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Things I Learned After 3 Years of Getting Choked Out in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

dray92331 profile image damianray ・4 min read

I suck at BJJ but got better in life.

I first stepped on the tatami three years ago.

BJJ is tough to learn and progress is usually slower than in other martial arts. Yet, three years is enough time to already have a grip on the fundamentals. By this time you should start developing your own game according to your strengths.

The twist?

The amount of training I have done in those three years equals the time some devoted guys undergo in three months. My regular schedule was a week’s presence followed by two weeks’ absence. Two weeks’ presence was followed by a month’s absence.

I missed the entire second year.

No sign of consistency.

That’s why I’m the eternal beginner. That’s why I’m worst at my gym.

Yet, BJJ influenced me enormously and profoundly. I owe a lot to the martial art.

Here is what I’ve learned.

Imagine a bigger, stronger, and technically more honed athlete sitting on your chest. They consciously apply all their weight, slowly tighten the grip around your neck, they prepare to put you out of your misery.

You can feel you are passing out. If you don’t tap, you go unconscious.

At this moment there is nothing else in the world you worry about.

The argument you had with your girlfriend about that damn hotel reservation. Your anger with yourself for not meeting your daily word goal on Medium. Even the risk of losing your job and not being able to pay the next month’s rent.

All the life drama pales in comparison with the feeling of being choked in a minute. Everything is irrelevant if you get submitted, everything is irrelevant if you die.

Your entire being is struggling for survival, for a gasp of air. Your whole universe is only about killing or dying, it is the closest thing I have experienced to a life and death struggle.

Getting constantly choked out taught me there are problems and problems. Most of the time we dwell on things that don’t matter, or things we cannot control.

I used to get nervous even about the pettiest things.

Now, I differentiate between the problems of someone trying to choke me or break my limb and the rest.

When you accumulate several losses in a row, it is easy to throw in the towel and be done with it.

You feel like a training dummy for the rest of the gym, while you add more and more scars to your ego.

It is screaming in your ear:

Quit now! Just sneak out of the door and head to the shower. You don’t have to tolerate all this embarrassment.

Heed its advice at your peril!

Because if you do, next time you suffer (both in the gym and life) you will follow the precedent you had established. You quitted before, there’s no shame in doing it one more time.

I’ve been there.

Instead of training my martial art and self-defense skills, I trained my loser muscle.

You must switch the roles and become the trusted advisor of your ego. Embrace the suck and whisper to yourself that you love the losses.

Because deep down you know every one of them counts.

Make no mistake, I love to win! But as you already hear thousands of times, a loss is the first step towards a win.

So you bite your tongue and challenge another sparring partner.

Maybe there’s no victory waiting for you, not even this time. However, a valuable lesson is hidden somewhere in the pain.

It is eagerly anticipating to be found.

I try to be like a sponge in a class. I carefully listen to the coach’s instructions and I do as he says.

But what does it matter if I accumulated only 25 % of possible training time in three years? You can be the most meticulous student, but if you study only a quarter of the time compared to others, you stand no chance.

While they continuously and gradually build up their skill pyramid, I’m forever digging my foundations.

Week of absence overshadows two weeks of hard training.

To be brutally honest, BJJ just wasn’t high enough on my priorities list. In the meantime, I went all-in with several of my projects and I have recorded substantial progress.

With my NGO I organized an international cultural and educational festival, I completed a couple of big projects in my full-time job, I finished a marathon and then ultramarathon, I also trained to be the solo dancer with my dance group when we performed in the Czech national theatre.

Most importantly, I have found the courage to put something precious to my heart, my writing, out in the open. I have embarked on a fascinating journey, which can lead me anywhere.

Wherever I put my heart and soul I have thrived.

This is tangible evidence that if you put your entire being into an endeavor, sooner or later the success will come. On the other hand, no matter how much you enjoy other things, you’ll be forever stuck if you don’t devote yourself to it.

Consistency is the mother of progress.

Originally published by Jan Vajda on Medium

Discussion (1)

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jonaramseed3 profile image
jonoramseed

always tap out quickly, safest way