Author: Chas Barker
I was only 14 years old and had no interest in martial arts whatsoever. In fact, me sitting on the couch with my dad watching "Man Kind" shove a sock down the Rock's mouth on a Friday night episode of WWF (now WWE), was the closest I came to martial arts, lol. I was always a sporty kid growing up thanks to my parents, however I had no interest in contact sports.
I grew up in Bendigo which at the time was predominately a boxing town when it came to martial arts and contact sports. Boxing was huge in Bendigo, I remember going to events that filled up a basketball stadium.
In 2003 my older brother attended a boxing event at the Bendigo basketball stadium. During that event there was an exhibition BJJ match. Unfortunately I was not there to see it but it obviously caught my brothers eye who started as a result of seeing that match.
Not long after starting BJJ my brother took me along to a class which was my first real eye opener to BJJ and it was an eye opener to say the least. BJJ has evolved so much in Australia since 2003.
At the time I was recovering from eye surgery so was unable to train myself but agreed to go along to watch. Now when you think of a typical BJJ gym you think of a matted out area with jigsaw mats, padded walls, boxing bags, sometimes boxing rings and cages, well not back then. These guys were training on the second floor of a night club. Being 14yrs of age I had never been in a night club so had no idea what to expect. The floors were sticky and the smell of booze was evident, however the guys that were there training were amazing people and most of them have since gone on to achieve great things in life and most of them now BJJ black belts to 3rd degree black belts.
I sat on the side while I watched these guys wrestle. It made no sense to me at all but the one thing I did notice is that somehow the big guys were not the dominant ones. It seemed to be that the smaller guys were quicker and more technical and somehow managed to beat them.
After the class, being typical of training in a night club all the students and coach had a "knock off beer" while I was introduced to them. They were all from different walks of life and had different stories and some of them would end up playing a role in my coming years.
I left after my brother had his "knock off beer" and told him "It was good but I don't think it was for me". Evidently this wasn't the best answer as the next two years consisted of my brother giving me BJJ beat downs at home until I finally decided (agreed) to start.
I look back on 2003 now and sometimes wish I did start then, however I was a young and small 14 year old who was regularly mistaken for 11-12 years old, there were no kids classes then. Perhaps if I started then my interest and attitude towards BJJ wouldn't be as great as it is now, or perhaps it would be better. There is no knowing where I would be now if I started training in 2003 however I do know that life is to short to regret something as little as when I started.
"I'm doing what I love now and that's what counts, living life and being in the moment".