Fritz Castro - Blue Belt Advice

What motivated you to start training BJJ?

I first experienced the effectiveness of BJJ when I was training Muay Thai/MMA at MTI(3 years ago). At the MMA class, during rolling sessions, Chris who trained at GSW and MTI alternately, would make me tap out 3 or 4 times in a round. It was frustrating as I'm bigger and stronger than him. He impressed me with his skills and techniques on the mat and that inspired me to pursue BJJ. Chris recommended that I give BJJ a try at GSW and he praised the gym and that began my BJJ journey.

What advice would you give to beginners who are just starting their BJJ journey?

Well, attendance is a must!, drill the basic techniques frequently, take notes, participate in the Saturday rolls and ask questions from the instructors or experienced belts.

What motivated you to continue training BJJ, even when it was challenging or frustrating?

Drilling session is always challenging for me. It's just that my listening and body coordination skills are very poor. I become anxious and stressed out when I do not succeed in a technique. But now, I strive to keep calm and relaxed during drilling session(sometimes it works). Since improvement is my goal, I embrace any challenges or frustrations during the training.

Did you ever experience any significant injuries during your BJJ journey, and if so, how did you deal with them and continue to train?

I got two serious injuries from training(so far): a bruised rib and an injured meniscus in my right knee. I couldn't take the pain so i took a break for weeks( it think each injuries, i needed 3-4 weeks break) and got a proper care from a physio. Your body will recover better if you take a break.

Were there any specific training partners who played a significant role in your development as a BJJ practitioner?

Yes, there were partners that have been instrumental in advancing my BJJ and i'm glad that these guys are still around and still drilling/sparring with them at the present. The extra special rolls with Geoff, Caglan and Tony also helped me improved my BJJ - Their feedback on my BJJ is invaluable. The following instructors contributed to my BJJ improvement as well: Shane, Spencer, Darren and Keiran.

How has BJJ impacted your life outside of the gym, and what benefits have you seen from your continued practice?

BJJ has improved my strength and resilience in the past 2 years. I needed a way to vent my stress and frustration after Office. Therefore, BJJ helps me relieve my stress, drilling/rolling session and smashing people(hahaha!) on the mat always make me feel good. It’s like a complete reboot of my system. Outside the gym, I feel more disciplined, greater tolerance and capable of defending myself now (if required).

How did you balance training BJJ with other commitments in your life, such as work or family?

My BJJ journey is made easier by the support of my wife and the boys. They always show interest in how my BJJ session went that night. To keep up with my family - I make sure to spend quality time with my family on holidays, celebrate special occasions, go to parent/teacher meetings, and stay home after work(if the wife is away). To keep up with my work - I would put in extra hours of work beyond the normal office time (if needed).

Did you ever go through a period where you felt like you weren't improving or plateaued in your BJJ journey, and if so, how did you push through it?

Yes, there were times when I feel like I’m not improving or I’m stuck. But often this stage of plateau will make me remember the details that I missed in a technique and realize why it didn’t work before. So I think that stage has another benefit that you are unaware of. The key to overcome the feeling of stagnation is to keep on showing up!

Were there any particular techniques or concepts that you struggled with as a white belt, and how did you overcome those challenges?

I think it was arm bar from mount, I failed to distribute or adjust my weight on top and wrong knees positioning which allowed my partner to escape. Feedback and practice helped me overcome it. It took me many tries but i got it right (I think..)

What role did competition play in your BJJ journey, and how did you approach preparing for and competing in tournaments?

I was curious to see how my BJJ skills would fare outside the gym And also, competing would reveal weaknesses in my game. Preparing for the competition was fun for me. I stayed sober for months, followed a diet and trained harder. I dropped from 83 kgs to 79.8 kgs. But I don’t think that weight cutting was beneficial for me, because I felt weaker during the matches. Maybe I needed more stamina. Next time, I will compete at my natural weight, where I feel stronger.

Looking back on your journey, is there anything you wish you had done differently or advice you would give to your younger self starting out in BJJ?

Finding BJJ sooner is the advice I would give to my younger self. I’m not getting younger anymore and I get injured easily now and I wish my body can hold up for another 10 years. I wouldn’t change a thing about my journey, I’m satisfied with how it turned out and I’m loving the experience so far.


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