Octavio: “Very good Michelle. Good patience.”
Patient has NEVER been a word that I would actively use to describe myself. But Jiu Jitsu has changed me.
If you know me, you know that I am obsessed with Jiu Jitsu. Even as just a lowly little blue belt, it consumes most of my attention. I know that I am no different than the other Jiu Jitsu practitioners out there who feel the same. (And I am glad because I don’t feel as crazy.) I delight in blogs like JiuJitsusavedmylife.org and the AMPLE amount of fan pages and hashtags that go along with being forever changed by Jiu Jitsu.
With my two year BJJ anniversary just under my belt, I have been deep in the feels about how different of a person I am since I have started doing Jiu Jitsu. I love it for so many reasons. It’s complex. It’s like a puzzle or a chess game. It’s one wrong hand or foot placement and you’re going down. It’s learning the hard way and becoming a better person because of it. It’s patience and discipline and finally having that breakthrough. It’s stripping away your pride so that you can truly learn and grow. It is where you learn to give up things that aren’t worth ruining what you work really hard for. Stepping on the mat is all consuming. And it has to be. It is where you learn to drown out the world and focus solely on what is right in front of you (or behind, to the side, or on top of you.) If you lose focus during a roll, you get caught.
Doesn’t what I just said sound a lot like life? I am sure my fellow addicts can relate.
Before I started Jiu Jitsu, I was high strung and impatient. But more than that, I was hell bent on impressing everyone. I wrote on my Instagram the other day why BJJ changed me.
Here’s the post.
“Today is my two year Jiu Jitsu anniversary! Yes, I celebrate this day because it signifies an important day in my life!
It’s the day I found my true passion. The day I let go of the things I thought I “had” to do and started doing this one thing for myself. And because I do this for myself, it’s something that nobody can ever take away from me, that I’m constantly driven to do! A bad day at the gym never discourages me. It only makes me more motivated.
Now that’s how you know you are truly doing something you love!”
Before I was a BJJ athlete, I was a figure athlete. I got into bodybuilding because someone said to me one day “Hey, you’re in great shape. You should compete. It would help get you more clients too.”
And for the years following, that statement was burned into my brain. I thought I HAD to compete for anyone to take me seriously as a trainer. I thought I had to be the most intense, most driven and have the best body to get anyone to listen to me. But my heart was never in it. I was totally faking it. I fake loved bodybuilding. Have you ever fake loved anything? It is hard to pretend to love something for a very long time.
But at the point I was at, that was what I was known for. Not that I was even good at it. But hell, I was known as a competitor.
But everything changed. One night I went to a fight with my then boyfriend to support his teammates. That night I saw four women fight. I distinctly remember that moment. I was getting ready for a national bodybuilding show at the time. In the midst of the hunger, fatigue, and general hatred of my own body, I was inspired. Sure, I had watched my (then) boyfriend fight before but it wasn’t until I saw these girls giving it everything they had in that cage that I knew I wanted to do the same.
Shortly after, chaos ensued as I revealed that I wanted to fight and no longer wanted to compete in figure. People were disappointed. I got judged. Broken up with. I was even told I was too weak to compete. The person who told me that obviously had never done MMA or BJJ before.
But through all of that, I still followed through and went to my first Jiu Jitsu class. I let go of all of that negativity. I let go. I did it. Me! This high strung, obsessive girl let go of all the BS. I did this thing for myself even though I was being mocked all along the way. But from my first class I was hooked. I was obsessed with the complexity of Jiu Jitsu.
Before BJJ, what people thought of me ruled my mind. It was the thing that was all consuming. There were days that I literally hated myself. I wasn’t lean enough. Or strong enough. Or fast enough. I didn’t know enough. I was never enough.
But finding BJJ helped me focus. It helped me drown out the negativity and focus on this awesome thing that was right in front me. That mindset. The Jiu Jitsu mindset then transferred into all aspects of my life. I stopped caring that I gained 10 lbs because I had to eat carbs to survive 2-3 hours on the mats. I stopped caring about what others thought of me. Whether they thought I didn’t belong there or thought I was just dumb for letting go of bodybuilding. I did not care. Because I knew that this new thing that I barely even knew about was IT. I didn’t fake love this. I LOVE loved this. I then let go of all the things that did not serve me. I ate food to fuel my body. Not to be lean. I took supplements to help with recovery. Not to help me get even leaner. I did CrossFit to help me stay strong and fast on the mats.
Fast forward two years and I still don’t care that I gained that 10 lbs. I still know that Jiu Jitsu is IT. I still eat and train to perform. And all of the Jiu Jitsu principles have made me a better person. I am still a little high strung at times, but I would, for the most part, consider myself a patient person. In life and on the mats. Where I used to believe that I knew it all, when I am on the mats, I see how much I still have to learn. I let my bad days and my bad rolls fuel the fire. I am hard on myself. I am also proud of myself. Because no matter how hard of a day I have, I can always look in the mirror and I realize that I am good enough.
I am enough. Jiu Jitsu Saved My Life.