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How to Get Your Ass Kicked

A few weeks ago I decided to sign up to my first Brazilian Jujitsu competition in Italy.

After transforming my body a few years back I wanted to put my strength to use.

Image result for bjj fightEverybody told me sparring in the gym pales in comparison to the intensity of real competition, and I wanted to test myself.

“Everybody gets their ass kicked in their first competition. You just got to get it over with,” my instructor told me.

I only had 20 hours on the mat,  but I wanted to rip off the band-aid. I figured 10 more weeks of intensive training would at least give me a fighting chance.

Sadly, this plan went to shit pretty quick.


The weekend after I signed up I got super whacked at a festival and tripped on a speaker wire.

What followed was Image result for embarrassing momentthe most epic/embarrassing falls you could imagine, sending both myself and the concert speaker crashing to the ground in front on everybody.
Not exactly my smoothest moment.

I crushed my hand in the process, and after several days of constant pain I ended up in a clinic for an x-ray.

Luckily my hand wasn’t broken, but the injury kept out of training for over six weeks.

Compounded with this, I quickly found out it was Gi competition (with kimodos), of which I had ZERO experience.

Here’s a video I made after my first lesson with it.

In total, I only had a total of four hours practice with it before my flight to Milan, but I was still determined.

Here is me training the week before the competition.

Last week in 20 seconds. #bjjlife #gym #naughtynomad

A video posted by Mark Zolo (@naughtynomad) on

The Fight

The night before the fight I was already a little nervous, but then I foolishly looked up my opponent on Facebook, and one of the first pictures I saw was him on a podium with a silver medal around his neck.


Needless to say, by the time I arrived at the venue the next morning, I had completely psyched myself out.

I linked up with my instructor. He too had traveled to compete.

“How’d you do?” I asked him, staring at a fresh cut across his face. It reminded me of Scarface from The Lion King.

“Third place,” he said, looking disappointing. “But I almost had the guy who won. I got a little unlucky.”

“That’s excellent!” I said, surprised by his reaction.

The guy was a true competitor.

“Any last minute advice?” I asked.

“Just try to relax and enjoy it,” he said.

I tried to internalize it, but the minute my name was called everything went out the window.

The next thing I know I’m in line to be next on the mat.

I look around.

There are hundreds of people in the stands, cheering as fighters try to rip each other apart. There is no holding back, and no backing out.

Image result for scaredMy heart’s pumping, my nerves are shot, and no amount of woo-woo mantra bullshit is fucking helping.

The referee calls me to the mat.

I turn and look my opponent in the eye.


We grapple each other. He tries to take me down on several occasions, but I sprawl and defend. I quickly realize I know almost nothing about performing take-downs myself. Back in gym we had always sparred from our knees.

We wrestle and wrestle, and before I know it’s almost half way through the match and we haven’t even gone to ground!

I’m completely exhausted. My body feels like we’ve been at it for hours.

Finally we go down. He pulls guard and I’m on top of him, his legs wrapped around me.

I stand up, jam him up, and try to choke the fucker. I put my fist on his neck and twist his komodo to tighten. I don’t really know what I’m doing. His eyes look like their about to pop out of his head, but I just can’t enough pressure.

Eventually my strength gives way.

Image result for bjj americanaHe sweeps me and does some Bruce Lee shit and all of sudden I’m on my back and he’s at my side.

I try to break free, but he arm locks me with an Americana, and I feel it ready to snap.


I’m done.



In the end, I only lasted three and half minutes before I nearly got my arm broken, but it was an experience I’ll remember the rest of my life.

Here is my reaction after the fight.

My reaction after my first fight.

A video posted by Mark Zolo (@naughtynomad) on

What a rush.

Believe it or not, all things considered I was actually glad at how I performed. All I want now is to improve my skill, learn, fight, and repeat.

I realize it’s a marathon, not a spirit.

I will try, try, and try again. And eventually, I will be victorious.

I’d like to thank Arete Malta BJJ gym for this opportunity.

For anybody interested in their own masculine development, I always recommend Jack Donovan’s The Way of Men.

8 Responses to How to Get Your Ass Kicked

  1. Jopie December 2, 2016 at 2:38 pm #

    You should train at least a year before participating in a competition

  2. Bragama December 2, 2016 at 9:54 pm #

    Komodo is a big fucking lizard.

  3. Jeff December 5, 2016 at 7:43 am #

    Hey Zolo,
    At least you had the balls to compete- we both know many don’t. Nothing to beat yourself up over as that sport is one that’s pitted for a lifetime pursuit.

    Aren’t you from Dublin? Do you or any of your mates know Conor McGregor?

    • Mark Zolo December 5, 2016 at 2:12 pm #

      Thanks man. I probably know somebody who knows him. Ireland is pretty small.

  4. Antti December 6, 2016 at 11:25 pm #

    My pleasure! I’m so happy so happy to read this and see, that you really enjoyed the ride 🙂
    Competing is such a great experience, you learn a lot from yourself when you’re staring your opponent eye to eye, right before the referee yells “fight”

    I’m really hoping to get you on board for some future tournament! You did great Mark and you have right attitude! It is only matter of time when you will score that gold medal!
    See you on the mats bro 🙂


  5. guy December 10, 2016 at 11:51 am #

    good luck with getting your ass kicked! hope it goes well!

  6. Tim February 25, 2017 at 7:28 pm #

    Loving the honesty here – “no amount of woo woo mantra bullshit is gonna help”…thought the same thing for an impromptu public speaking at a company wide meet up. i literally thought words might not come out of my vocal chords when i hit the mic.


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