“HOW BRAZILIAN JIU JITSU IS SAVING MY LIFE” – By John George
(Training partner of Todd Shaffer, of WBBJJ.com)
There are two reasons why I have decided to make Jiu Jitsu a part of my life. The first reason came from a realization one night while at work. I am a police officer, and aside from myself, I have to keep co-workers and citizens safe. Not knowing how to defend yourself puts those aforementioned individuals at risk. I have been attacked on numerous occasions while on the job, and luckily I have not been injured as a result. This one night in particular, I was called to a residence to look for a wanted person. The homeowner let my partner and I into the residence, and we began to search for the wanted male. Our search took us to an upstairs bedroom and eventually to a closed closet door inside of the bedroom. I opened this closet door and there was the wanted male standing in the closet. I instructed the male to exit the closet and when he refused to do so, I extended my arm to grab him and to place him under arrest. It was at this time that the subject lunged toward me in an attempt to tackle me. The fight was on so to speak, and it ended with me on top and him under arrest.
Moments after the attack I began to relive it in my mind. I was continuously thinking about the event and wondering why it happened. Although I could not figure out why it happened, I understood something pretty clearly. I was out of shape, and I really don’t know how to “properly” protect myself from someone who knows how to fight. It was at that moment I told myself that I would take my friend up on his offer to come down to his Jiu Jitsu Academy. (The subject was considerably lighter than I was at the time and I couldn’t help but to ask myself, “What if this guy was as big as you are and knew how to fight?” and “What if this guy was as big as you are, high on PCP and knew how to fight?”)
That realization was the start of my Jiu Jitsu journey and that leads us to the second reason that I started Brazilian Jiu Jitsu; overall health. I needed to lose weight. I was nearing 280 pounds, and looked nothing like “Arnold”. I would tire easily and often, and my stomach started arching near my chest; not good. I ended up at Rozzi’s Self Defense Center (Ribeiro Jiu Jitsu) where I was met with open arms. Everyone there was accepting of the new student, and were also very helpful. I showed up for a good workout (and believe me that is what I got) but by the end of the night, I started to see the other reasons that make Jiu Jitsu sacred in my mind. I saw patience, I saw humility, and I saw perseverance. My first class had ended, and I knew that Jiu Jitsu and I were in for a long relationship. Two years later, I have lost 30 pounds and have managed to keep it off. The stress that is relieved after live sparring is unprecedented. I am stronger and more flexible than I was when I first started, and my mental health has improved as a result too. I started my journey with two set goals in mind; to be safer and to be healthier. Those goals are obtained, but not yet complete.
The more I walk this road that is Jiu Jitsu, the more other things start to become apparent. Jiu Jitsu never lies to you, and will remind you if you start to lose your humility! There are many things that I have gained from this art. Being a competitive person, I now have a sport that I can train for, and try to be successful in. In this regard I can also set my personal competition goals, the meeting of which, further fuels my desire to learn. I view landing submissions or having an advantageous position during sparring as a litmus test on how far I have traveled on this road; not as a gauge to determine how much better I am than my partner. My wanting to tell our school’s white belts, my mental and technical errors, is another fine point about this art. You want to make your new brothers and sisters more technical, and more understanding of our craft. You will also want to mentor new students by using Jiu Jitsu in life examples as well. The natural desire that comes with the learning of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, to eventually want to teach it to others, is certainly magnificent in its scope. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has granted me the opportunity to see myself, and others, grow. All of this adds to what makes BJJ, exciting and rewarding, every day of the year!
In life, you should want to display certain values. I am a father and a husband, and I want to serve both roles as virtuously as possible. Jiu Jitsu has taught me about attitude, dedication, respect, family, loyalty and honor. If those six words do not embody and validate everything that I have said within the body of this narrative, then I don’t know which words will. Those six words are the commandments that were bestowed upon me when I started to wave the Ribeiro flag. More importantly, those six words have helped me to be safer and healthier in my life. These stripes on my white belt tell me of where I have been, where I am at, and how much further I yet have to travel…
…and thus far, the journey has been glorious!
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