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Pirate's musings and misadventures...
Somehow over the last few years I've developed an interest in endurance sports, and that's recently lead me into Triathlon. The aim of this blog is to work out how the hell that happened, and to document some of my training musings and mishaps. I'll try not to make it too long and rambling, but given my writing style, that might be tricky...

Kung Fu fighting

Pirateby PirateSep 3rd 2011
To think, I was originally worried when I started this blog that I'd become a compulsive blogger, updating every day, and now it's been weeks since my last entry. Ah well, I'm trying to write a thesis at the moment, so at least I've got a compelling excuse!

As I remember it, last time I described how cycling to work converted me from a lethargic layabout into a somewhat more active individual. Well, after almost a year of work, and months of 10 miles of daily cycling, I packed-up and went off to study at the University of Reading. For my first year there, my only exercise consisted of the cycling I'd do when I returned home for the holidays and took up my job again for a few months. Actually, that's not strictly true. I did give running a go a couple of times, but it left me a sweaty, wheezing wreck, so it didn't stick (at the time). Essentially, during the time that I was actually at Uni in that first year, I reverted somewhat to the person I'd been before I took up cycling. Things changed after that first year though...

I arrived back after the summer holidays determined that I would take up some sort of activity. I'm not sure whether it was the fitness aspect that appealed at the time, so much as a desire to learn a new skill and involve myself a little more in Uni life. I'd tried archery a couple of times in my first year, but it wasn't really for me. So, I wandered around the freshers fair, waiting for something to catch my attention (I seem to remember thinking that fencing might be fun), when I ran into a girl who has, subsequently, become one of my best friends. At the time though, we only vaguely knew each other, having met and chatted during a week long practical course at the end of the previous year. It turned out that she was the captain of the University Jiu Jitsu club, and she encouraged me to come along and try it out. In lieu of any better ideas, I decided that I would.

For those with no prior knowledge of Jiu Jitsu, it's a defensive martial art which teaches the use of locks and throws against attackers. While there's not really any sparing, it is full-contact and very physical, and you have to learn to perform well under highly pressured conditions.

I think it's safe to say, and I'm sure those that knew me at the time would agree, that I didn't really show any natural aptitude for Jitsu when I started. Despite this, and despite some exhausting training sessions, I persevered. In fact I persevered for four and a half years, changing clubs to the Bristol one when I moved here for my PhD, and at some point during that time, I got good. Please don't mistake that comment for arrogance; I would never say that I got really good, but I did start to understand and enjoy Jiu Jitsu more, and there were times, most memorably around the time of my light-blue belt grading, that I felt like I really 'got it'. So why did I stop? Why am I not writing this blog on a Jiu Jitsu website? Well, the simple answer is because I took up triathlon, but that doesn't tell the whole story. For a start, I'd found myself becoming more interested in running (more on this next time) but, concurrently with this, I found that I wasn't enjoying Jitsu as much any more. It all just became a bit too serious. Let me put it into context: at the time I was a dark blue belt. The next grading for me was to brown (which is then followed by black), and a brown belt grading is not something to be taken lightly. Even now, thinking about it sat at home in an armchair, I still feel a tingling of dread. Grading to brown requires a very large investment of time, effort and, frankly, pain, and I wasn't sure I could (or wanted) to commit that. Simply put, I just didn't want the brown belt badly enough and, without that desire, I couldn't bring myself to go through all the training necessary. I'm aware that this could sound like I just gave up, but I think it was just more of a change of priorities, and it was an incredibly hard decision to make. Jiu Jitsu had been a massive part of my life for over 4 years (when filling out PhD applications, I'd always check to see of the University offering the post had a Jitsu club) but in the end I decided it just wasn't for me any more.

So where did this leave me. Well, since I'm writing this on a triathlon blog website, I guess that's fairly obvious. However, before the triathlon came the running but, as the old saying goes, that's another story for another time!
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