Pura Vida. Pura Vida Jiu Jitsu.


Pura Vida. Pura Vida Jiu Jitsu.

(Pure Life. Pure Life Jiu Jitsu)

By: Emily Kwok

I recently came back from a glorious vacation in Costa Rica with my family. For a week we lived on the edge of where the jungle meets the ocean; where the guttural sounds of howler monkeys in the trees and the chirps and caws of various winged creatures perched on the branches of peyote, frangipani and mango trees rustled us from sleep at daybreak. I was effortlessly up at 5:30am each morning before my children were awake and I would quietly slip on my bathing suit, grab my surfboard and walk down to the beach to ride waves as the sun came up.

I’m an absolute beginner surfer. I’m delighted if I can pop up decently in white water and stay up on my board for more than 3 seconds. The ambition each morning was the same; walk out to waist high water, lay on the board, practice padding, turning and popping up. Look up, don’t grab the rails, weight down in the back, find my sweet spot so I wasn’t slowing myself down or too top heavy.

After a 1-2 hour session of surfing I would walk back to the house, be greeted by my little gremlins and my husband. We would make breakfast and eat together before deciding what to do that day. Our days would usually consist of a short trip into town to do a bit of grocery shopping or to pick up some item I had forgotten to pack, then head to the beach, take a yoga class, eat lunch, work, nap, swim in the pool, bathe, and sit down for a communal dinner. Everyone would fall asleep on the king size bed that overlooked the jungle around 8:30pm.

I should mention that I maintain multiple jobs so not a day goes by where I can completely unplug. Outside of not physically teaching BJJ the week I was away (much), I was still working on other projects. Nonetheless, life seemed simpler. Carefree.

Coming back home was overwhelming. The noise, the distractions, so loud – to the degree that I felt for the better part of a week like I was underwater whilst trying to get through my typical day. When I sat to contemplate what made me feel this way, I felt completely over stimulated returning to my life as I know it. Lights, people, busy, cars, 8 lane highways, tv, entitlement, garbage, mail, school, schedules, house, maintaining the house, laundry, food, not enough food, bills, taxes…UGH.

Then I longed for that quiet simple morning with my surfboard on the beach.

I began to question how much I needed in my life to live and be happy?

Do we complicate our ability to be happy by needing all theses ‘things’ ┬áin order to keep up with what we believe comfort and security mean to us?

Are so many more people unfulfilled and underprivileged in a capitalist society because they don’t have the means to make as much money to buy all the nice things they want to make them happy?

No one I met in my little jungle town seemed down and out.

At the core of my extended personal dialogue lies the thought that nothing we do in life has to be complex or saturated with fancy things in order to be wonderful. We may get caught up in the flash for a bit, but as we mature I think many people choose to value authentic experiences and moments they share with other people over the things they have.

Apply that principle to BJJ and embrace the fact that technique and training doesn’t have to be elaborate or arduous in order for it to be effective. We can often get wrapped up in what is currently trending, believing that our game isn’t sophisticated or adequate enough if it isn’t on par with what the latest and greatest athletes are doing. The reality is, BJJ has been evolving for decades and there is a plethora of efficient and effective techniques that get the job done just fine. Not so fancy. Doesn’t look impressive. But it works.

Finding beauty in the simplicity of a technique, enjoying a sweet moment of success in side control vs. hopelessly flailing around trying to attempt a rolling back take…it will all come with time, but we don’t need to tie our relevance and enjoyment of BJJ to what everyone else is doing. Do what you do for yourself. Do what you do because you can. Do it because it’s within your means.

If we lead a life/training life dependent upon what is going on around us vs what we value in front of us, we can surely set ourselves up for disappointment. If we try to uphold our personal values, our personal abilities, we may find our situation to be a little more Pura Vida.


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