How jiu jitsu changed my life

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, or BJJ for short, is a martial art that some people call “human chess” for its complexity. It’s one of the most complex martial arts and it could take years to reach the black belt even for a skilled wrestler.

I’ve never been in a real fight in my life. And so I never really learned how to properly defend myself.

That started being a problem even in my professional life. There once came a moment, where I had to make a call with a CEO of a big online project, which we had to migrate to our servers. And I realized I am too afraid, for some reason, to make the call. I procrastinated with it for about an hour, even when I knew it would take only a minute. When I finally made the call, it turned out fine. No problem. Smooth. But I knew I have to change something to be more confident next time. There was no logical reason for me to be afraid, but I still was.

Then I had some problems with my boss. Lot of the time I came up with a proper response to defend myself a few minutes after I needed to say it.

That needed to stop. I never knew that my inability to properly physically defend myself translated so much to everyday interactions.

Then, one day, a though popped into my mind: “What if I sign up for judo classes?” I had some defense training before, but it was mostly just krav maga and karate techniques, that I forgot few months after. This time I wanted to go all in.

I googled some judo videos and found this beautiful montage, that made me motivated to really get into martial arts.

I called the first judo instructor I found in my city, but he was irritated during the call and I felt he had some kind of a problem with answering my questions about the process. Not only that, but the phone call had an interference. That was enough of a sign for me to look elsewhere. I found only judo lessons starting in a few months, and I wanted to get in now. So I had to try something else.

JIU JITSU. Yes, that’s it! I’ve heard about it before. The most complex martial art on the planet. That should even stimulate my “intellectual” needs.

So I called a BJJ instructor, and he sounded all welcoming, friendly, warm and invited me to a free Sunday lesson. When I was all nervous about it, and told him I don’t have a kimono, he told me he will borrow me one of his; that all I have to do is to come and try it.

And that was it. I was sold.

The first lesson was amazing. 1 hour of techniques and 1 hour of sparring fights. I had my first hour of full blown jiu jitsu sparring. It was simply awesome. And I was so exhausted after, that I had to vomit. But it wasn’t uncomfortable. It was like a cathartic vomit. It felt great.

I started coming in more. My fingers and knuckles were all bloody, and arms hurt from the armbars, neck and throat hurt from strangling, but that didn’t stop me. I kept coming in twice a week. I felt like Tyler Durden. Finally having a real fight. I tried some weeks where I went 3 times, but those were too damaging.

It felt great to get really strangled. It felt great to fight to defend myself from it, even when the opponent had 40 KG more. I needed all of this. I became addicted to it fast.

But it took me about 15 lessons to “get comfortable” with hurting others. In the first lessons I learned how to defend myself, to not get submitted immediately and to last at least to the end of the round before I rotate to another sparring partner.

Then I finally started attacking and doing my first submissions. All I had to do is to keep in mind the basic techniques and defenses, and attack when there was a window to do so. It always comes with a thrill that I will get punished for my attack, if the opponent is more experienced then I thought. It’s all very complex and I see I am just at the beginning of it all. But it felt incredible to strangle an opponent into submission for the first time, with Ezekiel Choke.

But after mere 50 hours of Jiu Jitsu, I can tell that I gained some considerable confidence in myself. Now I almost immediately feel when someone is talking down to me, being passive aggressive or has some manipulative intentions with me, and I can defend myself and attack back.

Not only that, but my fitness level is the best I’ve ever had in my life. I always had sedentary jobs in the office and didn’t have any sports I would like. I tried some sports, but didn’t really like any. Going to the gym was just too boring and repetitive for me. I saw no meaning in it. But Jiu Jitsu? Not only is it a great cardio exercise, but it strengthens your inner Warrior archetype, reinforces your willpower and you learn how to properly defend yourself.

The complexity of it ensures that you will never run out of things to learn in this sport. And as the saying goes:

“Black belts are just white belts who didn’t quit”

Written by

INTP, Master’s degree in comp-sci, Creator, indie game developer, director, writer, photographer. I like BJJ, Jungian psychology, mythology and memes.

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