This Jiu Jitsu interview features Samuel Chidwick. Samuel is the creator of Martial Arts Health, a website focused on bringing important topics relating to martial arts such as injury prevention and living a healthy lifestyle. He is also a trained Sports Podiatrist who has helped many BJJ practitioners and martial artists recover from injuries and optimize their performance. In this article, you will get a deep dive into the mind of a passionate martial artist with a vast amount of knowledge and experience as a mat medic.
Submission Shark Community | Instagram: @martial_arts_health
Full Name: Samuel Chidwick
Belt Colour: Blue BJJ, Black Belt Karate
Professor: Currently unaffiliated since the club closed during Covid.
Short Term Goals:
In BJJ, to get back to training post covid, work on strength and conditioning for now and focus on competing when I can.
With Martial Arts Health, my goal is to build the website and social media presence and produce something amazing for martial artists to use, enjoy and learn from.
How long have you been practicing martial arts?
20 years on and off, BJJ for 5 years.
Where do you train martial arts out of?
The UK, mostly South Wales and Gloucestershire
Do you prefer training BJJ in the gi or no-gi Jiu Jitsu?
Gi, but I respect both subdivisions and personally try to work on both.
Have your instructors helped you in other aspects of life other than jiu jitsu?
Yes, definitely. I have been lucky to have met some amazing instructors and training partners through martial arts who have helped me in loads of ways, offering support when needed and guidance in all aspects of life. I also make a point of trying to offer support in every way that I can to my martial arts training partners.
I guess I have sort of adopted the role of gym medic too, helping people with injuries and the likes, draining cauliflower ears etc…
What are some lessons you learned from jiu jitsu that apply to everyday life?
- Breathe, look at the situation and work out how to deal with it.
- There is always a more efficient way of doing things.
- Never underestimate a 7 stone person with cauliflower ears.
- If life is trying to triangle you, get on your feet and stack it into the ground until it lets go!
How often do you train in martial arts?
Currently things have been very reduced, 3 times a week pre covid. Now I am doing solo drills and some drilling with mates (socially distanced) 2-3 times a week. I practice Katana and Jo staff once or twice a week too.
What made you want to start training martial arts?
I first started training in the martial arts because I loved Star Wars and wanted to become a Jedi.
I started training in BJJ because I went to an MMA gym after having trained in Karate for nearly 10 years, and got my ass kicked. I learned about BJJ there though and literally quit Karate the following month to pursue BJJ. I haven’t worn my Karate Black Belt since.
Do you plan on training martial arts your whole life?
Yes please!!! I will do everything I can to keep training. This is the purpose of Martial Arts Health too. To help martial artists keep healthy so that they can keep training.
I work as a Sports Podiatrist and work with loads of clients who are injured and cannot do what they love doing. I work as part of a multidisciplinary team helping to rehab these athletes, and I want to give the knowledge and information I have to martial artists too.
I hope that BJJ is an art that I can keep doing because technique will replace physicality and with the right balance of more intensive sessions mixed with lighter sessions and flow rolling, hopefully it is sustainable for the body.
What’s it about jiu-jitsu that makes it so addicting?
I think everyone experiences a different pull. For me:
1. It works. What I love about BJJ is that if a technique doesn’t work, it gets dropped by practitioners, so you know you are learning something that is effective.
2. The fact that you can roll at 100%, not many martial arts allow you to train and compete at 100% effort and then go to work the next day.
3. That feeling when you have a roll with someone who is about the same ability level and you just dance around the mat, one submission attempt after another, sweep, reversal, it just flows so nicely, it’s like surfing for me, another pastime I love. When you drop in on a wave and just go with it and ride it out.
4. The endorphin hit on the drive home after a good training session, nature’s legal high!
What has jiu-jitsu done for your physical health?
You mean besides the two broken toes, separated AC joint and dislocated shoulder and thumb…(LOL)!
It gives my physical fitness training purpose; it makes me want to do press ups and sit ups so that I am fitter when I train. It makes me want to work on cardio and conditioning work, it provides focus.
I have gotten physically bigger since doing BJJ too. I am probably 6kgs heavier than before I started BJJ, but I feel fitter for it.
Has jiu-jitsu benefited your mental wellness?
For sure, in the last 5 years I have got divorced, sold a flat which was nearly unsellable due to issues with the building it was in, bought a house with my amazing girlfriend and started two businesses. In short, lots of stressful things.
BJJ has been an amazing stress reliever and a release for me. The technicality of it means that when you are on the mats, you leave everything else outside the Dojo, even if just for an hour or two, but it helps.
I know that when BJJ stopped due to Covid 19, a lot of discussion among friends and training partners was around mental health, and we all looked out for each other. I started to speak with a therapist online during summer 2020 too because I wasn’t coping well with stress, mostly related to work and also because of a book I have been writing on BJJ which I am desperate to finish. I am pretty convinced if I was still training that I wouldn’t have needed this therapy.
If you could restart your jiu-jitsu journey, would you do anything differently?
Yes, start it in my early 20s!
Honestly, I wouldn’t change a thing because I may not have met the people I have met. In fact, going back to your previous question on BJJ’s addictiveness, the people you meet and train with are another reason it is so addictive.
What’s your advice for someone that’s never tried jiu-jitsu before but is interested in trying it?
Don’t wait any longer. Find a club (when they're-open) and train. If you don’t get on with it, find another club because each one has a different atmosphere. If you still don’t get on with it, take up golf!
Throw yourself into the social side of it too, and if there isn’t one, then encourage it.
Relax, and don’t expect too much. This is a real martial art, which means you don’t get a new belt every 6 months for just turning up. You will get tested, physically, mentally and emotionally.
