“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit

There comes a time in every new challenge where the mood you were in when you agreed to the challenge has long since gone, the novelty has worn off and perhaps the reality of your task sets in. The naïve excitement gets replaced with something else a little more grounded and things settle into a rhythm. You settle in to the grind.

I’ve been training in Brazilian Ju-Jitsu for about 2 months now so I thought it was about time for a little update from my last post.

Physically, I know what to expect from my BJJ sessions now — pain, lots of pain. This has come to be an accepted fact and the minutes before I head to the session I make sure I take some time to crank up the music loud in my earphones if I’m feeling a little weary, because taking it easy isn’t really an option. Emotionally, the sessions are less predictable. Both the beauty and curse of BJJ is that it comes down to technique — the winner isn’t necessarily the strongest, it’s the one who knows what to do to turn the situation to their advantage. Technique, technique, technique.


Given that I’m still relatively new to it, I tap out in defeat a lot more than I’d like and as fit/capable as I am in other situations, it often counts for very little on the mat. However, coming up against a wall that doesn’t crumble so easily has been very good for me and this is, ironically, exactly what I respect and adore about Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu; there are no shortcuts and the will to succeed means nothing without the will to put in the deliberate hours. Slow progress, hard earned. As a result, my rare victories are all the more celebrated.

You get out what you put in with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and the dedication of the people I train with is inspiring. As is their patience with me as I do my best to catch up. An Australian friend of mine much, much further down the road in BJJ than me (she both competes and teaches) told me before I started that whatever place I chose to train with, should feel like family. This is certainly true of the sparring partners I now call friends; friendships forged in sweat (so much sweat) are a special sort.

I’ve come to hugely respect the sheer focus, integrity and hard work that is necessary to progress with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Those interested in a casual fling should look to find another outlet — BJJ takes long term effort and dedication. It requires complete attention; it takes late night training and all the social sacrifices that comes with that. But, really — anything worth having is worth working for, right?

I got to thinking recently about how the resilience I’m developing through my BJJ training applies to so much more. Patience, respect, a refusal to quit and a humble recognition of the areas you need to improve — all of these things are forming a solid backbone that strengthens my mental ability to cope with other endurance adventures and vice versa. It’s confidence building and persistence is a muscle worth strengthening. Just as I refuse to listen to my legs when they scream at me on a hill, so I refuse to accept defeat on the mat until I have absolutely run out of options — then I roll straight back over to try again, always striving to improve. It’s quite incredible how clear your thoughts become when entrenched in a painful arm bar — I think anyone wanting to make a change in life would do well to parallel this simplified focus.

There’s a picture of Muhammed Ali in the changing room of the gym and every time I see it, I’m reminded of this quote — an important reminder that before success, there must be discipline.


Yes, perhaps it’s true that the naïve excitement of martial arts has left me and been replaced with something else. Intertwined with the preparation for the other challenges on my horizon is a deeper respect and understanding of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and a commitment to the long, difficult road that leads somewhere worth going.

Video by Joshua Halvatzis.

Find him on Instagram / Twitter — @JoshuaHalvatzis
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