How Aliveness Makes Your Life Better

If I told you I had the ability to increase your confidence, help you lose weight, help you get stronger, teach you to be comfortable in uncomfortable situations, and introduce you to some incredible people;  would you be interested?
SBG Athens Georgia
What if I included improving your ability to defend yourself from a violent attacker? Are you now interested? Still not sure.

I’ll add to it by making you a better friend, father, husband, and person. Have I finally got your attention? Great!

I have just the thing to help you achieve things you never before thought possible. It’s actually pretty simple. The cure to all that ails you is Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, also know as BJJ.

What is BJJ? Simply put, BJJ is a ground based self defense that helps one control an often times stronger and larger opponent by the application of leverage. What differentiates BJJ from the large majority of other martial arts is the application of Aliveness. Aliveness is best defined as non-choreographed  training against a resisting opponent.

This is where I like to pull out the following football analogy. I have witnessed many of the University of Georgia’s G-Day games. This is where the Offense plays the Defense in a live and refereed scrimmage. Both sides are trying to “win” by imposing their will on the other players. They all play for the same team so there is obviously a large consideration given to safety but pride is on the line; as well as a Steak and Lobster dinner.

This is as close to a real football game as you can get. It would look drastically different if both sides of the ball knew what plays the other was running. If the offense told the defense it was running play X, the defense would certainly know to run defense Y. At times that can be very useful and may even be important during the learning phase of the plays. Nevertheless, the way a football team gets better is by learning how to react when things go off script (on either side of the ball).

Football isn’t a paint by numbers game, and neither should be your martial arts training. In the vast majority of martial arts people stand in lines, do choreographed dance routines, and memorize one and two step sparring scenarios. I’m reminded of this sketch with Jim Carey on In Living Color.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu evolves, as most things do, because of competition. That competition can be done in the gym against training partners, against strangers in a tournament, or on the street against a violent attacker.

The meritocracy of BJJ provides all the benefits I mentioned at the beginning of this essay and then some. It creates mentally strong men, women, and children. When you find yourself stuck in a bad position you are forced to relax, problem solve, and find success (or be submitted). Just as important is the confidence created is backed up by an actual ability to defend oneself. It’s a win for everyone!

If you would like to learn more, fill out the form below and one of our coaches will call you back as soon as possible. This is SBG, you will be okay.

Looking to take your workout to another level?

This is the story of SBG Athens coach Lee McMichael.
SBG Athens GA
Lee felt like he was in a rut before joining SBG Athens.

A lifelong athlete active in several sports, Lee had always been in decent shape. After leaving school, however, he says that he never developed a satisfying routine. He would vacillate between being completely dedicated to a workout routine and doing the bare-minimum to stay in shape. “I was never able to find a reason to keep myself in shape,” he says, other than wanting to look good or avoid “being super-unhealthy.”

He says that he found SBG Athens due to being an MMA fan. He knew that the gym had spawned Forrest Griffin, and living nearby, he wanted to see what the gym had to offer. According to Lee, the gym has much more to offer than he would have anticipated.

Lee has found an outlet to channel his competitive drive in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Learning BJJ at the gym, Lee has found a sport that will allow him to compete for decades. “Aside from some flag football and things like that in college I think too many of us just put that kind of thing aside after high school.  However, something like jiu-jitsu gives you something that you are always working on and working toward.  Even if you don’t compete in jiu-jitsu you still are competing against yourself or just trying to get a little better each day.”

Not only is Lee excited to have a good reason to work out, he says that in SBG Athens, he has found a deeper sense of community. “I was a pretty aimless 25 year-old when I started my journey here at SBG,” he says. Training martial arts, and training with other martial artists has “both directly and indirectly have helped me a great deal in providing some direction and sense of purpose.” He has coached both kids and adults at SBG, becoming a staple at the gym. At SBG he has plenty of training partners, students, and teachers, but he has also made valuable personal connections. He says that the community of the SBG tribe has benefitted him greatly: “I have met many amazing people and I am luckily to call quite a few of them “friend!”

