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.

Looking for stability? Structure?

This is the story of Josh Norris, SBG Athens athlete and assistant coach.
SBG Athens Ga
Before coming to SBG, Josh felt literally lost.

From ages 18 to 24, Josh had lived in ten different places in five states. One of his parents had passed away, and the other disappeared from his life. “I had lost my family by blood, family by bond, the structure that was high school and my literal home,” Josh says. Lacking structure in his life, he says “chaos took its place.” He ended up in Athens by chance, just another stop on his journey.

Josh had always been interested in fitness and the martial arts, but he didn’t see a future in traditional martial arts. He was excited to get involved with Mixed Martial Arts (like the MMA program at SBG) since “Mixed Martial Arts are pressure-tested by their nature.” SBG gave him a chance to learn these pressure-tested skills, to get involved in something concrete and practical. He ended up finding that chance and more. In his words:

“At the time I thought SBG would get me a great workout, train me in martial arts that actually work, and would let me apply myself towards a goal. Well all of that did happen, however I found something so much more. I found the most positive and supportive group of human beings in my life. Each coach and member of the gym genuinely cared about me and wanted to help me not just in my goals within the walls of SBG but in my life outside the gym as well.”

He says that he found a passion in martial arts, but even more, a reason to stick around in one place for a while. “I didn’t know what would happen next in life, how I’d make enough money or survive, but I did and whether or not my “Tribe” at SBG knows it, I did it with their support.”

He now owns a home and enjoys a stable life. He feels like he’s regained a sense of family at SBG that was missing for a long time. Regularly attending classes at SBG has Josh feeling stronger at 185 lbs than he did weighing 205 lbs and working out in a traditional setting. He feels stronger, more patient, and has the confidence that goes with acquiring skills that he knows work. He has to test them in sparring on a regular basis. In so many ways, Josh is thankful that he found SBG.

Here’s more of Josh’s advice:

  1. I cannot tell you all of the benefits you will find at SBG but I can tell you that in one way or another, you’ll become an even better version of yourself.
  2. Everything you put into SBG, you will get back in some form. Whatever your goal, we can help you reach it. If you think you can’t do it, you can and you will. You will have fun, you will be safe, you will learn amazing skills and you will enrich your life.
  3. The only catch is you have to earn it, but each and every step of the way you will have a Tribe by your side, working together to become the best possible version of ourselves.

Do you struggle with some of the same things with which Josh 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).