Alright, time to look back a bit. Thanks to everyone that makes my life so rewarding. I hope I can give back even a fraction of that in the coming years.
I started training jiu jitsu (aka BJJ) two years ago, just over a year after starting judo, at the ripe old age of 26.
I actually first encountered BJJ three years ago, by doing a couple of weeks of classes, but thought that it was too expensive, and went instead for judo which was offered free at Drexel University.
Then, at the end of 2009, I decided to compete in a no-gi beginners division at Grapplers Quest. Like the typical “meathead”, I went in knowing basically nothing except a guillotine and a double leg takedown, and with that was able to win all four of my matches. How did I win? I took everyone down and held them there. Every part of my body was exhausted and sore for days. That’s how my journey began.
I would describe my approach to the sport of jiu jitsu as one similar to the way a chess player approaches the game of chess. I don’t look at it as a physical activity at all, but one that is mostly mental, requiring patience, clarity, knowledge, and a fearlessness.
I’ve gone a good way in the positive direction in these two years, both in my jiu jitsu, but also in the way I approach my work, my relationships, and my life in general. I’ve gained a more grounded perspective on all those things. It may sound a little cheesy, but I’ve gained an awareness of my body and my mind. More specifically, I’ve learned a lot about how to live a healthier life and how to face (and overcome) my fears and my ego.
I’ve had to sacrifice my social life for the most part, as well as certain other aspects of my life, to the point where quite often my days are just about work and training. But this makes me happy. I’ve never felt better, healthier, and more complete as a human being.
I wouldn’t trade this experience for the world. It has given me the chance to meet some incredibly tough and genuinely caring people.
By competing as often as my workload allows for, I continue to challenge myself physically and mentally. For those of you that compete, you know how difficult it is to go out there into the pressure, the uncertainty, the overwhelming physical challenge of it all. But it’s precisely what sharpens my mind, reminds me to appreciate every day, every breath, and every person in my fortunate little pursuit of happiness.