Why do I Jiu Jitsu?
(I ask myself nightly, but recently I’ve had to answer to others who question my journey).
My answer is inconsistent & usually goes something like, “I love new challenges.” But the tone of my voice usually gives away that I am just as confused by my own choices & actions. So this forces me to reflect.
I immerse myself in everything. I don’t dabble, and I don’t get things right away (most things). I’m an over-thinker & a perfectionist. These are my personality flaws (causing me daily detours, but I digress). I don’t aim for gist learning. I want to know absolutely everything about topics that pique my interest. Some people call it obsessive. Others call it futile. I call it self-discovery, reflection & revision.
I know very well that incremental improvement is hardly recognizable. It takes years before anyone begins to understand their martial art(s). But it always feels worth it to me to learn something new, no matter how long it takes. Same was true when I started clarinet, piano, trombone & guitar; tennis, website development, statistics…I’m task-oriented and driven by a love of processes, concepts, and mastery of skills. I’m too old to care about outcomes like winning, belts or trophies. But is learning all there is to this addiction? There must be more to it. Why do I do this? Another obvious response & cliche is that I want to extend my capacity to defend myself & family. True story but that ain’t ‘it’ either. At least that’s only part of the picture (more like a picture-in-picture view) as its always in the back of my mind but there are many other tools that exist for this purpose.
Why Brazilian Jiu Jitsu? What’s so special? Perhaps it’s because I want to be more physically fit. Evidently I’m burning 680 calories every 45 mins (says MyFitnessPal, but that’s a gross overestimate). Maybe that’s it though, as BJJ lets me tap into my physical strengths & knowledge. But more often than not, BJJ exposes my physical weaknesses. I have discovered an incredible lack of kinesthetic instincts, flexibility & timing is off the mark for sure.
Maybe I am attracted to BJJ because of some kind of psychological phenomenon. After all, I am a trained educational sport & exercise psychologist (hence I should be able to figure this out). Mental toughness hasn’t always been my strong suit, but I have learned to overcome anxiety, fatigue and pain. Even when facing strong opponents, I never, ever give up while maintaining laser-like focus. But in BJJ I do feel anxious, pain & fatigue. I feel these things over and over again with Jiu Jitsu. This is new and I know very little. Indeed, I must overcome these feelings at every roll…again and again. There goes self-verification theory. Glutton for punishment maybe?
Could it be just a social learning/modeling effect? I was in a lot of fights growing up (in nearly every school I attended). This explanation seems far-fetched as I haven’t thought about these meaningless interactions in years and they didn’t cause me any serious mental scarring. Then again, maybe the observation is key, as I have I seen more than my share, including wrestling matches. Hell I even played with Muscle Men, WWF Thumb Wrestlers, and owned a Hulk Hogan blowup punching bag w/weights–although I hated televised WWF). I also watched my dad wrestle with a Green Beret who served in Nam. Maybe Im seeking some kind of decade-old cathartic release after sparring & losing badly to my roommate (former state champion wrestler). Anything is possible right?
I don’t know that I’ll ever figure this one out, so Im just going to roll with it.
Training in BJJ makes me a better person.
- BJJ teaches me my limits & scaffolds a steel wall of self-discipline to build upon. I was pretty grounded there already so that’s saying something about the power & transfer effect of BJJ.
- BJJ teaches me patience under stress. And damnit, have I got a lot to learn there.
- BJJ teaches me to match others’ energy rather than burning out or shutting off.
- BJJ teaches me creative thinking.
- BJJ brings me inner peace and a quiet mind and begs me to maintain this beyond the mat.
- BJJ forces me to train harder and better for next time.
- BJJ asks nothing of me but to respect my training partner & enjoy the process.
- BJJ instills the value of lifelong learning. For these reasons I Jiu Jitsu.
Tapping out of this, is out of the question.