Progress is slow. Sometimes you will think you are doing better, then someone will smash you, but it’s just the journey.
Get comfortable being uncomfortable.
Don’t try to power your way out of everything, relax when you can, feel for tension in your body when rolling, especially in your arms and your hands/grips and try and relax this when not needed.
But also don’t worry about anything I have just said, because you need to make all of the same mistakes as everyone else does… it is the way!!
Do you have any aspirations in jiu-jitsu?
On the mats I’m happy to be where I am. I want to stick with it, keep injury free, get better, keep rolling until the day I die and ultimately get to black belt one day, but no rush, it’s the journey, not the destination.
Off the mats, martialartshealth.com is my goal. There is so much information on training, fitness, technique etc… but martial arts health is different, it’s about discussing some of the less talked about, but just as relevant issues, from ringworm to hygiene, knee injuries to mouth guards.
It’s also my platform for wanting to share my passion about the health benefits of training, and hopefully will be a platform to release my book when it’s finished.
What’s your favorite BJJ move?
Probably a D’arce choke. It was one of the first subs I had good success with, and you can hit it from so many positions. It’s also a great move to control people with. Hitting it from the bottom of side control, even if you don’t get a tap but you get the reversal, is a great feeling.
If you didn’t discover jiu-jitsu, where do you think you’d be now?
Still getting beaten up in MMA gyms. I am not hating on Karate here, I have a lot of respect for it overall, but what I had learned unfortunately was not what I was hoping for when put to the test.
Would you like to see the sport become more mainstream?
In part yes because it obviously leads to better grassroots and investment in the sport.
In part, no, I love that it’s a little bit “underground” (especially at the moment…).
Have any of your training partners pushed you to reach your full potential?
My full potential to tap you mean?? For sure!!
I get what you mean. Some people bring that little bit extra out of you, but every roll allows you to train something. If you aren’t under such physical or technical pressure from someone, it allows you to try and work different things.
I definitely know a couple of blue belts who I wish would just get promoted to purple because I cannot find a way to beat them and it’s just a game of hide the limbs when we roll, but working on defense, and then trying to spot opportunities to attack is so much fun too.
When you were first starting, what was the most difficult concept of jiu-jitsu that you had trouble getting?
I was just trying to overthink everything instead of conceptualizing it. For example a sweep where you think, right, grab the wrist, trap the leg, bridge … it’s very slow and mechanical, but as you start to do it more, you learn to feel your opponent and it becomes a little more fluid, you feel their weight is one way, so you sort of realize what to do to unbalance them further in that way, or you switch your hips to take them the other way.
Actually, hip movement as a whole too, shrimping and hipping out, switching hips to keep someone’s weight off you etc…
If you could roll with any practitioner, dead or alive, who would it be?
This is such a hard question; I’ve had to give you three sorry:
1. Probably Stephan Kesting. I have always loved his tutorials and YouTube videos, then in 2020 when I was really struggling with anxiety around my BJJ book and other work things, I reached out and messaged him on Instagram, not really expecting anything back, but he replied to me and we chatted about book writing and how stressful it can be. I was just so in awe that he took the time to reply to a random blue belt in the UK. What a great guy he is.
2. Christian Graugart. I have read BJJ Globetrotter a few times and Iove it. I would love to go back in time to when he was travelling and convince him to come and roll and go surfing.
3. Joel Tudor, just because I followed Joel’s Longboarding years before I discovered BJJ and when I found BJJ and realised about Joel’s martial arts skills in general, it was awesome.
If you had to describe Jiu-Jitsu to someone that's never heard of it before in under 5 words, what would those words be?
Powerful, deadly, addictive, fun, deep.
What has been the most memorable moment you've had on the mats so far?
Probably the first time I experienced BJJ. It was at the MMA gym I mentioned. I was sparring with a guy who had a fight coming up. I threw a couple of kicks, we exchanged a few strikes, then he just double legged me, passed my non-existent guard and arm barred me.
I was flailing around on the floor like a fish out of water. I appreciated in an instant that I knew nothing, and I had no ground game at all, and the journey began there and then as I was flailing about tapping to his armbar.
What makes you want to inspire and motivate others?
Generally, I think there is more to life than just coasting through, I want to try and leave the world in a better place than I found it. I work in healthcare, and I believe in martial arts as a tool to help promote good healthcare. I also believe that martial artists need good quality healthcare advice and I want to offer the knowledge that I have to help others.
What are the topics you enjoy writing about on your martial arts blog?
- The benefits of martial arts training for your health and fitness
- Martial arts injuries and how to try and avoid them
- Health conditions that affect martial artists, anything that I can do to enable people to keep training is awesome
- Hygiene and keeping clean, which is more topical than ever
What inspired you to start your website?
Martial Arts Health has three focuses.
- To provide martial artists with useful information and links to help them keep healthy on and off the mats.
- To showcase the health benefits of training in the martial arts.
- To provide a platform to release my book when I have written it, and any other publications I hope to produce thereafter (I have three unfinished books I am working on).
How can people contact you and learn more about health and martial arts?
Follow me on Instagram @martial_arts_health
Follow my Facebook page Sam Chidwick Martial Arts Health
When the journey is over, how would you like to be remembered?
Is the journey ever over?
I want to be remembered as a good person, trustworthy and honorable. I believe in the warrior values and have written a lot about this on my website too. These are important to me.
I believe like attracts like and I try to put out good intentions and look for opportunities when they present themselves. I have worked hard in my healthcare career and I work with professional athletes, Team GB, premiership footballers and many more amazing people.
It is now time to turn my attention towards my own sporting passion, which is martial arts, and I would love to be remembered as someone who inspired others and made a positive difference within the martial arts community.
Thank you so much for allowing me to take part in this.