Jiu-Jitsu. It’s Going To Be Really F–king Hard!
So you started doing Jiu Jitsu after hearing all about it from this guy in your office who just won’t stop talking about it. This co-worker has probably been extremely committed to the grappling arts for around the eternity of 6 months or so and in the limited time they are not training they are more than willing to fill you in on the never ending benefits of wrestling around with dudes. Even though this guy was probably sent to you as a missionary straight from Brazil, here are a few things he might “forget” to tell you in his holy quest to bring you onto the mats.
It’s going to be really fucking hard. Your first year or so of grappling will most likely consist of you flailing your limbs around and getting worked by almost everyone else.
There will always be someone in class who is at least 40lbs bigger than you. You will remember when your grappling missionary told you about how in Jiu Jitsu a smaller opponent can defeat a bigger opponent. However, you haven’t been training that long and your girlfriend wants to spend time with you watching Dancing with the Stars, so right now you can only make it in 2 times a week and that hasn’t actually been enough time to learn how to turn the tides on this giant monster who you are always partnered up with. Even though this is your fifth class, you don’t really know any Jiu Jitsu.
After getting smashed by your training partner who strangely resembles Shrek you might be inclined to treat yourself to an easy round so you grab the opposite of the giant guy. In your class there is someone who is probably 20% smaller than you, they don’t appear to be anywhere close to as strong as you, maybe they are a girl who seemed more than happy to let you borrow some tape before class. You find comfort knowing that for the next 5 minutes you will be able to easily use your office worker strength dominating this petite little thing as you catch your breath and plot your revenge against the giant troll you just had to wrestle.
But once again you have made a foolish assumption. This girl has already gone though the hardships of her first year and kept coming to class. Unlike you, she told her significant other she would much rather go to class then sit around watching re-runs of Top Gear every night. She has been doing Jiu Jitsu for years now and she isn’t wearing a purple belt because it’s a cute color. She remembers her first year of getting smashed and she also remembers how you were spazzing the fuck out on her during the warm up. The next 5 minutes will grant you little time to rest as this purple belt in pink gi climbs around you like a Sherpa at the Base Camp of Everest. You will then be shown how a smaller person with skills can stomp a bigger opponent.
Aside from feeling like a punching bag during open rolls, Jiu Jitsu offers a very unique challenge. If you have never grappled before there will be movements that will seem very foreign to you that are common and required for your training. There will be terms you have never heard before; some moves and drills will be very hard to find context for. You might also realize that even though you switched to drinking Diet Pepsi instead of Mt. Dew and you have been taking the stairs instead of the elevator at work, that physically, class can be rather challenging and sometimes exhausting.
It might take your body a bit to get used to the workouts; you’re going to be sore. Maybe your elbow hurts because you just learned when you should have tapped to that arm bar. Your super soft skin might get rubbed off your shoulders or the tops of your feet. Some days it might be hard to make a fist; your fingers hurt. You haven’t ever used your abs like this before, its hurts to laugh, but that’s okay, there is nothing to laugh at right now anyway. And lets not forget how you may never be able to wear ear bud headphones ever again.
Give or take it usually requires about a year of consistent training before you get acclimated and can really start to see the bigger picture. Terms will start to make sense; you know what an underhook is now! The movements that seemed so foreign will become second nature; you might even start to help a new training partner on their first couple days. Now-a-days you will tap sooner rather than later, you might even compliment your partner on the method in which they just owned you. It still hurts to laugh some days, but now there is a little more to laugh at, even sometimes at yourself.
The more training you can fit in the better. Someone who makes it in 5 days a week is going to get a lot more exposure than someone who tries to come in once a week. Explaining to everyone in your life why you now want to dedicate a large portion of your time to wrestling around with sweaty dudes while wearing pajamas might be a little difficult. In fact you might even not know yourself why you are putting in so much time and sacrifice, and that’s okay, it will all make sense later. Lots of people didn’t know much they needed to do Jiu Jitsu until their belt changed colors a few times.
On the flip side maybe you have some serious obligations outside of the gym. Some relationships you have might require you to give them a high priority. Maybe you’re a parent, or a single parent or your taking care of your parents, maybe you’re the president of a large parent company. As much as all the Jiu Jitsu missionaries might want you to believe, grappling isn’t always the most important thing. If this applies to you do not let it deter you. Yes, 5 days a week is better than 2, but one day a month is always going to be better than none.
It can be frustrating if you cannot always dedicate a large amount of time to your craft, this makes some people quit. Coming to class and seeing everyone progress at a faster rate than you might be difficult, but its way better to get in the pool once in a while and swim with the sharks than to sit at home and wait for Shark Week. Your schedule will eventually change, you will find a way to make it in more and when that happens, you will be so stoked you came in when you did even if it wasn’t as much as you would have preferred.
Grappling possess a high-capacity magazine of challenges that can be shot at you in a variety of semi-auto, 3 round burst or fully automatic methods. Find comfort in knowing that it’s not supposed to be easy.
I got hurt. Injures suck, come to class anyway, do what you can, learn how to heal yourself.
Only enough time to come once a week? Come early, stay late.
The same guy in class has beaten me for years? He might always, he probably deserves to.
What the fuck is a berimbolo? Nobody actually knows, just say no to inverting.
I got eliminated the first round of the competition I entered. So did 50% of the people who chose to compete. Learn why you lost.
Should I wait till I am in better shape before I commit to doing Jiu Jitsu? Should you wait till you are a gourmet chef before you start cooking?
What about my ears, they look like kettle chips now? Chicks dig scars and now you finally have an excuse to buy those “Beats By Dre” headphones you always wanted.
My girlfriend/boyfriend wants me to quit, says its weird I am spending so much time at the gym rolling around with strange sweaty dudes. Yeah, its actually kinda weird, remind them how much you used to drink in your free time and how cool you are now.
Everyone is bigger and stronger than me. Someday you will make them pay.
Just like most things in life, you have to pick the raisins out of the trial mix before you can really enjoy it. The benefits far outweigh any hardships you are sure to run into along the way. Despite the popular sales slogan, Jiu Jitsu is not for everyone. It easily weeds out the ones who cannot handle the overwhelming barrage of laundry. If you cannot tell yourself and truly believe that the hair that ended up in your mouth is yours (even though you don’t have hairs that color on your body anywhere) then maybe you don’t belong on the mat. If you can’t handle missing Taco Tuesdays at the bar then you probably won’t even get that good at passing the guard.
Endure all these hardships and if you stick it out you will soon be the next Jiu Jitsu missionary, interrupting your co-workers so you can tell them you almost arm-barred a really good blue belt this weekend.
CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE and when you are in Portland, Oregon visit the folks at Eastside Grappling who penned this great article!
EASTSIDE GRAPPLING, 210 SOUTHEAST MADISON STREET, PORTLAND, OR, 97214 PHONE: 971-237-6626