HFT / Strong on my back

12:00:00 AM

So I recently started to seriously train in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and it's official - I've fallen in love with the sport. I think it's already pretty obvious by now, but I think it's still worth saying.

That was not the plan, though. The plan was for me to learn just enough - just the most basic terms and concepts - to not sound stupid if I ever get accidentally interviewed because of my involvement in events related to the sport. The plan was for me to pick up a few skills that would help me get out of dangerous situations. The plan was for me to do just enough to get fitter (and maybe a little slimmer, haha!) before summer, a.k.a. bikini season.
Armbar attempt
But now, I train twice a week at the very least. The most I've trained is four times in one week, which is a lot especially when you consider I only have one gi that I have to wash after training even though I'm already tired. To the unaware, the gi is the traditional kimono that we wear at training; it's made of heavy cotton so it's a bit difficult to wash and it takes some time to dry.

I go home all bruised up from training, but I would show up the next evening anyway. I don't sleep in on weekends anymore in order to do drills and/or learn techniques. I think about the sport whenever I have idle time, and when I have stable internet connection, I watch instructional videos, too. I run and swim on the side to improve my cardiovascular health so I don't easily gas out when sparring. I even quit smoking!
I've been at this for a few months - that's a few months of constantly getting choked out or submitted with an armbar, losing at scrambling and doing too many push-ups because of it, getting my left and right grips and pulls mixed up. I've come to terms early on with the fact that until I get better at this, I'm going to be a ragdoll. Or a conscious dummy who can occasionally put up a fight. My progress has been slow, and I'll admit that there are still times I get butterflies in my stomach when I'm thinking about training.

In the five quiet minutes that I walk from my condo to the gym, I frequently ask myself WHY I'm still doing this. My own answers surprise me. Beyond business, beyond self-defense, beyond fitness, I choose to keep doing jiu-jitsu because of how it changes me little by little. For starters, it helps me manage my fears. Only an insane person has no fear (I'm crazy but not that crazy), so yes, I am always afraid of the possibility of getting injured. And after sustaining that rib injury in January, I also grew scared of hurting someone else. However, I refuse to let the fear keep me off the mats.
Circle of trust
Jiu-jitsu also teaches me trust. Yes, I have trust issues (major ones, at that), and I'm getting over them as I go along. At each class, I trust my instructor, who guides me through the techniques, the drills, and the journey as a whole. I trust my teammates - my fellow white belts, who also know exactly what it feels to be a training dummy (haha!), and the higher belts, who coach me during drills and when we're rolling. I'm also learning to trust myself - that I will be able to learn and execute techniques without hurting myself or my training partner.

I appreciate how this sport humbles me, how it puts me in my place. While I wouldn't go as far as to call myself exceptional, I actually did quite well in school without much effort. Yes, I showed up for class and I took notes, but I never really took my education seriously (I wish I did, though - at least in college). I breezed through a lot, and I'll admit I didn't mind having things easy. Jiu-jitsu, however, is not easy, and every sparring session rubs my own inadequacy in my face.
Sharing the mats with this legend is humbling.
Instead of walking away, however, I persist because I know that I leave the mats after each class a tiny bit better, that I suck a little less than I did last time. These are small victories, yes, but they are victories nonetheless, and I allow myself to enjoy and sometimes even celebrate them. My pace in jiu-jitsu is slow, and at times, it can be quite frustrating. Patience was never my strong suit, and the sport is helping me with that.

Working in events requires me to be on my toes all the time. On top of that, all of my preferred sports (except billiards, of course) put a premium on speed - swimming, basketball, badminton (for a while), tennis (for an even shorter while), running, and boxing. I'm not saying speed is not important in jiu-jitsu, because it is. But I need to slow down, to learn techniques bit by bit, puzzle piece by puzzle piece, before I can put everything together fast.

Jiu-jitsu is a huge part of my life now, and I intend to keep going, to "flow with the go," as Rickson (read as "Hick-son") Gracie would say. I'm grateful to the forces in play that led me here, the series of fortuitous events, the right and wrong decisions. I'm learning a lot about myself in this journey, and I know that I've changed much since I started. I like who I am now, and who I am becoming as I tread this path. I'm a much better person now than I was before I started with jiu-jitsu, I know it, and I encourage more people to give it a try.

The benefits of the sport go way beyond the mats. I'm getting over my fears and my trust issues. I'm confronted with my weaknesses and at the same time afforded to opportunity to work on them. I'm learning to slow down, to be more patient. I'm growing stronger, and that's what I'm most grateful for. After all, when you learn to be strong when you're on your back, you can get through anything. And win.


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Hello, reader! Thank you for wasting your time reading my blog. I do hope you enjoyed whatever you stumbled upon. :)