Life Lesson: Everyone’s The New Guy Sometime

Over the past 6 months, there have been a handful of times that I’ve sparred with someone who hasn’t sparred much (or at all) before that night. It has been an interesting experience for a couple of reasons. First, it really highlights my progress. I get down on myself from time to time because the guys I train with are getting better at the same time I am, so I don’t always seen that I’m getting better. However, when I roll with someone brand new, it illustrates it for me.

Another reason it’s an interesting experience for me is that it reminds me what it’s like to be the new guy. It wasn’t that long ago that I was the new guy. I didn’t know what it mean to have an underhook or how to hold my hands in a gable grip. If someone put me in half-guard, I had absolutely no clue what to do. (Now I just have no clue, but not “absolutely no clue”.) It’s a good reminder of the fact that even the guys that routinely dominate me were new guys at some point. It might not have been at this gym, it might have been a decade or more ago, but there was a time when even our most experienced guys were “the new guy.”

It’s not just BJJ where this is true either. It’s all aspects of life. Looking back I can see lots of areas in my life where there were things I didn’t want to start or didn’t want to try because I didn’t want to look like I didn’t know what was going on. Which was funny, because I didn’t know what was going on. I think practicing BJJ has helped me see that if I want to learn something or do something, I’m going to have to start at the bottom, and that it’s okay to start at the bottom, because that’s where everyone starts. I’m reasonably sure that I’m fairly patient with new classmates, because I remember clearly what it was like to be brand new. I hope that carries over into other areas of my life as well, and makes me more patient with “the new guy” in all areas.

5 replies on “Life Lesson: Everyone’s The New Guy Sometime”

  1. I really appreciated your thoughts on being the new guy. I’m getting a LATE start. I’m 43 and have my first class on Monday. While Im really excited about it, I’m pretty nervous. ( Mainly be because of my “elderly” condition – lol) I don’t know what to expect, but I’ve been the new guy in lots of situations before. I’ve been relatively successful most of the time. Hopefully the trend will continue with my bjj training!

    1. Good luck tomorrow. Also, 43 isn’t unheard of. One of my coaches started at 40. There are 2 white belts at my gym over 50 years old.

  2. This is a great site! I’m 41 years old and like you started a new activity, though I started boxing 3 months ago. I’ll be fighting in my first match at the end of November. However, I’m thinking of switching to BJJ since I’ve had some head injuries that are a bit worrisome. I know there are injuries in BJJ, but not the same as boxing. I went to a few trial classes but the learning curve seemed much higher than boxing. (Ex. two beginners in boxing can spar and learn a lot from the sparring match, not sure two beginners in BJJ can do that, etc.) I wanted to email you some questions as a beginner BJJ guy. Thank you very much! (I’ll give my real name over email.)

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