Thursday, May 22, 2008

Learning to Calm - Jiu-Jitsu

For the past three months, almost on a regular basis, I have been practicing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. It has become an outlet, a relaxer and so far, almost as humbling as baseball was. The thing about it is, it is helping me use my body and think in ways I have never really thought I could.

So far, a 2 inch circular bruise on my arm, a 4-5 inch bruise on the inside if my knee, 2 bloody lips, cracked cartilage in my ear, a ripped big toe and a 5 inch long, deep cut along the side of my neck have been the only wounds I have received, which, honestly, I think I'm pretty lucky so far. Every class I leave exhausted, drained and sore. My hands won't close fully and I pretty much always feel a little light headed. But, the best part? As I walk out the door, I always have a big smile on my face and know that I have just learned something new, bonded with a bunch of buddies and got a damn good workout. This is something I will do for a long time.

When you're on the mat rolling with someone, you immediately find that the majority of your natural learned instincts are, in fact, wrong. Strength isn't the primary factor, but neither is quickness; someone with great endurance does not automatically submit someone who might be in less cardiovascular shape. It is a combination of all tools your body comes equipped with, and if you choose to, or have trained yourself to over the years, use just one or two of these aspects, you will find yourself tapping out in no time. It's a chess game where you have to be on the defensive AND the offensive at all times, attacking weakness, adapting to attack and constantly moving to see where you or your opponent will go.

But the best thing I have found as I enter into the middle of my third month (it feels like a year now, I have learned so much) is the fact that the sport is not about what everything else in America is about. All other sports are about defeating your opponent, about hurting, demoralizing and knocking him or her out. It's always kill or be killed, cause as much damage as possible to the other guys so that you can walk away a winner. In Jiu-Jitsu though, it's different. It's about submission. It's about working with your opponent, outsmarting him or her, using his or her strengths and weaknesses against them and forcing them to give in to your superior ability. It is an amazingly respectful and humbling sport that has no room for trash talking and showboating. Toughness helps, strength helps, mobility helps, but it's not about having one or the other, it's about having it all.

I strongly recommend trying a class if you ever get a chance and if anyone is interested in joining me at my class it would be a blast. My instructor, Cesar is in the process of opening his personal website up and when it is up and running, I will have a link of it up on my site and my blog. I can't wait to get back into town next week and back into class. For now, it's Vermont and marathon number 6.

Never Stop, GET FIT

Josh Courage

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