I have been choked and kicked in the face, and I love it! If anyone has ever talked to me about it, you know I am into the martial art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ). Like most practitioners, if you ask anything about it, we are happy to talk your ear off about it. I get asked often why I do it and there are actually many reasons. First and foremost, I am always trying to find ways just to keep my body moving. I also have a deep interest in combat sports. I boxed years ago, even competed a few times and loved it, but boxing took a big toll on the brain, granted I haven’t seen any long term affects, but I didn’t ever want to get there. I love the game of combat sports, hand to hand combat is such a strategy.I had a friend who was always telling me to try BJJ, and after years of putting it off, I put on a gi and went to my first class, after that I was hooked.
The game of BJJ was what hooked me first. Even though I tapped (and still tap) regularly, trying to figure what to do, how to react to… the strategy of the sport is just addicting. BJJ is often referred to as human chess and for good reason. For every move you or your opponent makes, their is a counter and who is just a half a second ahead, is who will advance. That is the difference in skill levels, seconds and half seconds. Sometimes when I roll (sparring) with an upper belt they just seem to be just a little bit ahead of me and the same goes when I roll with someone less experienced than me, I tend to be just a little ahead of them. There is also making a wrong move which is your downfall and it takes so long to learn these mistakes and not to make them, but when someone does make one, as you progress you start to see it. Learning from your own mistakes and capitalizing on others, that is when your game starts to improve.
As I have done BJJ for the past couple of years I have noticed that it has also helped with my management of stress. It is an active meditation. During training the mind needs to be right there on the mat. The focus isn’t on bills or your job, it is on your opponent not choking you, the focus is right here and now. Jiu jitsu, and exercise for that matter, puts you in stressful moments and situations and you deal with that situation. It trains you. Then in life the way you deal with stress has been trained, you’ve been there. Granted the stress is different, but you have a training in dealing with stress. When some one has my back in jiu jitsu and is trying to choke me out and put me to sleep, I have to breathe right, be calm under the pressure and make the correct decision to escape the position. I can’t freak (stress) out, I’ve got to be calm under pressure. Now how does that training I have had relate to my real world? Somebody cuts me off in traffic and almost takes out my front end of my car. I can either ride the guys rear, pull up next to him, flip him off and cause a pretty heated situation which no telling where that can lead, OR I breathe for a second, realize the person is in a hurry. They made a bad decision in cutting me off, but that bad decision doesn’t need another bad decision, to escalate a situation that isn’t that bad, to one that could end pretty horrifically. We hear and watch the news and many times an incident like this is handled in a deadly manner. All because the stress wasn’t controlled.
I think the most important aspect of Jiu Jitsu is the camaraderie and community you build with your fellow practitioners. You’ll go through a training session where you are trying to choke a guy or gal, arm bar or shoulder lock them, but after, you’ll set and talk about life, get to know people from all walks of life and become good friends. It’s great! I’m so glad I made the decision to hit the mats.