Welcome to the first post of our monthly ‘Elements Spotlight’ series. This month we focus on Jiu-Jitsu. Check back every week for new posts and a weekly opportunity to enter this month’s draw. Comment on our post and then re-post to your Facebook page for your chance to win a self-defence workshop for you and up to 9 friends. Use it for yourself or re-gift it.
1. I became a more confident and self-empowered woman, and I believe you will too.
Jiu-Jitsu is probably the only martial art (and I’ve trained in various styles for over 20 years) that has tested and humbled me through personal reflection and the desire to be a better person. After Jiu-Jitsu class you often go home and contemplate what you’re really made of because you’ve been tested – often you lose, sometimes you win, but every time you learn. It takes a certain type of courage and bravery that very few will subject themselves to in order to be trapped, confined, and overpowered over and over again. However, once you start to figure out how to survive against others and learn how to escape from bad positions and situations, you turn into a really tough character. That is real power.
2. I really began to love training – like really LOVE it.
All of the other styles I had done up until 5 ½ years ago were striking arts. I still continue to train and compete in Muay Thai and Boxing but there is a love/hate relationship with that. You get hit, you get hurt, you make mistakes, and everything happens so fast. Don’t get me wrong, I love the workout that an awesome kickboxing or boxing session gives plus who doesn’t like to kick or punch something?
However, I developed a love and an appreciation for the art of Jiu-Jitsu because there is SO MUCH TO LEARN. Even when you start to get better after your first year of training, you still have this understanding that there is so much left to learn. Striking isn’t for everyone but I believe Jiu-Jitsu is because it’s meant for the smaller, weaker person to defend against the bigger, stronger opponent (attacker) and overcome them using technique and leverage.
3. I now know the difference between Self-Defence and Sport Jiu-Jitsu and they are completely different.
Most BJJ schools focus on the Sport aspect of Jiu-Jitsu and are training for competitions with weight classes, belt levels, and timed rounds. There is no striking allowed and the rules for submissions are stringent. This is not Self-Defense and will not prepare you for the street, although many Sport Jiu-Jitsu fighters believe they can defend themselves because they know Jiu-Jitsu. Yes, they are better skilled than the average civilian but my belief is that what you practice is what you know and if you don’t train for a changing set of street circumstances, you won’t be prepared…period.
The Gracie family adapted their style so that the average person could defend themselves in a street altercation or real fight with no rules. Gracie Jiu-Jitsu is meant for everyone, not just the elite athlete or competitor. The philosophy is based on using tested and refined techniques to neutralize a bigger, stronger opponent: defend with distance management (far away or clinching/trapping) and defeat with effective submissions or holds. Click here to learn more about the style and history of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu.
4. I have a better read on people now, by feeling and responding to their energy.
Being close and connected to many people over the years through open sparring and rolling has allowed me to develop connections with other human beings without words. This has helped me develop a high level of sensitivity where I can feel if someone is tired, anxious, angry, upset, tense, or stressed. In fighting, this has helped me capitalize on opportunities to finish my opponents when the timing is right.
On the flip side, people who regularly train in Jiu-Jitsu tend to be able to shed these tensions and live a more positive, happy, and stress-free life. Just imagine what happens when the room is filled with that type of energy…lasting friendships are created that are deep and connected in nature.
5. I am not afraid of being hurt or attacked by a stranger.
I am prepared and I don’t go into situations that are risky or dangerous but I also feel that I’ve done as much as I can up until today to prepare myself for an unfortunate scenario. The changing nature of an attack is something you can never fully prepare for and we can’t recreate the realness or surprising nature of a violent situation. However, I’ve been tested and have put myself in bad situations with my training partners just to work on as many elements of self-defence as possible.
I can honestly say that I don’t walk around with any fear and I know that most women can’t say the same. So what are you waiting for? Train, prepare, and empower yourself with the skills necessary to save your life.
6. I have made great and trusted friends through an inclusive and supportive Jiu-Jitsu network.
I have trained in many clubs all over North America and the feeling is always a welcoming one. It is a true sister/brotherhood and there is an instant understanding and connection when you meet people who do “Jits”. I have developed deep and lasting friendships with both women and men, and I find the Jiu-Jitsu community to be very respectful and connected. I always have fun with my training partners and those relationships develop off the mats to become lasting friendships with honorable people.
7. Jiu-Jitsu is an amazing workout.
Jiu-Jitsu improves mobility, flexibility, coordination, strength, and stamina, and develops mental strategy and quickness. I know many practitioners who use Jiu-Jitsu as their sole form of exercise and I’ve seen firsthand how it can change and improve body composition. The great thing about Jiu-Jitsu is that you are so focused on learning and execution that you forget that you’re breathing hard and using your entire body as you flow and roll with your training partners.
Attaining a black belt in the art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu can take up to 20 years and I’ve seen people well into their senior years just starting off or still training at a very high level. Helio Gracie, pioneer of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, trained and taught into his 90’s. I fully intend to make this art a lifelong pursuit.