Here are three tips that Lee wants to share to potential tribemates:

  1. Don’t quit!  Even if you can’t make it to as many classes or do as much as you want.  Just keep coming back!
  2. Don’t take it too seriously, especially early on.  Make this something you enjoy doing, not a chore that you must do!
  3. Talk to people!  Early on I did not do a good job of putting myself out there and making connections at the gym.  We are a welcoming place but the gym and its’ people can only do so much.

Do you struggle with some of the same things with which Lee struggled?

You CAN make that change and TRANSFORM your life also!

Fill out the form below and one of our coaches will call you back as soon as possible. This is SBG, you will be okay.

Want to challenge the limitations you set for yourself?

This is the journey of Dr. Ben Fuqua: PhD, Professor of Literature, and martial arts student at SBG Athens.
SBG Athens Ga
Before joining SBG Athens, Ben struggled with anxiety and lacked healthy outlets.

Ben was convinced that people were meant to choose a path and never deviate from that path. He found success in the classroom, earning several advanced degrees and teaching college courses before the age of 30. Something was missing, however. He was drawn to the idea of being more active—a youth-athlete and lifelong sports fan—but resisted dedicating himself to becoming more active. “I thought that training [martial arts] was for other people,” he says. “I thought that you already had to be athletic to learn to do something athletic.” Afraid to leave his comfort zone, Ben ignored the itch to train for years.

Ben became aware of SBG Athens (then called The HardCore Gym) during the rise of MMA fighters like Forrest Griffin, Brian Bowles, and (co-proprietor) Rory Singer. He was sure that he couldn’t belong there. “I looked at the gym as this institution in sports. They have world champions…I was happy just living in the same town where these guys trained.” Growing more and more interested in finding a way to round out his life, Ben started researching local martial arts programs. He discovered that SBG Athens offered a whole arrangement of beginner classes, even encouraging beginners.

In the middle of writing his PhD dissertation, Ben says he finally became exhausted with “spending all of [his] time obsessing” over work. He walked in off the street without letting anyone know he was coming. He ended up having a private workout with one of the coaches just days after walking through the door, and he felt welcome. Ben has been attending Brazillian Jiu Jitsu classes at SBG ever since.

“I think that just walking through SBG’s doors has been the biggest obstacle I’ve had to overcome,” he says. “I was in my own way…Grappling gives me a chance to express myself in ways that I can’t get anywhere else. I get to exercise while practicing an art; I think that the gym gives me a balance that had been missing from my life for a long time.”

Here are a few tips that Ben has found helpful:

  1. Just train. Forget whatever your reservations are for a minute and give it a try. To paraphrase SBG’s motto, “You’ll be okay.”
  2. Don’t worry about being a tough guy. People that last in martial arts are the people that learn to love it for their own reasons, people that are willing to put in a lot of time and effort, and people that are willing to risk failure.
  3. Remember to tuck in your elbows. (This one will make more sense when you start grappling. It can never be emphasized enough, though).

Are You Lost in the Weight Room and/or Lacking Self Defense Skills?

This is the journey of Lucas Federico: GM of SBG Athens, Kid’s Coach, and BJJ Brown Belt. 

Straight Blast Gym Athens Ga

Before joining SBG he was lost in the weight room, unmotivated, and lacking self defense skills.

Lost in the weight room, Lucas went through the routines and motions, but without direction or understanding didn’t know how those things were helping him. Finding motivation to keep going and the subsequent lack thereof became the main reasons he couldn’t keep up with a routine.

Having worked in bars in a college town, Lucas was concerned that lifting weights wasn’t the way to learn how to defend himself and keep me from getting his a$$ kicked. He said, “That’s going to sound like the thoughts of a crazy person, but having worked in bars in a college town you find yourself surrounded by people looking to ‘beat their chests’ and going to the gym had it’s own sub culture of ‘tough guys.’” He got tired of being in the weight room surrounded by people thinking they were tough just because they had big arms.

