Building a Better You

IMG_1115Often one will hear a Jiu Jitsu student or instructor speak on how Jiu Jitsu has changed their life. For the average person, it may be difficult to see how rolling around with someone on the ground can allow you to achieve enlightenment, or allow a person to reach a near euphoric universal clarification on all that is grand and beautiful. Frequently these types of statements are brushed off as “hippie talk” and the individuals considered spurious at best. I will attempt to clarify in my own words to give a more tangible explanation on why people, including myself, feel this way about the art of Jiu Jitsu.

To attain a high level of proficiency in Jiu Jitsu it requires years of practice, dedication and discipline. To become GREAT at Jiu Jitsu it would take all of the same, but even more of the key ingredient………………..time. Time is a fickle thing. It is a currency of sort. We spend it on watching T.V., eating, working, video games, sleeping, or chasing tail. We spend it on drinking and partying, playing and parenting, living and loving, and the list goes on and on.
Jiu Jitsu is unique in its abilities to initiate a sustained ripple effect throughout your life. Unlike other activities or hobbies that can occasionally cause one to change short term habits, few things can almost force one to overhaul their entire life for the better.  Addiction to Jiu Jitsu quickly forces you to choose your priorities. Would you rather party or train, would you rather hang out at the bar after work or train after work?
Jiu Jitsu is hard, very hard. And because of that intrinsic characteristic it will either make or break most people in the first year, if not the first month. In a 30 day period one will come into contact with the fear. And this fear will stand in front of you like a mile of 10 foot walls. The fear of physical contact, the fear of altercation, the fear of failure, the fear of hurt pride, the fear of commitment, and ultimately the mighty ego, will be the undoing of many first timers.
Jiu Jitsu asks you to show up voluntarily to a place where you will quickly realize how inferior your abilities to defend yourself truly are. The truth will be clear on the mat. The mat is a sort of looking glass. It will show you in complete clarity where your mental toughness is, how big of an ego you have, and how resolute you are.  You will be humbled day in and day out for years to come. You will have to actively make the choice to show up every day or every other day and learn. You will have to push past the claustrophobia, the physical discomfort, and the fear. Overcome your pride, selfishness, and inherent uneasiness with not “Winning”. You will have to get over the fact that you simply don’t know everything. All of these breakthroughs are humbling. Each  of the hurdles  you jump give you strength and every day you pick up something new, your confidence increases and your perseverance is all the more evident through your mini personal victories every day.
On this journey you will learn to trust your training partners with your body, trust your instructors with your well being, and trust yourself that you have the willpower to dedicate yourself to a difficult mental and physical challenge. Through this initial process you are almost born again. Because every skill both physical and mental acquired along the way can be extrapolated to every aspect of your life, patience to solve complex problems, the ability to defuse altercations through conflict resolution, and the mental stoutness and clarity to think past the visceral responses that are generated by our feeble monkey brains. The road rage, the tough guy/girl routine, the need for approval and validation will slowly dissolve as you are less and less dependent on your ego and pride to guide your every decision. The benefits are countless.