Elisabeth Clay: 10 Reasons Why I love Jiu Jitsu!

There are so many reasons to love Jiu Jitsu:

#1: There’s Always a Challenge Before You

Jiu jitsu is a sport where you are always learning from the day you begin until death. It’s an evolving sport. Unlike most martial arts where there are specific rights and wrongs, Jiu Jitsu has what seems like limitless tweaks, turns and nuances, which is part of the reason the rule set is so difficult; it always changes, but this allows for those who love to learn and explore the have the opportunity to do so. Some of my favorite times in BJJ have been sitting down with a group and finding out what works in different ways. I may pick one way while my teammates will pick others.  Sometimes this is because we have different body types or levels of strength or flexibility or any number of reasons. BJJ is always changing and I love the challenge of learning and exploring.

#2 Strenuous Exercise Produces Endorphins

The harder we work and put stress on our bodies, the more endorphins or “happy chemicals” our bodies produce. For someone who fights depression, this is a huge buoy for my soul. I guess you could say Jiu Jitsu is my anti-depressant, and the only side effects are occasional injuries. I would say that is a win/win!

#3 Great Workout = Good Looks

Of course, exercise is good for our hearts and lungs, but it also keeps us looking great! And who doesn’t want to look great? BJJ allows us to build muscle tone and the confidence to put on that dress, leggings or whatever before we go out, even if it is just to the BJJ mats or a fight. BJJ keep us looking and feeling good.

#4 It Breeds a Certain Type of Person, Particularly the Hardcore Enthusiast

Very few people understand the drives to choke and arm bar someone and to have all of that done to you. There are times you walk out of a competition class hurting so bad that you’re damn near crying. Every muscle in your body aches, you have bruises and even your lungs burn at times from the intensity. Yet you feel exhilarated and proud. You have surpassed your personal limit you thought you were capable of, and every night you try to beat that limit. It’s not about beating your opponent, it is about beating yourself. One night your focus may be endurance. Another night it may be about getting out of something, takedowns or whatever you need to focus on at that particular moment. But the willingness and even eagerness to do that takes a certain mindset that few have or even want to have.  This is where I thrive. Maybe I am a bit crazy, but that is ok by me, lol.

#5 It Helps You Handle Life’s Challenges

There are so many things in life that you cannot control. BJJ is like that too! You cannot control your partner. You cannot just decide something freely because for each action a counter action takes place. Each partner or opponent brings something different to the mat.  You always try to play your game your way and be yourself, but as you are exposed to different things you evolve and begin to think outside your own box. I learn about myself and how I respond to different situations. It gives me the opportunity to always stretch and become more. At one point I was taught that you only do things a certain way, but that is wrong. There are accepted and common ways to respond to certain movements, this is not absolute though.  There are many ways to respond to many actions in order to get the outcome you want. This concept translates to life. To quote and expression, “there are many ways to skin a cat!”

#6 It Teaches You How to Be mentally Calm in Stressful Situations

When you are in the midst of being choked, remaining calm helps you think of all of the ways out. At the ADCC trials one of the girls had a tight choke on me and I thought of tapping. Instead I remained calmed and thought, I have not trained all this time, dieted, lifted weights and cut weight just to quit. Not sure how I got out even today, but I know that making the decision to remain alm made all the difference.

I once took a concealed handgun course and the part I did the best at was a scenario where a mock bear is chasing and you have to shoot it. I hit that moving bear target 3 times in the nose and eye because I remained calm despite being stressed. I attribute that to my BJJ training. I believe this to be a very functional skill to have in life. We really need to be at our best will during the worst scenarios.

#7 It Builds Great Emotional Confidence

The act of pushing yourself beyond your mental, physical and emotional limits, or what you think them to be, is great for confidence building. I have found I am capable of so much more than I thought, especially knowing that I have such a supportive team and family behind me. I got your back are not just words, it is real set of actions. If you expect more of yourself, you will be surprised what you can achieve. Love yourself even when you fail because failure is a part of success. Remember that it is not how many times you fail that make of who you are, but that you were able to get up one more time.

#8 It Teaches You Accept and Even Love Those You Would Not in the Regular World

We do not get to choose who comes in and trains with us. However, what we do get to choose is how we respond to and partner with them. Sometimes we may choose not to partner with someone based on what we are training for, but we can still be supportive and helpful. We are all apart of each other’s journey through Jiu Jitsu. This tolerance and even love helps us become better people, I know it has for me.

#9 It Helps You Really Make Gains

We may each have a regular training partner or several partners but when it comes to rolling, the more partners we can roll with the better our game becomes. Each person thinks  and rolls differently, and that helps us think outside of our normal box. This diversity helps bring an array of responses to our palette. Additionally, when we share what we know our compadres, and us as a group, learn more. Lastly, even if we are sharing with someone we do not expect anything in return from, we solidify our own knowledge by teaching. I know I have learned so much by teaching kids’ classes. The repetition is great for my own growth.

#10 Loyalty: Family on and Off the Mats

We love the people we sweat, strain and go through adversity with. It makes us tight-knit family. I love those I train with and I am happy to be there for them on and off the mats. I truly love having people who understand and get me and vice-versa!

Keep on becoming your lion or lioness! Train with confidence!

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