About 8 months ago I walked into a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu school intent on taking them up on their offer of one free month of classes.  For those of you who have no idea, Jiu Jitsu is vastly different from most traditional martial arts; just watch a few Youtube videos and you will see.  Most martial arts employs strikes (punches and kicks), and blocks from strikes.  Jiu Jitsu is more like wrestling.  The goal-whether for self defense or competition- is to get your opponent to the ground and control them there.  Once on the ground, the goal is to get them to give up (submit, "tap out") by either choking them or manipulating arm or leg joints in a manner that if they don't submit, they could suffer a hyper-extended or even broken bone.

     For me, this has been quite a journey.   I have gone considerably outside my comfort zone.  The fact that I even set foot in the school still amazes me.  First, I am not a confrontational person.  I would rather avoid conflict at all costs; any conflict in any way, shape, or form.  In Jiu Jitsu, you must face conflict head on, in the form of another guy trying to rip your head off your shoulders.  Also, I am not a very strong guy physically.  Jiu Jitsu was created upon the premise that it can be used by a smaller, weaker person to successfully defend against a stronger, heavier person.  However, when you are fighting (or rolling as it is referred to in Jiu Jitsu) someone who also knows jiu jitsu, strength becomes important.

     The biggest hurdle for me has been psychological.  As a young child into high school, I was teased and bullied.  A lot.  I was picked on and beat up quite a bit. Had I known jiu jitsu back then, perhaps I would not have been tormented for all those years.  Nonetheless, it is difficult for me to engage myself in physical combat with another person, because it brings back painful memories of being bullied and beat up as a kid and teenager.  My natural response to physical danger is flight, not fight.  However, for some bizarre reason, I find myself coming back to class over and over again.  I am still quite terrified of actually "rolling", preferring rather to just learn the self defense techniques and "drill" (practice the techniques on a passive partner who allows you to complete the move).

     I think this journey is helping to make me a stronger person; to help me deal with my insecurities, realize my weaknesses and my limits, as well as gain confidence, strength, and stamina, while also losing unsightly and dangerous excess belly fat.  As of now, my goal is just to hang on for one complete year, then decide if I want to truly make this a lifelong habit.  There are many times as I am driving to class that I absolutely do not want to go, and actually get angry at myself for forcing myself to go (I know I'm weird).  But in the end, it seems to be worth it.




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