Why Jiu Jitsu for Me?

What do I appreciate about Jiu Jitsu and why am I putting so much time to it?

Sadh Guru tells a quick story that I love about an old man who’s an experienced ice fisherman. Ice fishing takes patience and one day he is fishing patiently all day and when the day is ending he hasn’t caught any fish. A young guy comes wandering over dressed like a hooligan, listening to heavy metal music and he sets up to fish. The old man laughs to himself because it’s the end of the day, this young guy obviously has no experience and there apparently aren’t any fish. The young guy catches a fish within 5 minutes. The old man thinks this is beginners luck. The young guy catches another fish and now the old man is starting to wonder what’s going on. The young hooligan catches another fish and the old man decides to walk over to him. He asks the young guy what’s going? How is he doing this? The young guy looks at him and says “ommmanom…anom…nom…monnamnom.” The old guy says, “what!?” The young guy again says, “ommmanom…anom…nom…monnamnom.” Again, the old man is frustrated and he says, “what the hell are you saying!?” The young guy takes the old mans wrist and spits a blob of tangled worms into his hand and says, “I’ve been keeping my bait warm.”

This story reminds me of jiu jitsu because it puts a spotlight on objectivity. It doesn’t matter where you’re from, your culture, your personality, past trauma, your family name, wealth, what school you went to, when you’re on the mat you can exercise everything you’ve developed in terms of skills, knowledge, determination and spirit, and find out exactly how well that all comes together to keep you alive.

And you get to test it everyday.

But how is this different to other sports? The difference is you’re testing yourself in a situation of life and death. Sparring in jiu jitsu is literally doing the things you would do in a real self-defense situation that may result in serious bodily harm or death to you or someone you care about. The only thing that holds jiu jitsu back from 100% reality is the tap, which is submitting to your opponent in the agreed manner so the fights ends. This really is an expression to your opponent of “you killed me, I’m completely at your mercy”, and you give this submission regardless of everything you think you are as a person, how strong or fit you think you are, how brave or macho you thought you were, and conversely how weak or incapable you thought your opponent was. Yes, MMA takes this a step further to include striking but jiu jitsu gives you a situation with reduced risk of injury, and something that everyday people can practice more as a game without actually copping the pain and damage of strikes. In jiu jitsu training you can take 100% to a roll with your partner, with the aim of, at the same time, doing everything in your power not to hurt your opponent.

Jiu jitsu is, sadly a break from a lot of the ego-driven bullshit we deal with in everyday lives. The politics at work, the social pressure from our friends and family, exploitation. And when I am talking about jiu jitsu in this case I’m not talking about the club you’re at, the friends you have, the social aspects or anything like that because all of those things can be subjective and corrupted. I’m talking about the minutes you spend between the starting bell and the finishing bell. Jiu Jitsu was developed to serve that time. (or in the case of a real fight, as long as it takes)

There’s no room for ego there. In fact, when your ego comes into play in a roll your jiu jitsu suffers because usually you’ll try too hard and over-exert yourself and then run out of gas, or you’ll momentarily refuse to accept that your partner has you in a submission, try to push beyond the time you should have tapped and the likely outcome is injury.

You’re a lucky anomaly if you don’t have a story from a workplace where you or someone else was passed up for promotion or pay rise or any other improvement on their circumstances, when it was in-fact completely deserved. While on the other hand you’ve witnessed someone with half of the capability or suitability be promoted or advanced in some way because of subjective elements like ass-kissing or just agreeing with the boss in spite of reality or something like that. Both situations are catastrophic because they don’t align with reality and so they destroy self-esteem, cause people to learn bad habits, dishonesty, and generally have a skewed view of themselves. This in itself is the trigger for a lot of serious mental health issues, and I would say a lot of systemic flaws in our culture.

I find that jiu jitsu can be a great remedy for this type of common scenario because if you’re willing to receive reality your sparring will reliably show exactly the fruits of your labour. It’s somewhere that you can see your mindfulness, dedication and work-ethic turn into reward in the form of progress in the short and long terms. There really aren’t any tricks or shortcuts. Ask any experienced jiu jitsu practitioner what is key to developing your jiu jitsu and they invariably say, “time on the mat”. There’s no way around it. And people increasingly beat their opponents because of it.

If you’re anything like me and you’re fuckin allergic to anything that is kept from lining up properly as a result of the self-serving nature of people – jiu jitsu is for you.

That’s a very broad summary of what jiu jitsu means to me. In another post soon I’ll tell some of my own story and what jiu jitsu has brought to me so far in my limited experience.

Thankyou all for jiu jitsu and I look forward to seeing you back in Grapplers House.

Check out women's Gi and Nogi Brazilian Jiu Jitsu here.

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