Now that we’ve chosen where to train, what should you expect from your first few months of training? We know that its going to be hard. But to quote Fred DeVito “If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you”.
Physically its going to be demanding
You will be sore in places you didn’t know existed. Your muscles and joints may ache. You will have mysterious bruises. And be asking yourself how that happened. At first you’ll be wondering “Will all this be worth it”. What you are doing is conditioning your body. All these bumps and bruises do have a purpose and over time you will notice these less and less.
There’s going to be some frustration
At first it seems like everyone else know what they are doing. There’s so much you don’t understand. This is completely normal. The more you go to the classes you will understand that most of your classmates are still trying to work it out too. Especially if you are a white belt or even a blue belt. You are still trying to work out certain positions. Even higher belts like brown and black belts are trying to refine positions. Knowledge will come through good instruction and time on the mat. Start small on one position and try to add a little bit each day. I can remember when I was a white belt there were some techniques that made no sense to me. After class I thought it was a bit of a waste of time. The next time my instructor taught the technique, I thought “Here’s that thing again”. This time it made a little more sense though. After the third time being exposed to it, I could do the technique. Over time your understanding of what to do and how to position yourself will improve. What once seemed illogical and impossible, will become attainable.
You’re going to be uncomfortable!
You will get stuck in places under people much larger that yourself. They will feel heavy. It might be hard to breathe. But relax. Slow down and focus on your breathing. It will be OK. After all, if you get caught in a submission, tap and start again. At its core Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is about being comfortable being uncomfortable. That may sound strange, but this little idea can help you in so many ways. The primal part of your mind that wants to run away or attack recklessly. Control that panic and anxiety. This will help you can make logical informed decisions toward a positive outcome. Finding resilience to grind through uncomfortable positions, is a metaphor for life. Somehow, you will feel better and more balanced after training. Life’s worries seem less troublesome, but you need to go through some adversity. Through this adversity comes growth.
You’re going to make some great friendships!
Before you started, the academy might have seemed like it was full of fighters. But once you start, you will realise that its full of people just like you. People who have jobs and families. Who are trying to learn a martial art like yourself. What once seemed daunting and scary, you will look forward to. Through martial arts I have made many friends and acquaintances. I know I will have these friendships throughout my whole life. We’ve been through so much together. Sweated together, went through ups and downs. This comradery is one of the main reasons I love martial arts. I’m lucky to be coached by people I now consider my friends who I both respect and admire. I hope that you too will find similar friendships on the mat that last you a lifetime.
Prepare to be obsessed
Once you start training, its common that it seems to take over your life. You stay up late at night, watching video’s. You buy new Gi’s. You talk to your friends about it. Enthusiasm is great! Keep in mind that the enthusiasm that you have needs to be sustained. After all you don’t want to burn bright and then burn out. Being a martial artist is a life long pursuit. Settle in for the long haul!
You might get hurt
Nobody wants this. But its part of life in combat sports. All we can do is accept that there might be times we get injured. Sometimes two bodies in motion try and occupy the same space. Sometimes you make a mistake a move the wrong way. Sometimes the person you are wrestling moves in a manner which you didn’t expect. All these things might result in you getting hurt. But pay attention and learn the lesson. Slow down if need be. Be mindful and move smoothly with purpose. Try and protect yourself. At the end of the day everyone on the mat wants to grow. No one that I know comes in and tries to hurt people on purpose. But you could get hurt playing, touch football, soccer or even jogging. With any activity comes an element of risk. You just need to work out a way to train that reduces that risk to an acceptable amount. Again we’re in it for the long haul. The tap in one roll will quickly be forgotten in the grand scheme of things so don’t be too stubborn. Learn the lesson and move on with your body intact.
Life as a martial artist comes with many benefits. Greater self confidence. The ability to protect yourself and loved ones. Discipline, Control & Resilience to name a few. If you choose the martial arts/Jiu Jitsu lifestyle you could transform many aspects of your life. Will you have the courage to see if it’s for you?