Recently, I sat down and reflected on my Jiu-Jitsu journey so far. I started four and a half years ago. My wife and I had just moved across the country so that I could attend college. We were relatively new parents (of twins), and I was fat. Like, mega-fat. I weighed just over 300 pounds and was all fat, no muscle. The only physical thing I would do was a walk to my car.
During that time, I felt very self-conscious of how I looked, and how out of breath I would get doing simple things, so I started to look for ways to get active. My college had a huge, student-led athletic program. I took up fencing first. While fun, it wasn’t going to get me going. I heard there was a Tae Kwon Do group on campus, so I sought them out thinking it would be fun since I had done it as a child.
I was right. It was fun and I got into a somewhat better shape. What ended up directing me to Jiu-Jitsu was the sparring in TKD. My instructor would get upset every time I took someone down. Someone mentioned something about this not being MMA. I had no idea what MMA was (I guess I was weirdly sheltered).
Google led me to the original UFC bouts in which Royce Gracie took down and submitted everyone he fought. I had to start. Google then led me to a Gracie garage just a 20-minute drive away. I was hooked immediately.
Since my initial introduction to BJJ, only about half of that time has been through any affiliate or gym. Mostly, I’ve been largely in charge of my own training. However, all of my training partners and coaches have all been wonderful. I would know next to nothing without them.
During my time on the mats, I’ve lost lots of fat and put on a fair amount of muscle. I don’t get tired so easily. Most importantly, I feel good about myself. I’m a much happier, more positive person now that BJJ is in my life. It has grown to affect all aspects of my life. I think about it constantly, I put extra time into the gym to get into shape and get stronger so I can compete better.
But it isn’t over yet.
Jiu-Jitsu has shown me that I love the opportunity to improve and get better. In fact, I attended a competition training at the Indiana Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Academy today and got my ass kicked all over the mats. It was humbling. It showed me that my 4 ½ years is just a start. I’ve still got volumes of knowledge left to learn, and tons of skills to add to my game.
When we start to believe that we’ve got nothing else to learn, we start to falter. We doubt. Sometimes we find that we are lacking a challenge, so we waiver in our desire to continue pushing forward. Other times we find that we are the nail that the hammer won’t stop beating and we become disheartened.
However, if there is one thing BJJ has taught me, it’s that I don’t need to be the best all of the time. I just need to keep finding ways to improve myself.