Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Comfort zones are made to be broken - Part 1

Back in the days of my traditional martial arts training, before I started my journey with BJJ, Geoff Thompson was prominent in the martial arts magazines; Geoff was also writing books that offered advice on breaking free from your everyday fears and living a better life.
Geoff talked about comfort zones, how we all have them and to increase your self confidence and to lead better lives, he suggested we needed to step out of our respective comfort zones, no matter who unsettling this would be.  Once out of our comfort zone, that zone would in turn become larger; thus, repeatedly stepping out of our comfort zones would increase self confidence and in turn, nothing in one's life would seem impossible.  You could do anything you desired with your life, as your improved self confidence and previous steps out of comfort zones would see you achieving bigger and better things in life ad infintum.
I know Geoff personally and have attended a number of his seminars back in my Traditional JJ days and I had the honour and privilige of teaching at one of his seminars in Coventry, with Geoff and Pete Consterdine.  My coach Trevor Roberts was teaching on the course and they allowed me to show a few techniques and Geoff, Pete and I became good friends; I started to read Geoff's books about his days on the doors, as I was working the doors at the time, as well as his books on fear and I started to apply them to my martial arts training and in life in general.
With Geoff and Pete, 2000
It wasn't until I started to train BJJ that I really learned about comfort zones, breaking them down, extending their size and enjoying all the benefits connected with these actions.

Way back in the mists of time in March 1999, I attended my first ever BJJ seminar at Andy Norman's gym in Hull; John Machado came over from LA and gave a seminar and I was dressed in a blue Sambo jacket and shorts and wrestling boots, no Tatami gear back then.  After chatting to John, he said I was more than welcome to come over to LA and train at his academy, together with John and Rigan.

I was in a dead end job which I hated with a passion and the offer to train in sunny LA was too good to resist, so I worked my arse off both in my day job and on the doors at the weekend and come May 1999, I was stepping off the plane at LAX, walking through the Nothing to Declare section and into bright Californian sun shine, then into a cab heading for Hermosa Beach.
With John Machado in Hull, March 1999; this seminar was to change my life completely beyond measure
After checking in there wasn't much to do as it was Labour Day when I arrived so the academy was closed for a few days, so I had time to kill.  It was the following day that reality hit me; I was sitting alone on a bench on the beach, when I started to think about what I was doing here.  I'd flown across eight time zones at the behest of a dude I'd only met once in Hull, to come and train BJJ; 'I'm from Bolton,' I said to myself, 'People from Bolton don't do shit like this.'  'WHAT THE FUCK am I doing here??!!' 

I started to panic, thinking all these crazy thoughts about being here all alone, no friends or family, thousands of miles away from home.  My friends at the time thought I was mad to come out here on my own in the first place and then I started thinking maybe they were right all along.  All my thoughts were negative ones and I was starting to talk myself round to the fact that what I was doing was wrong and that maybe I should come back home and be normal like the rest of my friends.

I even came up with a crazy idea to tell my family and friends that I'd been mugged and that was why I came back home; I left the beach in really low spirits and moped around for the rest of the day, thinking about my present situation.  Thankfully the gym was open the following day; had there been another day off before I got to train, I'm sure I would have come back home and I wouldn't be writing this piece now.  I'd have ended up back in another shitty job, cursing the whole world about my lot in life and sat at home, uttering the two words I hope never to come out of my mouth.

'If only.'

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