We are already 6 days in to the new year and I have yet to see the influx of the so called new year revolutionists in the gym or dojo.
People seem to have disappeared from most of the gyms I have visited in the last 7 days! I understand that it was school holidays and families seem to have gone abroad for winter vacations. However there is no cause for those remaining in the city to withdraw from the gyms regardless of how bad the situation appears in the city.
After all the city and country will keep running only if we keep on going with our lives (rather than shutting up in our offices or homes). When we stop, the country stops and its a loss for everyone. So, why are people not motivated to be out and about and in turn be healthy?
Here are my few reasons for Jiu-Jitsu and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ):
Everyone I know particularly made a conscious effort not to make resolutions because everyone fails at keeping them for more than a week, generally speaking. However, as far as I can gather, all of you are still hoping in your deepest darkest corner of your heart to stick to a regime and get fit, get toned, get slim, get in shape, lose weight, some even want to gain weight/ bulk up, a few even want to learn a new skill and fewer still wouldn’t mind meeting new people with a similar interest in martial arts or martial art philosophy.
If you have been on the fence about taking up a new hobby or activity that gets rid of your fat, relieves stress and passes time while having fun then you need to take the plunge, do the research and find a suitable school to teach you Jiu-Jitsu. Here are some reasons why:
1. More fun than a regular gym. Most of us have been members of a regular gym and we know the routines – chest day, leg day, back day, cardio day, etc. This becomes very monotonous that can become boring almost immediately. One feels isolated and secluded to one’s own island of thoughts and maintaining motivation is a tedious chore. Even when you have a partner, most of the time you are still just going through the motions with the machines and weights for an hour or so before you go home! Jiu-Jitsu classes provide a sense of community and belonging and most of all person to person interaction so adversely missing from the modern society.
2. Great Workout/Get in Shape. After even a small class of 60 minutes you, your body and your clothes (if not your gi) are soaked in sweat from the exertion. Jiu-Jitsu works every part of your body and often times, portions and muscle groups people forget are even there. From the warm ups through circuits and callisthenics, to the continuous movement during training and the ending with cool downs will utilise every inch of your body. It is a workout even for experienced practitioners as every session brings something new. After drilling, rolling acts as cardio by significantly increasing the heart rate particularly against a resisting opponent to test your ability and skill. BJJ classes have been reported to burn between 400 and 1200 calories per class depending on size, pace and intensity.
3. Learn Something New. Its been proven that the key to maintaining happiness and keeping Alzheimers at bay longer is learning new skills and things. Upon leaving school we join the work force which often becomes monotonous and boring for most people very soon. And unlike a conventional gym or spin class Jiu-Jitsu throws something new at you every training: fundamental movements, postures, body positioning, transitions, submissions,fighting off an assailant, practical self-defence and strategy for sports. Jiu-Jitsu is constantly evolving with new techniques and the learning for the novice and master is a continually ongoing process at all levels.
4. Safer Sparring Than A Striking Martial Arts. MMA (at UFC and ONEFC), Muay Thai and Kick-Boxing look immense fun and tug at our hear strings. However as an adult, it is very difficult to go in to work with a broken limb or black eye or various visible trauma on a regular basis and explain it away. In Pakistan particularly, you get labelled as a violence loving freak and it puts your job in jeopardy. Even at home, explaining those hard injuries becomes very difficult after the first couple of injuries. With Jiu-Jitsu (specially BJJ), one can safely spar and practice techniques with real life resistance without the unnecessary risk of being punched in the face or other hard trauma. The catch being one has to find a school that focuses on safety before anything else. Additionally you learn to be safe with your own body, your partner and the surroundings by having control, being careful with submissions and tapping out when uncomfortable (before it hurts). This takes time to learn and by watching the seniors one can learn how to move the body, proper pacing and protecting oneself and the partner.
5. Meet New People. When you join the work force, particularly in Pakistan, it becomes very difficult to meet new people because of the work hours and because of the insanely lazy post work mentality. Not to mention if you get married that tends to be the end of anything and everything of your pre-marriage life. However I have seen a few couples managing to still do activities that the average person just refuses to build up the courage to do due to “what will the people say?” mentality. This means that any activity where you can meet like-minded people in the face of adverse odds, is an activity you should be doing because you need the positivity in your life to keep happy, to keep fit and to keep feeling motivated!
6. Test Your Comfort Zone. In life we often get comfortable with our routines of school, work, socialising, family time and paying bills. We settle in to the rut of comfort and stagnate for the longest of periods. Humans do not like change and find safety in comfort and predictability. However it is also a documented fact that change is good for people and it helps one develop and grow to their maximum potential. What happens when you start something new as an adult where you have to struggle initially before becoming good? You struggle! That struggle tests your comfort zone and pushes you to grow above and beyond your previous achievements. While struggle is painful, the personal growth from the humbling experiences that kills your ego as you overcome the challenge is a very rewarding and eye-opening experience that opens doors to even more opportunities that can help you reach your maximum human potential!
7. Practical Self Defence. BJJ has been marketed world wide as a one of the most effective martial arts for self-defence where the smaller, less athletic individual can defend themselves against larger and stronger assailants. While traditional martial arts will always require speed and coordination to land punches and kicks practised primarily through kata and forms, Jiu-Jitsu relies on efficient techniques that are practised in live sparring situations that are closer to simulating one-on-one situations.
8. Humility. In Jiu-Jitsu and BJJ, the smaller person often has the greater advantage over a larger stronger practitioner and/or even an assailant (up to a certain size/strength difference). This will inevitable humble larger practitioners and thereby kill their egos. Vice versa going up against a larger person and failing is a sure shot ego killer for the smaller practitioner. In both cases a humbling experience that teaches humility and respect for everyone and everything!
9. Stress Relief. We know that stress is the great crippler for most of us, and can cause from diabetes to obesity to asthma to arthritis. Stress needs to be dealt with to keep fit, keep healthy and remain happy. No matter what physical activity you do, it will almost always inevitably lead to some stress relief. None more so than in Jiu-Jitsu. The “zen” state when a practitioner is in the zone helps them forget everything else while there are biochemical changes in their body that help them de-stress and feel more satisfied and positive about life.
10. Discipline and Confidence. The combination of all the points above helps you build self-confidence and overcome self-pity. There are so many BJJ practitioners out there for whom BJJ was the catalyst for self-improvement be it weight loss, or just regaining health. Once you get a taste of the confidence and significantly improved health then it acts like a drug to maintain that prime feeling you automatically develop a discipline that keeps you in your optimum shape physically and mentally!