Thanks again for checking in and taking the time to read the blog. Firstly I’d like to apologise for missing last month. I have reasons… but no excuses!… please forgive me! So… without further a do I’d like to get straight into it. This is something that I’ve always thought of for a very long time, and now I have a chance to express my beliefs.
In the modern fitness day and age, where everyone is much more health, and image conscious, many people are flooding to the gym as their first port of call. These are often huge commercial chains, that for me, offer very little for the general public. They are often huge big spaces filled with basic weights and equipment, but not much else. How on earth is that going to get you fit? Paying your monthly membership to these will not make you fit. I know plenty of people who pay memberships and don’t even train… and I regularly see people who are training but making very little progress. Unless you fork out even more money for a PT you will not really get anywhere… unless you really know what you’re doing anyway. So bearing all this in mind I have come up with five simple truths about why investing your money in a good Jiu-Jitsu school program will be far more beneficial to you, than any gym membership. This list is by no means exhaustive, and if you get me on this I could talk about it for hours! So anyway… Let’s get started…
1). JIU JITSU ADDRESSES ALL ELEMENTS OF PHYSICAL FITNESS.
Often when people go to the gym they fail to address all the elements of fitness. Often focusing on just one or two of them. Some people go to lose weight (body composition). Some people go to get strong (muscular strength), while others just address cardio (CV endurance). In JiuJitsu ALL the 5 major elements of fitness are worked. These five are Muscular strength, Muscular endurance, Cardiovascular Endurance, Flexibility, and Body Composition… It even addresses other important issues (often overlooked) such as balance, coordination and skill. For those of you that go the gym and train… can you honestly reflect and say that you tick all these boxes??… Well Jiu Jitsu does!
2). JIU JITSU IS GOAL ORIENTATED SO BETTER RESULTS ARE ACHIEVED.
You simply cannot get anywhere in life without a plan… a goal… a direction… somewhere to head towards. When we aim for goals we push ourselves to new heights. The belt structure, and program helps instil this in the mindsets of its practitioners. Everyone is striving towards their next goal, the next grade, stripe or even just to sweep one particular person. As a species, humans are at their best when they are striving toward small; but achievable goals. This is how we evolved. It is in our DNA. In the past our challenges were, make fire, make a shelter, find food. Once we have achieved them… that’s not the end. The new challenge is to keep the fire alight… find more food. This continuous process is where humans are at their best. Jiu Jitsu offers so many opportunities for us to reach, and set new goals. The path is never ending. Even when you reach the “top” (as a black belt)… guaranteed you will have a brand new bunch of challenges and goals to chase down. Without a challenge and something to strive towards… in my opinion you have not lived a life. Facing and overcoming challenges to reach goals teaches you a lot about who you are.
3). JIU JITSU IS A GREAT SOCIAL SCENE
Humans are social creatures. We like to be around other people… especially if they are just like us. Studies have actually been conducted and it has been proven that loneliness actually contributes to death rates. It is actually linked to poor health and low life expectancy. When you go to the average gym, for the most part you don’t get past a perfunctory “hello, how are you”…. because almost everyone there is there for themselves. Short of a little bit of polite conversation the gym is essentially an individual activity. When you step on the mat at a good Jiu Jitsu school you will soon realise that the mat is filled with so many people just like you. All from different backgrounds, but all chasing the same objective, all working towards the same thing. This powerful bond is something amazing. Have you ever walked a dog and chatted to other dog owners? Or gone on a walk and talked to other walkers? Even bumped into someone who drives the same car as you and felt an affinity with them? This is because we like people who are like us. In Gracie Barra schools in particular you will notice there is a huge emphasis placed on the team mentality… to the point where the camaraderie goes as strong as that of a family. The other reasons this is so strong is because we have to trust each other implicitly that we will not hurt each other when we train. We share blood, sweat and tears together… and this is something so powerful. This reminds me of a famous quote that is often said incorrectly… in our schools the full quote definitely applies… and that is: “The blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb”. Many students carry their friendships off the mats and end up being the very best of friends outside the school too.
4). JIU JITSU IS PRACTICAL SELF DEFENCE
That’s right… Jiu Jitsu MIGHT save your life one day! You are learning self defence and a fighting art. In this modern day climate it is essential to know how to protect yourself. Having a strong understanding of the basics of self defence, and the confidence to apply the techniques in a real situation is imperative for your survival, should you find yourself in an hostile confrontation. The same could not be said for your regular gym goer… and yes… this applies to the huge muscle bound body builder type too. Big muscles does not mean you can fight. Your ability to lift very heavy weights has no bearing on your success in a fight. It is skill and “applicable’ strength that will help you… your grip strength and knowledge of chokes for instance; that can easily overcome this strength and power (in most cases at least). This reminds me of a time in my youth when I went to have a fight with a very well known local tough guy. People warned me to be careful because he was very strong!… to which my reply was… “Great! Then after I have kicked his @$$ he can come help me move my washing machine”… my perspective on this kind of thing is… what are you going to do? Bench press me to death? I really truly fear the small skinny purple belt (yes that one!)… more than the huge muscle bound gym dude. It’s not to say these big guys can’t give us hell… but eventually when they tire and their muscles fatigue… that is when it is our chance to pounce!
5). YOU WILL LEARN HOW TO LIVE A BETTER LIFE
Jiu Jitsu is a mirror to yourself. It forces you to have a long, hard honest look at yourself. Practising Jiu Jitsu will make you question yourself, and your whole life. It will highlight both your strengths and your weaknesses… it will help you understand your limitations, but also to challenge your fears and face new things with courage and a positive mindset. I believe there is no other activity quite like it for this. Certainly won’t be found on the gym floor among the dumbbell rack or resistance machines. It will provide a framework for understanding not only yourself, but life as a whole. Life is very very tough. It is hard on people. I personally believe life is a fight… it is a constant struggle. And so is Jiu Jitsu… Jiu Jitsu is a fight. It is about understanding exactly how to fight and come out on top… or at least how to survive and take lessons away for future battles. By repeatedly having lots of small “battles” on the mats this builds, courage, confidence and amazing resilience. The lessons from the mats we then carry into our lives off the mats so we can face the challenges that life throws at us each and every day. In Jiu Jitsu we seek to improve everyday, and always to be better than our last training session… and so it is in life for the Jiu Jitsu practitioner… we are constantly seeking to be better versions of ourselves. A constant journey of self improvement. Trying to be the best parent we can be, the best at our job, or what ever endeavour we turn our hands to. A philosophy is a guiding set of principles on how we choose to live our lives.. and for me there is nothing more noble, and honourable, than the path of the Jiu Jitsu warrior.
So there you have it… a small snippet of why I think your time and money are better invested in a good Jiu Jitsu School than a gym membership. Of course I am biased, but I can confidently say that Gracie Barra Schools are among the best in the world. Not all schools are the same so please take care when selecting a school. Finally… to those of you who are now considering trying a class… before you say it… JUST TAKE THE PLUNGE!! Don’t wait for the perfect time… that time is NOW. SO many times I hear people say to me: “I am going to get fit first, and then start training”…. DON’T do that. You come to class to get fit… you don’t get fit and then come. Use Jiu Jitsu to help create the best version of you. Including your health and fitness levels.
Until Next Time…
See you on the mats…