Jiu Jitsu - The Great Equalizer

I have this saying:

BJJ won't help you be the athletic kid with all the muscles, it'll help you beat the athletic kid with all the muscles.

I grew up playing sports. Baseball, football, basketball, even wrestling (but only for a season). But as a kid with no natural athleticism, no speed, little strength, slow reflexes, and poor body mechanics; sports weren't much fun. There was always someone bigger, faster, stronger, better. And for someone like me, it was everyone. But I was competitive at heart, and as a young intellectual, I always thought that there had to be some kind of way to level the playing field.

I spent the majority of my childhood trying to make up for my athletic shortcomings. I trained harder than everyone else, I trained more often than everyone else, and when I wasn't training, I was studying film. I had a burning desire inside me to be the best, and I worked tirelessly to reach my goal. Sure enough, all my hard work paid off, and I found myself somewhere in the middle of the pack. Sure, I wasn't the worst player on any of my teams anymore, but my genetic potential only reached so far.

This whole experience stuck with me my entire childhood and into my adult years. At that point, I decided that combat sports would be more my speed. I tried my hand at boxing, judo, and karate, and despite all of my hard work, I mostly got nowhere. I had accepted that I would never be a world class athlete, but I never lost my competitive desire. Thankfully, one day when I was 23 years old, the gods smiled down on me and showed me another way: Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

My first experience with BJJ was the process. In no other sport or martial art that I ever tried, had I encountered this much instruction. I was elated to find out that every single body positioning, and every single body movement, down to the finest detail, was explained! In the instruction, I was taught where to position my weight, how to turn my hips, sometimes even which way to position my individual fingers, and I thought to myself "at last!" I had found a sport/martial art that I could actually do.

From my first day on, I began to study the art of jiu-jitsu day and night. I found that with a well-detailed, structured curriculum, I could study at home, and memorize all of the steps needed to develop the stances, movements, and postures needed to succeed in this sport. Soon after, I realized something; this wasn't just athletic competition, this was an intellectual endeavor. Pattern recognition, memorization, attention to detail, and my professor's ability to break down movements were the primary weapons needed to win; while strength, speed, and stamina were secondary. A sport where the studious intellectual had the advantage over the athletic phenom. A sport I could win!

From there on, I dedicated my life to martial art. I began training every day that the academy was open, and found a secondary academy to go to on days when it was closed. I fully immersed myself in the art, and finally my work ethic paying off in spades. I fell in love with BJJ, I trained more than anyone I knew, and soon enough, I was traveling the country competing, and WINNING!

With Jiu Jitsu, it didn't matter that I was slow, or asthmatic, or dyspraxic. All that mattered was that I knew my moves, I mastered the proper skill set for my body type, and I made a habit of putting stronger, more athletic competitors to shame. It wasn't speed demons with six packs that were winning these tournaments, it was technicians with good work ethics who came from good schools with good instructors.

My journey in jiu jitsu has shown me that I've found the ideal martial art, the one that works for everyone. No matter a person's age or body type, there's a style you can implement to make yourself effective. Fast, and explosive? Play an open guard game. Slow, and methodical? Get good with a clinching style? Overweight? Then half guard is probably for you. As the old saying goes, where there's a will, there's a way. If you, or your child have a desire to learn a martial art, compete at sports, or simply learn how to use their body better, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is what you need.

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