By: Shane McCarthy
Those who practice Jiu Jitsu know it can be an amazing, yet frustrating martial art. The mental and physical benefits are abundant and life-changing, and the physical beatdown and total frustration of learning such a complex art often wear practitioners down.
That dynamic is something I’ve been exploring lately. We choose this art as our hobby, our lifestyle, and for a small percentage, our profession. If this is something we love doing, we should enjoy it right? We should embrace the bumps, bruises, breaks, strains, tears, beatdowns, and obstacles. It’s all part of growing in Jiu Jitsu.
I went through a rough transition coming to Princeton BJJ after leaving my old school. I felt I had to justify my rank, show that I could train hard, show our instructors I could be an amazing teammate, and show the team I was here for the long haul. I felt like every sweep was life or death, every guard pass devalued my Jiu Jitsu, every tap meant I wasn’t good enough to be on these mats, every injury was a giant setback. I was putting so much pressure on myself because Jiu Jitsu is more than a hobby for me. I want it to be my profession, and I thought that if I wanted to claim to be an authority on it, I had to be the best.
There was a ton of self-doubt during this time, a lot of questioning my “why,” a lot of me wondering what I’m doing with my life, feelings of being a fraud. I was miserable training. It affected all other aspects of my life as well. Relationships and friendships were strained.
We often hear of the “post-training euphoria” of Jiu Jitsu. When the class is over and you’re driving home, someone cuts you off and you find yourself in such a positive mental state that you laugh it off. Any other time you’d be cursing or honking the horn. The exertion of oneself allows the tension and anxiety of daily life to fade into background noise. Playing a game of life and death can make all other things seem insignificant, and you can appreciate the beauty of living in the moment once you realize that sweating the small stuff will just get soaked up by your gi.
I’ve noticed lately that if I try to tap into that euphoria while at Jiu Jitsu, it has an amazing effect. I laugh and joke more. Even during hard sparring I am grinning like an idiot because I’m loving the practice instead of the result.
Recently at the IBJJF Boston Open I won the Masters 1 Brown Belt Ultra Heavyweight division. It was my first ever IBJJF Gold Medal. Do I think that my change of mindset played a factor? Of course I do, in addition to working with an amazing team, putting the extra work in, and believing I can do it. I took this weird, wonderful hobby of mine to the highest level I could. Now I’ll ride this momentum to Master Worlds in Vegas!
Overall, if you take anything away from this rant is to enjoy the practice, enjoy your hobby, smile more, laugh more, live, laugh, love, not all who wander are lost, etc. Much Oss y’all.