Mind over strength is the key

30 December 2022

It took less than two minutes for Petty Officer Electrical Technician Nathan Smith to be submitted by his opponent in his first Brazilian jiu jitsu (BJJ) competition.

But that didn’t deter him from getting back on the mat. 

“The guy I lost to went on to win the competition and I took a bit of solace knowing that,” Petty Officer Smith said.

He had been interested in the sport for many years but wasn’t able to fit it into his work schedule till he posted ashore last year.

This led to his first competition at the Australian Jiu Jitsu National Championship in August.

“Nerves got the better of me in my first bout,” Petty Officer Smith said.

Apart from the physical aspect, Petty Officer Smith enjoys the mental challenge, saying
a strong mind was more important than physical strength - like a physical chess game.

“A smaller, weaker person can beat a stronger, more physically dominant individual,” he said.

“There is so much to learn in regards to what can and can't be done, and you're forever thinking.

“It's an ongoing game of who can remain one step ahead of the other person.”

With his young daughters also learning the sport, he sees many benefits.

“You challenge yourself in many ways and build mental resilience that helps you outside of the sport,” Petty Officer Smith said.

“To be able to go to the gym and make relationships outside of work and have a normal conversation has been great.”

The martial art of BJJ focuses on wrestling, or throwing an opponent to the ground, then controlling and gaining a dominant position, which accrues points.

Following the setback in his first competition, Petty Officer Smith later placed first in the Gi division at the NSW BJJ Winter Cup as well as second in Gi and first in No-Gi at the Wollongong BJJ Open.

At the recent NSW BJJ Summer Cup, he narrowly lost in both finals and walked away with two silvers.

“I lost in the last three seconds in the Gi, and had even points in the No-Gi, which I lost by referee decision,” Petty Officer Smith said.

Along with more than 230 other Defence members, Petty Officer Smith receives financial support from the ADF Martial Arts Association to compete.

The association also supports grass-root level competition for members across nine recognised styles of martial arts combat sports.



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