Struggle, Pain, and Jiu Jitsu OR Why You Might Be Missing Something in Your Life

There’s something fun about fighting everyday. It makes me feel alive. Everyone should learn how to fight. Preferably in a controlled, safe, and friendly environment (although not everyone can). To learn a martial art. If you have a friend who does jiu jitsu, they probably wouldn’t shut up about it when they first started. Telling you “You have got to try this!”

There is a meme that refers to white belts getting really excited the first few weeks and months. Spazzy and high energy to the point of injury. Yes that happens and yes I’ve done it. Maybe there was something missing in our lives that the weekly grind of someone trying to choke us and break our limbs is giving us. Let’s dig a little deeper on that, have some fun with that idea of us missing something in our lives that struggling in BJJ (or any martial art) can give us.

Fighting and Flying

When you fight (called ‘sparring’ in jiu jitsu) your body and mind go into Fight or Flight mode. Your body and brain thinks you’re going to die. In a street fight that may actually happen. But in a controlled, safe environment like a bjj gym, your body and mind can’t tell the difference in the moment. They think you’re going to be killed by an attacker. Your body and mind are flooded with chemicals like adrenaline and cortisol. Your pupils dilate. You sweat. Your breathing quickens. Your heart races. Everything about you is telling you to “Get out of there!”

When you start jiu jitsu, one of the first aspects about defence is controlling your breath. If you can slow your breathing down and control your breath when someone has full mount on you or has taken your back and is about to tighten a rear naked choke, your mind can plan your escape. If you’re a higher belt, this reaction becomes immediate (I’m guessing as I’m only a white belt at the moment). Second nature. They’ve been put in this situation so many times their body and mind are used to it. They know how to take care of themselves. Their Fight or Flight mode is tempered, or at the very least, managed to the point that it doesn’t negatively effect their BJJ techniques.

Something is Missing

Fighting and sparring every week is a struggle. Add in the fact that you have three different jobs, dogs to take care of, a relationships to maintain, a car that needs repairing, bills coming due, a family member is sick, etc. Why on earth would you also put your body and mind through jiu jitsu? Because we need struggle in order to know what is important to us. We need the right kind of pain that’s worth enduring. Struggle and pain makes us who we are. Don’t wish to not ever feel pain. Wish to have the right kind of pain.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu inflicts a specific kind of pain. There is the physical toll your body takes from sparring every week. There is the mental weight our mind endures by constantly getting submitted or feeling like you’re not getting any better at the martial art. And there is the spiritual beating we undergo as we wonder why we’re even here in the first place, if we are worth it, and if we made the right decision to but our mind and body through this weekly conflict.

But this type of struggle is exactly what we need. Struggling in BJJ puts life’s other struggles into perspective. If you can endure someone trying to choke you everyday, you can endure those silly problems that come up at work or at home. Maybe what you’re missing is the physical, metal, and spiritual struggle that BJJ can provide.

Struggling in BJJ shows us the right kind of pain we need to endure. Pain is life. Figure out what is worth struggling for. Try jiu jitsu.

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