10 years ago I decided to become a literal white belt at something new – Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. I had been riding bikes for 12 years at that point and had achieved a reasonable level of skill and fitness. But my progress at that point was only in small increments, which is typical when you reach a certain level of proficiency with anything, and I wanted to feel that thrill again that came with being new at something.

You know what I mean – that feeling that you’re progressing in big jumps and that you’re able to do something new on a regular basis. I remembered what that was like when I first started riding and wanted to start Jiu Jitsu as a way to inject it into my life again.

So I found a Jiu Jitsu school near me and started on what has turned out to be a profound chapter in my life. Jiu Jitsu has taught me a lot about myself and helped me to be a better person and coach, both of which have helped the mountain biking side of my life.

A few weeks ago I was honored to receive my black belt in BJJ, which is something that only happened because of the help of some great people along the way. The journey has had its ups and downs but in the end it’s been a journey that has changed me in a lot of ways.

When I look back on my journey I see that there are lessons that I took from it that have a lot of carryover for mountain biking as well. Musashi told us that in order to understand your chosen art better you must study other arts since they hold lessons that can help us on our chosen path. For me, BJJ has been a way to deepen my understanding of mountain biking and what it takes to be a “black belt” at it as well.

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You can also check out the notes below in case you don’t have time to listen to the podcast.

Lessons Learned From Earning My BJJ Blackbelt for MTB

– Prepare people for the journey and take the pressure off of fast progression for beginners.

– A black belt is just a white belt who didn’t give up.

– You have to take care of your body if you want to get a black belt – 10 years is a long time getting your ass kicked.

– Black belts think about less than the beginner, they just know exactly what the most important thing to focus on is.

– You can’t go hard all of the time.

– Focused drilling is the key to progress BUT don’t drill for muscle memory, drill to understand the principles behind the technique.

– Technique is the window into the principles that make up the sport.

– Identify a problem -> Research an answer -> Drill the technique -> Apply the technique

– You learn on easy opponents and pressure test stuff against hard opponents.

– Nothing can replace time on the mats.

– How to compete and why it is important.

– Focus on the journey.

– You can’t get better by yourself.

Until next time…

Ride Strong,

James Wilson

MTB Strength Training Systems

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