newb advice from a new father

A few months ago we finally got to meet our daughter, our second spawn. And of course i look to BJJ for guidance.

With our first child, i read everything i could get my hands on, talking to everyone that had children, and annoyingly to those that didn’t. I wanted to make sure I didn’t go in blind, and that i didn’t screw anything up….selfishly forgetting that it’s my wife that will be pulling the weight, ripping, gushing, likely pooping, and spending precious energy on deciding on loving or hating me through it all. I remember being frustrated finding that everyone’s opinions and pointers differed drastically, everyone had different plans, and none of them went accordingly. But always the same, “don’t worry man, you’ll do fine.”

Looking back now, i remind myself of the non-BJJ people that consistently ask about what to expect on day 1; how to be prepared, what to know first, how to get in shape first, or how to excel or win at BJJ. And i distinctly remember the look i got from other parents exactly matching those of the BJJ practitioner to the newbs. In one form or another, it’s the same, just show up. Don’t worry, you’ll do fine.

I know from BJJ that nothing is even remotely as important as mat time. And as i translate this to fatherhood, i see it’s the same. No study of life even remotely comes close to simply living it, especially in the creation of it, and the shared life that follows. I learned more in his first day breathing than i did with months buried in books about first poops, latching, and skin-to-skin contact.

I still maintain my steady study of the process of our second child growing towards toddlerhood, but with the comfort of my “mat time” with our first to keep me relaxed and breathing throughout. I’ll focus on the details i missed with him, and the new ones that will appear with her. With my fresh mat time i have less fear, i’ve seen some stuff. I’m more free to enjoy the process, decided what to bring for the hospital downtime, what photos we wanted to capture, whether to eat the placenta cooked or raw, dried into pill form, or not at all.

The difference in studying BJJ before and after any amount of mat time is enormous. Once you have mat time, your study is clearer, more focused. In some ways it can still be overwhelming, but at least you know why you’re studying it, and get better at filtering what applies to your specific journey through BJJ. Likewise, studying how to father is compounded infinitely by being a father. And life by living it.

To get good at Jiujitsu, to “win”, there is no faster way than to start living it, getting your feet wet, and gaining mat time as soon as your comfort allows. Your fears will diminish and your questions will become more applicable and specific, less driven by fear of the unknown. A minute of mat time serves you better than a month of youtube. Get after it!

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Published by: neutralgroundbjj

Jon Friedland here, finally putting some of my thoughts to type. I've been training the better part of 20 years, receiving my black belt in 2007. I’m a 10-year dojo owner and head instructor of Brazilian Jiujitsu. Started training Jiujitsu casually in early 1995, formally in 1997. Teaching BJJ since 2000, i received my black belt in 2007, opened my academy, Neutral Ground, in 2005, am the head instructor, and am currently a 2nd degree black belt under Master Pedro Sauer.

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