Isaac Appel, who is about to receive his junior black belt, shares his views on BJJ and how it has impacted his life. There is a lot to learn here, no matter your age or experince level!
A huge “THANKS” to Isaac for sharing his experiences and taking the time to submit them for all of us to learn from. Be sure to express your thoughts and congratulate him when you see him hitting the mat!!!
What Jiu-jitsu Means To Me by: Isaac Appel
I started Brazilian Jiu-jitsu when I turned four and it has been almost six years now. During this time, I have learned a lot of technique, but I have also learned much, much more. These are some of the things that I have learned along with the technique: Respect, Commitment, and Sharing My Experience with Modesty.
First I will talk about respect, which is a very big part of Jiu-jitsu. For example, when I roll, I try to never hurt my partner and to use more technique than weight and strength. I also want to be respectful to the instructors, because they take the time to teach me. Without respect, I think Jiu-jitsu on the practice mat would be more competitive and more about winning rather than actually doing the sport and learning a self-defense. Also, more people would get hurt. In tournaments, even though I go a lot harder, am more aggressive and try to win, I still always shake hands, congratulate and try to be friends with my opponents.
Now I will talk about my commitment to Jiu-jitsu. I try to never miss any Jiu-jitsu classes. Since I have started, I have never taken time off or had any breaks (I have only missed when I was sick or on vacation). Jiu-jitsu is just like brushing my teeth, it’s what I do. It’s part of my life. It has taught me to never give up and always finish what I start, even when I don’t want to. If you don’t work hard you’ll never get anywhere in jiu-jitsu or in life.
When I train, I try to share my experience with modesty. For example, if someone’s doing a move wrong, I help them but I don’t say “you’re doing it wrong!” or try to make them feel bad or offend them. I try to be a good partner so that the person I am training with can learn and do the move they are trying to learn. I feel like you should never make it as hard as possible for your partner when they are trying to learn a new move. It’s important to give them the opportunity to learn. I always appreciated when my partners helped me along the way and now it is my turn to help partners who have less experience.
My dad chose Jiu-jistu for me because it is the most realistic way to defend yourself. If I ever need to defend myself, I will have Jiu-jitsu in my back pocket. I feel really safe knowing Jiu-jitsu. In case I ever need to defend myself, I know that I can. I have never actually had to defend myself, but if I ever do, I will always know that I can use Jiu-jitsu and hopefully not get hurt.
If I had to protect myself, I would always use the moves I have learned in Jiu-jitsu. Most fights end up on the ground and in most other martial arts they teach only punching and kicking and kneeing. Because of Jiu-jitsu, if I were defending myself on the ground I could use many different moves.
This would be one of my strategies if I were in a situation where I had to protect myself: From standing, I would get my attacker on the ground by using the clinch. Once on the ground, I would quickly move to the mount and begin to strike until it ended or until he rolled over. If he rolled over, I would do the rear-naked choke. I would hold it until I felt safe and in control of the situation. These are the moves I would choose since they are straight forward and very useful.
When I am on the mat practicing Jiu-jitsu, these are some of my favorite techniques: First, I like to take down using the double leg. I like it because I think it works really well for me and it’s a fast way to get my opponent down to the ground. It is more effective on taller people who have trouble sprawling. Taking my opponent down usually works well for me because I am able to get low and use my strength to get them down.
Once on the ground, my favorite position is taking my opponent’s back. I feel like I can control that position pretty well so I can finish from there if all goes well. From the back my favorite submission is the rear-naked choke. If I am already on their back, it is almost impossible for them to escape this choke if you get it in tight.
If I were in a situation where I had to escape, the position I am most confident escaping from is the guard. I like the stand-up escape where you get to your feet, push their leg down, break their guard and then pass to side-control.
The last move I will talk about is a sweep from the bottom of the guard called the De La Riva. It is fun because you get to weave your legs through your opponent’s legs and take them down. These are a only a few examples of my favorite moves that I have learned. I look forward to learning more technique. Even though I am getting my junior black belt, it doesn’t mean that I should stop training and working hard. I should still train and learn more technique.
I have talked about having respect, commitment, and sharing my experience with modesty as well has some of my favorite techniques. These are some of the things that best describe what Jiu-jitsu means to me and what I have learned from being in Jiu-jitsu.
When I get my junior black belt it means to me, that I will always share my experience and help less-experienced people. I will continue treating everyone on the mat with respect and be committed to working hard and never giving up. Being a black belt will mean that there is no messing around because people are looking up to me. It feels really good to finally be a black belt after working hard and earning all of the belts that hang on the wall. I can always look at the belts that I have earned and remember the hard work and dedication it took to get to wear a junior black belt. It will be an honor!