I began my journey with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in June of this year. As a 41 year old woman with no background in martial arts – unless you count a couple semesters of Tai Chi – I knew I was moving into unknown territory. And I was knowingly entering this extremely physical, male-dominated sport as someone with chronic pain. But from my very first class I was convinced Jiu-Jitsu was going to be a part of my life.
Two months and many black and blues later, I received my first stripe as a white belt. It was a bit of a surprise because I missed some classes when I was sick. And then there was the week I couldn’t participate because of back spasms (not Jiu-Jitsu related). I still went to class and took notes.
Once I felt better I was attending class on a daily basis. Within three weeks of my first promotion I was rewarded my second stripe. The roller coaster was taking off much faster than I expected. But after the great roll that helped move me up a notch – where I experienced a flow state, devoid of mind chatter and the ability to see opportunities to attempt submissions – I was on a descent, entering that all-too-familiar mode of self-sabotage. My ego told me I had just gotten lucky. And as if by self-fulfilling prophecy every roll since has been the opposite of flow state; I’m over-thinking and over-muscling, causing fatigue and slowing reaction time.
So it’s time to hush the ego and embrace the suck. I won’t stress about flow state because it’s not something you can force. Instead I’ll focus on drilling techniques versus relying on strength when I roll. It winds up costing my body more recovery time when I don’t. And more time off the mat feeds the negative mind chatter.
Next time the roller coaster feels like it’s descending, I’ll remember that that’s the most thrilling part of the Jiu-Jitsu ride because that’s where the learning and growing happens. I’ll also look back on the reasons I chose Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and why I’ll will continue to stick with it:
For fun – I laugh a lot
To get out of my comfort zone – I overcome fears and challenge myself every day
For my sanity – thinking about or performing Jiu-Jitsu forces my monkey mind to focus on a goal
For fitness – sweating removes toxins from the body…and the mind
It’s a distraction – it temporarily takes my mind off of chronic pain
For the mystery – where will all the hard work take me in six months, two years, etc.
And for friendship – you create bonds with teammates as you grow together
Jiu-Jitsu is a process. I knew that going in. It’s all about absorbing techniques, forgetting techniques, improving and failing over and over – that’s the roller coaster that is Jiu-Jitsu. And there’s more to come on this crazy ride.
Are you ready? Whether you’re afraid to start or you’ve been rolling for years, I’d love to hear from you.