Learning the art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu was never a goal of mine. It was never on a checklist of things to accomplish nor did I know much about it. Prior to being dragged to the gym by a good friend, I had studied Muay Thai for a few years and that was good enough for me. I felt that I could defend myself appropriately should the situation arise and that I had a good way of staying in shape. In the striker vs. wrestler situation I had thought I would come out on top. I was cocky in this sense. Jiu Jitsu most certainly humbled me and also came with many other unforeseen benefits.
The most immediate benefits I saw and perhaps the most obvious, were the physical ones. For my first few months, I was easily swept or taken down by anyone I rolled with. The ease with which my training partners could control me was astounding. It took some time but eventually training had improved my balance. After six months these same people could no longer control me with the same ease, they had to work for it. To me this was real improvement. It was measurable, quantifiable, and was improving over time. Jiu Jitsu has also greatly improved my breathing. Being asthmatic, my first year at Crossroads was a difficult one. Not only was I being smothered by my opponent, my own body was working against me in that I wasn’t getting enough air to stay as competitive as I wanted to be. Almost three years later, my breathing no longer bothers me during a roll nor does it in regular life. I am happy to say that I haven’t used my emergency inhaler in over eight months. This never would have happened without regular training.
The physical challenges of Jiu Jitsu have also helped me develop mentally. It is an eye opening and humbling experience to be tapped out, to experience defeat. Not only are you experiencing defeat, you are acknowledging it is ok in doing so. Once I recognized this and began to learn from it I was no longer as afraid of failing as I once was. Jiu Jitsu has made failure ok, and because of this I have pushed myself to try to accomplish things that I never would have in the past. I’m sure in reading this it comes off as cliché and sounds like one of those mystical aspects of training in a martial art, but the mental fortitude you can earn by practicing Jiu Jitsu is very real and has helped me immensely.
Overall, Jiu Jitsu has helped me by being a developmental tool. It has developed me both physically and mentally. It has pushed me to grow as an individual and has taught me that my limitations are not nearly what I thought they were.