It was in 2006 that Lucas began working with a bunch of college kids that were learning the fairly new sport of MMA. “It sounded pretty intense and had piqued my interest”, he said. They had all told him he would love it and would fit right in. After a few weeks of waiting for one of the guys to bring him by the gym he got in his car to drive over and check the place out.

He was greeted by one of the owners, TUF and UFC fighter, Rory Singer. He recalls his first class, “The first class was fun and different and I felt like a fish out of water, but it was just was I was looking for, the opportunity to learn how to fight, actually fight.”

Lucas has been at the gym ever since and it has transformed his life in every aspect possible, and all for the better. He is a more confident, relaxed, focused, and happy individual than ever before in his life. He is surrounded by some of his closest friends and family and benefits from being a part of one of the greatest social networks around. “I get to live the life others dream of because I wanted to learn how to defend myself. Learning MMA and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has been a long road, but one I wouldn’t change for anything,” he continues.

I have been at the gym since 2006 and my life has transformed in every aspect possible, and all for the better. I’m a more confident, relaxed, happy and focused individual than I have ever been in my entire life. I’m surrounded by some of my closest friends and family and have one of the greatest social networks because of this “gym”. I get to live the life others dream of because I wanted to learn how to defend myself. Learning MMA and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has been a long road, but one I wouldn’t change for anything.

To any and all new students Coach Lucas has the following three tips that helped him transform:

  1. Take baby steps and enjoy the journey. Any transformation worth a crap takes time and sacrifice, but if you focus too much on the destination you’re going to miss out on all the other great benefits a place like this has to offer. So many long lasting friendships have been forged inside the walls of this academy. I always hate seeing people miss out on that.
  2. Stay consistent in your training. Even on days when you are sore, come in and jump on the mats.
  3. Last piece of advice I’d like to offer, BE COOL!

Are You A Middle Aged Man Struggling With Stress, Weight Gain, And Lack Of Motivation

This is the journey of Chris Riser: 50 year old lawyer and father of two teens.

Straight Blast Gym Athens Georgia

Before coming to SBG Athens, Chris struggled with middle-age stress, weight gain, and the motivation to deal with them.

On the recommendation of his trainer at another gym, he reached out due to his love of fitness kickboxing. He wanted to learn about real kickboxing. After a few years of kickboxing classes Chris “learned how to punch, kick, and defend, had a lot of fun, and got in better shape.” At 44, he was in the best shape of his life and boxed competitively at the famed Gleason’s Gym in Brooklyn, New York. Although he lost that fight it didn’t stop him from getting his first victory a couple years later in an old high school gym in West Virginia.

“My family told me I was crazy, my doctor told me I was crazy, but nobody at the gym told me I was crazy.  My friends and trainers at the gym just helped me prepare for my boxing matches and feel confident.”

It was later that Chris was inspired by another gym member to get into powerlifting. He competed a couple of times and “put up numbers that made [him] happy.” Finally, after several years of watching everyone training BJJ, he finally “plunge[d] into full-on striking and BJJ training a little over a year ago.” His only regret is that he didn’t start sooner.

Since training at SBG Athens, Chris has accomplished quite a bit: he’s lost a “bunch of fat”, gained “a lot of muscle”, reduced his stress level, made friends, gone 1-1 in amateur boxing in his 40s, hit a 1000# powerlifting total at age 50, completed a Coaching Candidate Course, and traveled to three different SBG training camps all over North America. Confident that he will earn his BJJ blue belt in the next year or two, he proudly believes one day he could be, “SBG Athens’ oldest black belt.”

I leave you with the top three tips that helped Chris transform:

  1. Show up to train, even if you don’t want to. I’ve never regretted showing up. I’ve regretted not showing up a bunch of times.
  2. Believe in “This is SBG; you will be OK.” The instructors know what they’re doing. Your training partners are there to help you, not to beat you or hurt you.
  3. Prioritize protein and lift heavy weights.