Over 40 Bjj, the ego and training with Prof Danijel Brajčić

“Jiu-Jitsu teaches us every day so much on and off the mats that all we need to do is just apply them in our lives in order to become better. “
This week on GB Blog we speak with Prof Danijel Brajčić of GB Belgrade in Serbia. Prof Danijel is a representative of Prof Carlos Lemos and has managed to grow one of the largest jiu-jitsu teams in Europe. Prof Danijel has a wealth of experience and a unique ability to express his philosophy.
Prof Danijel Brajčić shares some advice for over 40 Jiu-Jitsu students and his philosophy on progress in Jiu-Jitsu. Enjoy this interview.
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GB: We have a great number of 40+ / Masters athletes in Gracie Barra that are interested to know how older GB Black belts train.
What are the adaptations that you have made to your training as the years on the mats have gone by? What advice can you share with over 40 Jiu-Jitsu students?
Prof Danijel: First of all, we have to separate the ones who started early and continued training for a long period of time and the ones who started late with JJ.
That is a huge difference regardless of the athleticism of each.
The discipline of training during the years made us forever athletes who are always taking care of a healthy lifestyle. Those athletes don’t have many issues in competing in older age.
Healthy habits such as healthy eating, enough sleep, healthy and safe periodization of regular and continuous training are a must.
When older, life is the one that is hard for us to maintain together with training. Kids, incomes, and other important life moments are the ones that can really have an impact on everything in life. Of course, competition continuity is very important to maintain in order to be able to last.
However, I am sure that it is the question that answers differ so much.
I have always admired black belt athletes who continued competing in older age. They will always have my respect.
With 3 pieces of training or less per day, 6 days per week, for the last 15 yrs I have maintained under 85 kg. I’ve trained 100% and had less than 10% of body fat so naturally, I competed more often.
But also I had periods when I carefully maintained 90kg because in that time I have taught 10 classes per day (individual and groups) – So in order to save energy it was much more convenient for me to have a bit more weight to be able to spar more effective and with less energy with my toughest students.
It is important to be objective about the short and longer goals in training. Preparation is everything. When younger, training camps could last 3-4 months before the start of the season, and then we would just need to maintain our form until the season ends. When older, I would not even start preparation without at least one year of carefully planned preparation and without significant injuries during that period.
One competition doesn’t mean much but continuous competitions during one competition season could mean a lot!
To compete is important but to stay healthy and without injuries is much more important for us. The most important thing is to be able to train regularly and competitions are just bonuses for us who love them.
GB: How do you see Gracie Barra Jiu-Jitsu as having changed your (and your student) lives off of the mats? What have been your life lessons from jiu-jitsu?
Prof Danijel: Being a forever student of Jiu-Jitsu and how it affects people during the classes, I found it inspiring when I manage to apply fundamentals on a black belt level. And with this, I don’t mean only by fighting on the mats.
I have learned at younger ages that everything understands on the mats we transfer in our lives. We all do this but someone does it with understanding and others will learn that in time.
Jiu-Jitsu is a universal understanding of everything in life.
It is like phonetics and pronunciation in communication…before JJ people couldn’t even understand there is a certain rhythm which we can use in our favor to be able to get what we want from our interlocutor. When I hear my brown belts talking I can hear how they use changing rhythm in communication with others just like the way they fight. Their self-confidence shines through them and they are leading the conversations in their favor.
Gradually they are learning how to transfer this and be better in their business, everyday problems, tasks, family matters, and especially personal lives.
In order to be able to move effectively and be able to use our movements in our favor in the fight, we have to get in shape so we have to think about healthy habits. We do this indirectly because it is not important to us as is to learn more techniques. So people do it with ease. I witnessed so many times that people lost more than 30kg in just 4-5 months and not even seeing it hard.
There are so many benefits that one can get from GB JJ if we have a good influencer (coach or professor).
Investing in skills(ourselves) is one of the most important things we do in our lives. JJ teaches us every day so much on and off the mats that all we need to do is just apply them in our lives in order to become better.
Maybe the thing that personally could emphasize the most is reconstructing a healthy ego.
Ego is very important, especially for competitors. So it is not healthy to kill the ego as I often hear but to reconstruct the healthy one that can be switched on and off when needed but always guided with healthy cognitive empathy for everyone and everything around us.
GB: Can you share some of your concepts and experience in learning jiu-jitsu with the Gracie Barra students?
Prof Danijel: My method of teaching is that we train self-defense through Jiu-Jitsu sport. The BJJ set of rules teaches us to progressively collect the points during the fight. What we indirectly gain with that is to save the energy in the proper way to be able to finish the fight at the end (to force our opponents to tap ) but without the possibility to give the chance to our opponent to attack us.
This cannot be done without hours of practicing and live training where we besides the techniques, learn our opponent’s habits and way of thinking but also their knowledge which is transferred to us. This is why is important to constantly change our partners in training during the repetition of techniques, drills, and sparring sessions.
But nothing can be done by night without consequences so the periodization of every plan is very important for me. It takes time for Jiu-Jitsu to be able to train healthy and without big injuries that can prevent you from training. If we stop, it is very hard to get back to the main focus must be on health and injury prevention.
Training smart is much more important than training hard.
See also on GB Blog: GB Inspiration: Prof. Flavio Almeida on overcoming struggles
Writer: Mark Mullen, Gracie Barra Black Belt