Written by: Cristiano Del Giacco

Early in December of 2012 I entered a private eye surgery clinic and underwent a procedure to correct a detachment of the retina in my left eye. This had been my eighth operation in a little over ten years. During my down time and recovery I had a lot to think about, as now this was pretty much all I could do. My regular day to day busy schedule of work, teaching, training, studying and writing had come to a halt. The following series of articles will be based on my thoughts and contain paraphrases of the conversations I had with myself during this time. And no I do not think am not crazy for talking to my self….


One of the main things that draws me to Jiu Jitsu is the reliance on dedication to succeed in any facet of the art. I know the cool new Gi’s on the market and the action movie style techniques being developed of late help capture the interests of many people enticed to train Jiu Jitsu, I myself being one of them. I own over ten Kimonos and find myself up late at night researching new Gis and techniques. But I believe that arguably dedication is the one aspect above all, that will further an individual in the pursuit of their Jiu Jitsu goals.

One can have intent. Intent to train, intent to win, intent to master technique and intent to attain their next belt. Intent is important, as it is the beginning of a journey. You cannot achieve a goal without first starting it. Though intent is not an action.

“I have the intent to lose weight…. right after I visit KFC”

This situation will, more often than not, result in a healthy loss of weight. Intent is the idea of the fire, it is not the fire.

One can have passion. Passion is what makes you wake up at three a.m. to purchase a Gi from a limited online sale. Passion will fill your coffee table with Jiu Jitsu magazines and give you the drive to watch hours and hours of techniques and fights on YouTube. Passion will make you scream to your teammate in a match causing you to lose your voice for days. Passion, in anything, will help you see your goal from a closer vantage point than intent alone. But it will not see you reach your goal. You may have all the new DVD’s, shirts, gear bags, fifty kimonos patched up with your favourite teams logo, but this won’t get you where your goals may be. Passion is the fuel for the fire but it is not the fire.

Dedication is the key. Though intent and passion do play an integral role, dedication will be the catalyst. Dedication will turn intent into action. It will make you drive past the KFC. It will make you choose not to spend the night drinking and lead you to the healthier options. Dedication will turn passion into a plan. Staying up watching countless techniques on YouTube, or from a DVD, will be fruitless unless dedication takes over. Plans dealing with how you will learn them, drill them, incorporate them into your game and execute them. Dedication will go further and lead you to decide, from practical use, which of the techniques will work for you and which will not. Dedication will force you to be honest with yourself. For example; I have a goal to pass a particular individuals guard. I have a plan, I drill this plan, I try to execute this plan but fail. Dedication does not let me stop. Dedication will force me to be honest with myself if regards to my plan and if I truly am dedicated to my goal, I will be honest with myself, find the weakness in my plan and work towards fixing it. That is dedication. Dedication is the fire.

I do not profess to be the Pope of dedication, preaching from the Jiu Jitsu Vatican. Far from it. Dedication helped me to achieve every thing I have ever done in my life. Many people have remarked that; when I have a goal I am very driven and focused on achieving it. But many times I ease off on this virtue. Let me give an example of my own experiences and the thought process that resulted.

Most of the people who know me and have spent time with me in the last few years will know that I have been able to drop a considerable amount of weight for competition. This is not a gift or a genetic thing, I am just dedicated to it. I set a goal weight and avoid everything that will hinder me from reaching that goal. For three years in my hiatus from Jiu Jitsu, I spent many a day in the gym working on the act of lifting heavy things and putting them back down then repeating. I learned from a variety of sources the importance of diet and I became obsessed. Now, I do not mean obsessed to the point where I developed an eating disorder. No, I mean obsessed in the way I was compelled to research the nutritional information of all foods. I mean all foods. From carrots to KFC. I organised my meal plans, with help from Natural Bodybuilding champion Jim Cordova, to a point of extreme preciseness. For three years I would design recipes and entering the individual food items into a Excel Spreadsheet. Which I had created in order to crunch the numbers, relating to the protein, carb and fat content of each item, and give me a report on the nutritional value of the meal. This would then be factored into my daily allowance of calories, which would be adjusted depending on my results and goals. I would cook all these meals three days in advance strictly weighing each individual item to be as precise as I could possibly be. If I caught someone eating even the smallest cherry tomato from one of my meals I would go ballistic, just ask my brother. This has now been eased off as I no longer feel the need to look like an illustration of the human anatomy you may see in your doctor’s office. Though I still use the information I learned in this time, integrated with new information I have gained, specific to Jiu Jitsu competition, in order to make weight for a tournament.

Earlier in the year I competed at the AFBJJ Queensland state titles, the first time as a featherweight. To do this I lost a total of nine kilos over an extended period of time. I had dedication to thank for this. Later in the year at the AFBJJ Australian Cup I attempted to make the same cut in weight. This time I lost my dedication and focus. I find myself many of times stuck in the chocolate and confectionary isle at the supermarket, fixated on the different coloured bags of M&M’s often taking a few home. I did not have a problem with this in the past, but now it had proven a problem. I had the passion to succeed; I trained intensely, often twice a day. I ran everyday to work on my weight and I organised my meals correctly with the intent to lose weight. Alas, I was not dedicated. Dedication is forcing me to be honest with myself. I had trained like a beast shedding blood and sweat. I spend hours cooking and organising meals. But I could not talk myself out of not going to the chocolate section at the supermarket every night after training.

Just to let you know I did make weight that day. I made weight after arriving two kilos over weight, I made weight after running for an hour and a half in the sun wearing countless shirts, jackets, sweat pants etc… I made weight not through my dedication, as the late nights dealing with and M&M coma clearly stated I did not have any. I made weight through my business and training partner Matt “Snowy” Thomson’s dedication to getting me to make weight. He ran next to me, encouraging me and pushing me. I was not dedicated to that part of my journey, he was. I thank god someone was.

Dedication has made me look back and realise I need to get back on track. Dedication has kept me out of that evil isle at the supermarket all the way through this recovery period and dedication will get me to where I want, no, need to be.

So, in conclusion, I believe that in order to efficiently and effectively progress in ones Jiu Jitsu journey, dedication should be the main focus. Ask your self; “Am I dedicated? What are the costs to my life if I become dedicated? How am I dedicated?” These questions will provide answers and information, which you may not want to hear. But in the end, bring you closer to your goal, if you make the choice and allow them.

Dedication is the fire.

(This article was in no way endorsed by KFC.)

Written by: Cristiano Del Giacco

Original photo by: Benicio Murray

About The Author

Cristiano Del Giacco
Co-Founder & Lead Editor

Co-Founder of BJJ enthusiast based on the Gold Coast and collector of Kimonos, travelling the world training with some of the worlds best.

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