One of the main reasons I spent five years as a Brazilian jiu-jitsu blue belt is because I was only able to attend a class once a week for the first three years of my training. At that point in my life, I had other responsibilities and really had to dig deep to find the time to commit to my Brazilian jiu-jitsu. As a result, I wound up having to sacrifice my lunch hour at work to train. It was difficult, but part of my commitment was to never miss a class. I figured once a week was better than nothing at all, and although my progression was slow, I was still progressing. In time, changes in my life created more opportunities to train and I took full advantage. Nevertheless, it is important to remain consistent, not only for your own progression, but also because it shows your instructor that you're dedicated to your training. Of course, life will get in the way of your training. This is to be expected. Things such as injuries, a new marriage, children or work can cause you to stop training even if you do not wish to. I like to remind my students that “the mat is always here.” Take care of whatever has caused you to stop training, but make sure to return when you can. Otherwise your commitment becomes weak and then you'll start using excuses like “I’ll start training again next month.” Even the most seasoned practitioners can fall a step behind if they are away from the mat for a while. The nice thing about Brazilian jiu-jitsu is that it won’t take you very long to return to form, provided you come back as soon as you can. About the Author: Jay Zeballos is a Pan Jiu-Jitsu Championship 2009 gold-medalist black belt under Jean Jacques Machado. He has been training with him for more than a decade. Zeballos is also the co-author of The Grappler's Handbook: Gi and No-Gi Techniques. His most recent book with Machado is The Grappler's Handbook Vol. 2: Tactics for Defense.

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The 2021 Diamond Nationals took place on October 8th and 9th, the first time the prestigious event has been hosted since 2019. World class competitors gathered in Minneapolis, Minnesota to test their skills in forms, weapons, point sparring, and more.

In the early 2010's, Ken Warner (otherwise known as ZenInc on YouTube) always shared his "Top Five" on Facebook after major sport karate events. Reflecting on these posts has inspired me to write a top five article of my own for the Diamond Nationals, and I plan to continue writing these articles after each tournament I attend. Special thanks to Ken Warner for his contributions to documenting sport karate history. Without further ado, here is Jackson's Five for the Diamond Nationals.

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