What I’ve Learned Dedicating Myself to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
I’ve always loved sports. Not necessarily the actual sports I’ve been practicing, or even love to a particular sport — I’ve loved the whole concept of sports. Feeling the rush before a competition, seeing the focus in people’s eyes. Pushing your body and soul to the very limits in order to improve upon yourself in each and every moment for the future. Do the heavy work today in order to reach success tomorrow.
What I love most about sports is the mindset of the highly competitive and skilled players, who are up against as highly skilled and trained competitors in the same bracket. They understand the concept of delayed gratification, which has been extensively proven to correlate with people’s success in every aspect of life.
With that being said, I definitely find downsides (of varying intensity) to all sports — the primary one being a lack of respect. Lack of respect towards the opponent(s), the referees and supporters of the other team(s). Being a person who highly value respect, this serves as a massive turn off, and is the very cause to why I despise quite a few of the most popular sports [soccer].
I spent my childhood and adolescence practicing various sports in search for the one that awakened my inner interest and love for the sport itself. I never settled emotionally with any of them, there was always a lack of genuine interest and dedication. Naturally, I took a break. I decided to focus on fitness and weightlifting, which turned out to be my interest for quite a few year — were I acquired some great feats of strength (145/170/200).
But truth to be told, when I settled with the fact that I was fed up with [only] being strong (and happy with the fact that I looked good naked), my interest faded quite rapidly. I guess genuine interest can’t be found in external sources.
During the years of strength training I practiced boxing, MMA and submission wrestling, but decided that my life was to busy in order for me to live a fulfilling life training that many times a week (which would be nothing but a great lie as I basically didn’t do shit — oh the irony of being a teenager). Though, I did enjoy it a lot. Anyhow, I did quit. Decided to focus more on the weights.
In the beginning of 2015 I experienced quite some turmoil in life. One could say things were completely upside down. I felt the urge to dedicate myself to something. I felt the need of a clear direction and purpose. Accessing my prior experiences and love for sports, I decided to get back into martial arts.
Thing is — there are quite a few of them. Where does one start?
I knew I did not want to get back into striking. Too much testosterone and too little respect as of my earlier experiences. Grappling it is. As a programmer I used my most developed skill, google — to find out that Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) would be the grappling style to rule them all.
Heading towards my local BJJ academy I was thrilled. Couldn’t wait to get started. Jumped into the car and rushed over to sign the 12 month subscription and purchase my first GI. Got home. Googled everything I had to know in order to be a bloody champion on the mat. Ate some great food. With great anticipation I headed to my first class. I’ve wrestled before, this was going to be easy-peasy. With my GI on and muscles pumped, nothing could go wrong.
I headed on the mats, and got to experience what absolute helplessness felt like. I was tied to knots by people half my size and did not know what the actual shit to do. Regardless of what I tried, there was some nasty person on my back trying to snap my neck off. I tried to bench press these god damn people off my chest in order to get submitted to pieces (mentally that is). Tried to take them down and got myself in a nasty choke. My physical ego was in bloody pieces.
Too much will. Too much ego. Too much strength. Too little technique. Too little knowledge.
Physically and emotionally devastated I crashed in bed after the workout and wondered why the shit I would sign up for a 12 month contract prior to even trying the sport once, just to find out that I would get played with by everyone. I’ve never experienced anything like it. I felt like quitting day one.
But I kept going. Kept practicing. Kept learning. I was getting better for every practice, and I could feel it in my whole body. For each and every practice I did attend I could feel my skills improving. I got addicted to the feeling of improvement, the feeling of constant self-development.
The major key for my development and focus were my great coaches and fellow training partners who embraced me with open arms and stayed respectful and humble despite of my continuous attempts to fucking break my opponents with strength and intensity.
Slowly I felt myself adapting to the culture of the sport and academy I was spending most of my time outside of work and studies practicing at. I became more humble. I became more determined. I started to analyse things more thoroughly. I developed genuine respect for other people. I let go of my ego.
Then life struck me, and I didn’t practice BJJ for 6 months. I quit. Didn’t go there, didn’t step into the academy once. I spent 12 hours a day working. Looking back, this was one of the worst decisions I’ve ever made. Slowly I felt something inside of my dying.
Things had to change. I quit one of my jobs in order to practice more BJJ, being sure that it would bring me more satisfaction, fulfillment and success in the long-term. I was longing to get back into training. Get back on the mats.
Ever since, I’ve been practicing BJJ (just about) daily. It’s one of the strongest and best decisions I’ve ever made. Why?
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioners are bloody masters on focus and intent. Spend some hours on the mat and you’ll see my point. They have the ability to look ten steps ahead of every situation. It’s human chess.
Utilising what I’ve learned during my hours practicing BJJ, I’ve improved all aspects of my professional career and social engagements.
Focus. Humility. Intent. Respect. Dedication. Determination. Friendship.
I find myself spending hours and hours practicing the same moves in order to execute them perfectly when the right moment appears. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is the definition of Delayed Gratification.
Spending as many hours on the mat as I do every week has enhanced every aspect of my life. I couldn’t be more grateful for what the sport, my coaches and training partners give me each and every day.
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