So what’s the deal with Jiu-Jitsu? Part 1

I hadn't done a martial art since I was like 8 years old doing karate in the MacArthur scout hall, and let’s just say that didn’t leave me filled with inspiration to become the next Bruce Lee. So when the Jiu-Jitsu academy moved in upstairs from my Gym I wasn’t beating down the door to join up, partly because I had absolutely no idea what Jiu-Jitsu involved.

I had actually intended to create a strength and conditioning program for Jiu-Jitsu athletes to complement their skills training.

Then I came to the realization that I had no idea what the athletic requirements of jiu-jitsu actually were. So I went upstairs and had a chat to Renato (super nice guy that could choke me to death in 2 seconds) I explained what I was aiming to do and that I just wanted to observe a session to get an idea of what was required physically.

He recommended I borrow a Gi and get a feel for it myself, but I wasn’t mentally prepared for that so I just watched, and quickly realized why he wanted me to participate; you can’t see shit.

I like to think I have a pretty well-trained eye for physical movement, but for the life of me I couldn’t see what was happening, I couldn’t see where the force was being generated or transferred, or where it was being absorbed and displaced. I knew Renato was right and I was going to have to suit up and feel it out for myself if I was going to construct a decent program for these guys.

That was about 2 and a half years ago now, and I’m still rolling! How did this little experiment to learn about physical requirements turn into a part of my life?

What kept me there?

A bunch of things in hindsight (more to come on the specifics in part 2):

  1. It showed me a bunch of physical weaknesses that I didn’t even know i had, you see the problem with lifting is that you tend to get very strong in certain muscle groups and not so strong in others

  2. It showed me that physical strength isn’t very helpful against someone who is technically proficient, and in a lot of cases you just end up burning way more energy than you need to.

  3. If forced me to slow down, because I was (and still am) a beginner, I often had to stop and take stock of the situation and think about what to do next.

  4. It promotes calm during stressful situations, there are not many things that we do in daily life that will trigger a sympathetic nervous system response, or “fight or flight” reflex. Jiu-jitsu (and other martial arts) can provide a controlled dose of this stress.

I hope this has given some insight into the journey so far, keep an eye out for Part 2 for elaborations on the things I like the most about Jiu-Jitsu coming from a heavily strength-sport dominated background.

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