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A Month of Jiu Jitsu: How My Attitude and Perspective Affected the Experience

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I left the Girls in Gis NYC event inspired to continue learning Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Luckily, I came across an awesome deal on Groupon for a one-month trial at a school near my home. I rearranged my schedule to take as many classes as I could during the trial period. Four days after Girls in Gis, I stepped onto the mat at my new school.

I left the Girls in Gis NYC event inspired to continue learning Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Luckily, I came across an awesome deal on Groupon for a one-month trial at a school near my home. I rearranged my schedule to take as many classes as I could during the trial period. Four days after Girls in Gis, I stepped onto the mat at my new school.

My First Class

I started off enthusiastic. Granted, I was a little nervous being a newbie, but I felt motivated. I had to get used to the warm up drills and calisthenics. After running several laps around the room, we formed two lines. In the beginning, these drills were a little unsettling to me. I had only tried shrimping once before and I didn’t know how to do forward rolls or the other warm up movements properly. I watched and tried my best to copy those in front of me.

The instructors (and sometimes other students) assisted me. I felt bad for holding up the line. I thought I’d annoy the more advanced students because I was too slow. Maybe I was overthinking and a bit too self-critical. I wasn’t cutting myself enough slack.

I don’t consider myself out of shape, but it was a challenge trying to keep up and catch my breath. BJJ is definitely a workout. As soon as I put my Gi on I start sweating and don’t stop until I’m already in my car on the way home.

Unrealistic Expectations

After the warm ups, we’re taught techniques to practice during the class. A couple of weeks in and I wasn’t retaining what I was learning. When rolling, I couldn’t think of what to do to get out of a hold or to make my opponent submit. At times, that frustrated me. I’m usually a quick learner and even though this sport is completely new to me, I may have had unrealistic expectations. Leaving class with black and blue marks on my body didn’t faze me as much as a bruised ego.

I watched a YouTube video with Rener Gracie who said that many people quit within the first 6 months because rolling for the first time can be a discouraging and demoralizing experience. I suppose since I’m new, I shouldn’t feel bad when another student taps me out. Sometimes I feel lost or like a deer in headlights, but I have to remember that I’m still learning and it’s okay that I don’t automatically “get it.” After talking to other students who have been practicing BJJ, they reassured me that what I’m going through is normal.

Attitude and Perspective

During my eighth class, I noticed I had more energy and was a little faster during the warm up drills. I still may not know what I’m doing, but overall, I have a more positive outlook and am excited to be in class. Maybe it’s because of the people I’ve met. Or maybe it’s because I understand the many benefits of BJJ. Maybe it’s due to an internal shift. I think it’s all the above.

The academy has been great. The instructors and fellow students are supportive and encouraging. Many of the students I roll with also teach me. I have to keep in mind that my jiu jitsu journey has only just begun. If I stick to it and persevere, one day it will click. I realize my attitude and perspective affect my experience. So rather than feeling discouraged or defeated, I am grateful for this learning experience and the inner and outer strength it’s building.

WRITTEN BY

Sondi is on a journey of personal growth, development and self-care.

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