BJJ: A Physical and Mental Workout

I have been doing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for nearly a whole year now and I obtained my second stripe on my white belt last Friday; I was extremely happy that I managed to get it as well, but I know there is a long way to go. I want BJJ to continue to be a part of my life for a long time to come. It has been extremely beneficial for me both physically and mentally, plus my training partners are some of the nicest people I have ever met; the ego is checked out at the door at where I train.

When I wanted to start training BJJ there were plenty of people from family and friends who asked me “why do you want to do it?“. As a UFC fan I really appreciated the ground and submission game at play and listening to the Joe Rogan Experience podcast with the likes of Joe and Eddie talk about BJJ, how it changed and made their lives better; I thought why not give it a shot and what do I have to lose. While I was in high school I was fairly active so I was keeping fit, but as soon as I started university and began working full time, my physical activity essentially became non-existent. The only real exercise I ever did before starting BJJ was walking to and from work.

Starting BJJ was an eye opening experience. I knew I was out of shape, but I didn’t know I was that out of shape. My cardio was really bad. I had problems lasting more than a couple consecutive 5 minutes rolls at a time. So from the get go I knew BJJ was going to help get my cardio to where it should ideally be for someone my age. My cardio has gotten significantly better but personally it is not where I want it to be. I don’t gas as early but I still gas before the end of my session, something that I personally want to change in the coming year.

Learning all the various positions, submissions, etc. is extremely satisfying. Knowing that if I get into a street fight and it goes to the ground I can defend myself if they have a jacket (Gi) or they just have a shirt on (no Gi). I don’t need to physically hurt them either which is a bonus, I can painlessly subdue them while making sure I am safe. I don’t plan on getting into any fights anytime soon but if something does happen or I need to help someone, I am at least more prepared than before.

One thing that I really did not know was how much of a mental game BJJ is. Joe Rogan and others I kept hearing say that BJJ is like a physical chess match where you have to be multiple moves ahead of your opponent to beat them. I can for a fact verify this. If you clock off mentally for a split second there goes your full mount or your closed guard; you could even fall into someone’s triangle choke. You have to be on the ball and always thinking about your next move. I love this about BJJ. I have submitted people who are physically larger than me but I have also been submitted by people who are physically smaller than me. It really does feel like a physical chess match. At no point can you not be prepared.

Some days I feel really good because I didn’t get submitted or performed successfully a submission on someone, but other days I feel really bad. I either got submitted a crazy amount or I just did not have a good session. What I learn from this is that I need to continue to improve; I never take it too personally. I don’t dwell on the success or the failures for very long because I found that in BJJ your performance can change from roll to roll and session to session. Never take anything for granted because it can be taken from you so quickly. Your ego should never get the better of you and you should never feel bad when you get rolled by someone else.

Overall I feel that BJJ has made a positive impact on my life. Physically I have never felt better. Being a very competitive person it allows me to vent and release my competitive nature, otherwise I would have to do it while playing video games. Mentally it has allowed me to be both humbled when getting destroyed by people physically smaller than me and it has shown me that I have so much to learn (something that I really love doing). With every roll and session I learn new and little improvements that get added to your list of moves and positions.

After every BJJ session I come home physically exhausted and mentally drained, and I love every part of it.

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