Jiu Jitsu Won't Save Your Life, But You Can
Make Your Life Better With BJJ
There are a million articles and memes out there with the theme of "Jiu Jitsu Saved My Life". As great as jiu jitsu is, the actual saving of your life belongs to you. Everything starts with you. You are the one that must make the necessary choices and sacrifices to meet your goals. Jiu jitsu training can be a incredible tool to help you meet those goals and give you a much needed dose of healthy perspective that can be lacking in today's world.
Once you realize that EVERYTHING is your responsibility, you can truly make your life better with BJJ. You will gain healthy perspectives on many aspects of your life, your friendships and relationships, and also just how you deal with and overcome life's challenges.
Recently author, former Navy Seal, and BJJ black belt Jocko Willink and team published a short excerpt from his highly successful Jocko Podcast which discussed the life and untimely death of Anthony Bourdain. Check out the excerpt below in which Jocko shares quotes from Bourdain's work about his dreams and desires pursuing his culinary path.
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At the end of the day, we are left with the fact that Anthony Bourdain seemed to live the life we all wish we could have. As a young man he had pursued his culinary adventures which would eventually lead to him becoming a highly successful author and television personality. He would see the world and live many of the adventures he had always sought. He would even become a student of our beloved jiu jitsu and become an avid student and even competitor.
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With all of his success, he could not escape the darkness inside and he inexplicably would take his own life, though he seemingly had everything going for him. While we will probably never fully understand why he did, we can still take Jocko's reflection and look at how jiu jitsu can truly help us in our own journey.
Despite all of our technology and creature comforts that society offers us, we must not forget that life can still be nasty, brutish and all too short. Stepping onto those jiu jitsu mats for the first time can be one of the most difficult decisions we ever make. But just that simple act of stepping outside of your comfort level can enrich your life in so many ways that you may not realize at first. Here are just a few that might get beyond the normal "jiu jitsu changed my life" cliches that get thrown around in thousands of jiu jitsu memes.
Life Can Kick My Ass
Everyone walks into their first jiu jitsu class with some semblance of an idea of how "tough" they really are, with most of them being terribly inaccurate. It doesn't take much strolling on social media to run into the millions of videos of street fight altercations to see a large percentage of untrained people have a very over-inflated view of their skills.
The first time you have someone simply mount you and you are asked to get out, should be enough to let you know that you are truly nowhere near where you need to be to be able to protect yourself even against someone who has zero knowledge. This feeling of being vulnerable is important to experience in the safety of a jiu jitsu academy, because it not only brings you down a few pegs on the toughness scale, but it also shows that you can build from there and become more skilled, proficient and ultimately more confident.
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It's healthy to know that you can get your butt handed to you in many ways. It can make you nicer to people. It can make you better at handling conflict in all areas of your life. This fact makes you realize there are many different ways to deal with stress and lashing out and challenging someone to a physical altercation might not be the best way.
Getting your butt kicked also doesn't have to come from a person. Life can present any number of challenges to us and being able to face them, work through them, and persevere is something we can all relate to. Your jiu jitsu practice can be an invaluable tool to helping you deal with the setbacks that life can present and help you build the confidence and poise to overcome them no matter what.
I'm not as physically fit as I thought
There are very few activities that can challenge you physically as much as jiu jitsu. It's as if someone put the hardest cardio workout and strength training workouts into a blender and created jiu jitsu. When you boil it down, you are spending your time implicitly trying to kill another person, while they do the same with you. You are role playing a fight to the death, with the secondary goal of trying to break their limbs.
As scary as that the sounds, the beauty of jiu jitsu is that it can be practiced perfectly safely and in a way that allows you to simulate realistic conflict and build the physical attributes that will help you in protecting yourself and becoming a more physically fit individual.
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My Jiu Jitsu Friends Are My Best Friends
When you join a jiu jitsu academy, if you have done your homework and found the right academy for you, you will join a group of like-minded individuals from all walks of life who will undoubtedly become some of your best friends for life. In my ten years of training, the people that I point to as the most influential and positive in my life are my jiu jitsu friends.
They are the ones who try to help me on the mats and life. They are the ones who pick me up when I'm down and celebrate with me when I achieve a goal. My jiu jitsu teammates and friends are the ones who are most honest to me when I need them to be. They are also the ones that are most likely to listen when I'm struggling.
Life On Auto Pilot Sucks
We all have jobs, school, or life responsibilities that we go through that we don't necessarily enjoy, that we try to get through in a distracted haze of auto pilot. We spend our time trying to distract ourselves watching others on social media seemingly living the best life, while we plod along trying to find our place in the world.
Stepping onto those mats and putting on the gi to learn jiu jitsu can break us out of this auto pilot and force us to be in the moment and experiencing struggle, frustration and ultimately triumph. Making it through class is a triumph in itself. Competing for the first time (win or lose) is a triumph. Helping a new student feel more comfortable in class is a triumph.
Every shrimp, every position, every submission is an opportunity to experience a tiny metaphor for what life is about. Every illness, injury, job change, financial struggle, etc. that we experience, but be addressed, evaluated and we must willing and able to figure out a way around and through the challenge to get to the other side. BJJ can help remind us that life isn't easy, but it is rewarding even in the smallest ways. Appreciating those little successes can go a long way to making you happier.
In the end, it is not jiu jitsu's job to save our life. It is ours. But jiu jitsu can be that tool that helps us. And as Jocko said, the goal is not to make your life a movie. It is to make it better than a movie and to do that we must embrace the struggle and challenge and learn to persevere and there aren't many activities that can help you do that like BJJ.
One of the best advocates out there in the jiu jitsu world for pushing through challenges and going outside your comfort zone is Tom DeBlass. His new BJJ series Closed Guard Domination is going to totally reinvent how you look at this classic and sometimes forgotten position. Get your copy today!