When you hear about the ways jiu-jitsu changes people’s lives, it makes you wonder how anyone can lead a normal life without this art.
Between the physical and mental benefits that it offers, plus the incredible friends you meet at the gym, it’s no surprise that so many of us can’t even imagine living a jiu-jitsu-free life.
But when you’re not on the mat, your BJJ addiction can manifest itself in rather . . . interesting ways.
Here are ten of them.
You’re weirdly protective of your body
Before jiu-jitsu, I didn’t like my arm to hang over the side of the bed because monsters.
Nowadays, I’m less worried about the demon under my bed dragging me down to hell and more worried about it armbarring me.
Jiu-jitsu has a way of making you particularly conscious of how your body’s position relates to other people’s bodies, which means that you might find your hands snapping up to defend your neck when your significant other tries to be the big spoon while you’re cuddling.
If you feel uncomfortable getting a foot massage because of the increased risk of ankle locks and toe holds, you’ve definitely been bitten by the BJJ bug.
You start sizing everyone up
Once upon a time, you didn’t mentally try to figure out how much someone weighed before you even knew his or her name, but those days are long gone.
Now, everyone is a potential opponent, and by the time you’ve shaken their hand, you’ve already visualized three different ways you could possibly submit them if they suddenly tried to take you down.
You forget how “normal” people interact
Did you really just try to slap-bump the guy who tried to give you a high-five? Did you really just tell your boss “oss” when she asked you to send that email? Did you REALLY just try to pass your girlfriend’s guard while getting it on?
You’d think that the time you spend on the mat wouldn’t be enough to completely rewire the social portions of your brain, but the weird looks you’ve been getting from non-jiu-jitsu people lately have been suggesting otherwise.
Your reflexes start betraying you
If your cousin tackles you in a friendly game of backyard barbeque football, he’s getting guillotined. If someone gives you a hug, they’d better be prepared to give up double underhooks.
It’s not that you’re trying to be that jerk who has to show off his jiu-jitsu at every given opportunity, your body just reacts before your mind does these days. Certain techniques have been drilled so far into your brain that the moment the opportunity presents itself, you find yourself trying to land or defend a submission before the active part of your brain can say, “What are you doing, you jabroni?”
It becomes harder to gross you out
Sweaty hugs are no longer a big deal since you spend so much of your time as a walking DNA sample for an entire gym. Your reaction to finding two curly black hairs in your mouth goes from “Ew!” to “Cool, that’s two fewer than I had yesterday.” You’ve had more balls and butts dragged across your face than you ever thought you would, but at this point, you don’t even flinch when it happens.
Your body gets pretty freaking strange
So now your favorite way of freaking out your friends or “impressing” a potential love interest is by showing them how far your ankle can twist around thanks to your leg-lock-loving teammates. You take a not-so-secret pleasure in casually showing off your protruding rib or your bulbous cauliflower ear, and if your family saw some of the physics-defying stretches and warm-up exercises you did, they’d probably deny they shared any of your genes.
You start seeing jiu-jitsu everywhere
Much like people see sheep in clouds, you start seeing submissions and positions in everyday situations.
You were never a conspiracy theorist, but suddenly, you’re seeing triangle chokes where other people are seeing illuminati symbols. You watch your spouse giving your child a piggy back ride and think of how damn easy it would be for that little four-year-old to just get those hooks in and end it all right then and there. Someone mentions how their favorite guard isn’t working today, and it’s only after you’ve recommended two open guard techniques that you realize they were talking about the guy who works as security for their apartment complex.
Just like everything looks delicious when you’re hungry, everything seems connected to jiu-jitsu when you really want to go train.
You have a hard time relating to people who don’t do jiu-jitsu
You don’t try to be that person whose life revolves around jiu-jitsu, but when you’re spending your Friday nights training instead of hitting up the bar or can only smile and nod when someone mentions how much they hate exercising, you start to realize just how much this sport impacts your social life. You’re still open to having friends who don’t train, but you have a lot more fun when you hang out with the people you’re used to rolling around with.
You’re constantly covered in bruises
Your legs look like they were beaten with a broom handle, and your arms are clearly marked by your teammates’ fingertips. You might even have to explain away the occasional black eye, and that’s not even touching on all the times your skin has gotten torn up from the mats or someone else’s gi.
You always feel great, but also always feel terrible
You’ll get out of bed feeling like the Grim Reaper himself must be near, because there’s no way someone who is not on the verge of death can possibly be so sore.
But at the same time, you’ll feel energetic, happy, and ready to kick some more butt later that day.
You’ll get random aches and pains that you’re pretty sure are not normal, but you’ll still be able to train harder than most people your age (or even most people half your age, depending on how old you are). Your state of being itself is a constant paradox, and you’re never quite sure how to respond when someone asks how you’re feeling.
You might think you’re going crazy, but don’t worry, this is all part of a new kind of normal.