seem infinite and overwhelming, mastering one aspect of the game is possible. It can all start from a position or guard we enjoy playing from there, it is building upon the foundation of that base and finding the right move or sequence that makes us unstoppable.