This post is a little more personal than my others, but I wanted to just share some of my thoughts and experiences regarding how Jiujitsu has impacted my life. Obviously the majority of you do not know me, but I was not always the dedicated BJJ practitioner I am today. In college, I did not even know about BJJ. I was definitely your pretty normal college kid; up all night, parties, bad diet etc. I was in trouble a lot. When I think about it now, it makes me cringe. My best friend told me about this BJJ club at the college I was attending at that time in Vermont. I remember him telling me I probably wouldn’t like it because “it was basically wrestling a bunch of dudes.” So I never signed up.
Then when I came home from summer I decided I was going to go for it anyway, and walked into one of the gyms in my area. (Which I am still at to this day, and it has become my home.) I had no idea what I was doing or getting into, but after my first class I was essentially hooked. I loved it so much that I refused to go back to school in Vermont. I quickly applied to schools in the area so that I could stay and continue my training. As time progressed, I had my obstacles. I would have months where I would love it so much, then get sidetracked by something and my training would suffer. At one point, I incurred the worst staph infection of my life leaving me in and out of the hospital with a hole in my leg, and unable to walk for a month. When it was healed, I was right back on the mats. There were weeks where my training was inconsistent and then there were weeks where I would be non-stop. Once I started competing, I would get frustrated with losses, but I remember my first gold and the feeling I took away that day. BJJ really taught me the value of losses. You need to lose to be able to learn and also so you can appreciate the wins that much more. A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor right? It basically took me some time to find my place.
I realized quickly though that I absolutely loved this sport. It made me so much better of a person. The partying stopped. The bad eating stopped. It took time though. I did not evolve into who I am today in one night. Looking back over the past few years, I cannot even put into words what Jiujitsu has done for me or what it has meant. It isn’t just a physical sport for me. There is a great deal of emotional feeling attached with it as well. My Coach, Brad Court, has impacted my life in a huge way. He is a fantastic coach and a mentor that I look up to every day. He has seen me in absolute tears to standing on top of a podium. I can’t begin to express my gratitude towards everything he has done for me. He has given me knowledge and insight that I will carry with me my entire life. Along him, is my team. They are an absolutely amazing group of people who push me every day to be a better BJJ player and overall better person. Iron sharpens Iron. I truly value all of you.
Last December, when I received my blue belt was one of the best days of my life. It was a grueling promotion but every second was worth it. I remember having tears in my eyes when my name was called. It was just an awesome feeling to finally take my next step. Over the next few months I will admit my training became irregular again. I was in a relationship at the time that was very time consuming. I also had a corporate job that was making me miserable. I stayed because there was a lot of pressure of having job security and the reputation of this specific company was so well-known. I was getting through the very unhealthy aforementioned relationship that was draining me of all my energy and time. It finally ended, and not to my surprise, I found myself on the mats to help with the process of healing that we have all gone though. I also quit that job because I realized you really cannot sacrifice your happiness. It is important to remember that. You need to live the life YOU want, not the one others want you to have. It was a lot happening at once, but BJJ brought me back to peace of mind. Once I was back on track to training every night, I decided it was time to compete again.
I jumped into my first tournament at blue belt; Nogi Pans. I was a little worried and remembered what it was like to get those pre-competition nerves again. I went, I competed and I took Bronze. I also decided to compete in the Open class that day. I lost my match, but it was a fantastic match that I learned so much from. Obviously, we all want gold. Even though I did not get the gold, I was happy. Not satisfied, but I was happy. I was also proud and I will be the first to admit that. I had gone through so much that summer, but I was not letting anything hold me back from what I should have been doing all along.
Now that 2014 is coming to a close, I have been doing a lot of reflecting, which is one of the reasons that prompted me to write this blog post. I could go on and on about how my life has changed in such a positive way because of BJJ, but this post is just scratching the surface, if that. I have realized that no matter what life throws at me or what obstacles may arise, BJJ will always be there. There are still times when it can be tough with aspects such as soreness, the injuries, and the bruising, but I love it all. The good and the not so great. Even during the times where my training was put on the backburner, it is always there to come back to. Sometimes I wonder where I would be if I never started training. Quite frankly, I don’t think I want to know. I am so happy where I am at today, and I love living a healthy lifestyle. Jiu Jitsu has given me meaning to what happiness truly is.
I have met the most amazing people throughout this journey of my training. I have attended seminars and trained with some elite players as well such as Rafa Mendes, Wilson Reis, Bruno Frazatto etc. Whether we have trained together, competed together, or just talked BJJ, I still value all of the friendships and bonds I have made. I owe everyone a huge thank you. I’m so excited to see what 2015 has to bring and have some big goals as far as competing goes. In a couple weeks I’ll be ending this year with a “Train-cation.” I made that word up, but I will be traveling across the US to spend 8 days in California with my best friend training.
I hope some, if not all of you can relate to how BJJ changes lives. Everyone should really value their time on the mats. Take some time and reflect on what this sport has done for you. Why do you continue to do it every single day? Be grateful every day that you can train because there are some people that do not get the opportunities we do. Take a moment to thank your coach and your teammates because without them, you cannot train. Most importantly, keep continuing your training no matter what. We all face obstacles and challenges but persevering is our best bet. Oss.