We’re back, continuing our 10 part series on “How Jiu Jitsu Can Help With Stress”. Today we’ll cover the second reason we believe the Jiu Jitsu journey can positively affect stress and that reason is accomplishment! In our humble opinion this is a big one for many reasons. One of the primary reasons is that we as humans “feel good” when we get things done. It’s in our nature to accomplish tasks and when we don’t we are left with a low feeling of self worth. This feeling can easily be overcome by developing a mindset that not only accepts challenges but actively looks for them. We’ve all seen people daringly attempt dangerous feats with incredible risk on TV, such as jump from an airplane, climb mount Everest or swim the English Channel. It’s hard not to think to yourself “Is this person crazy??”. Although we’ll never truly know the answer, since we are not clinical psychologists, one explanation of what you are seeing is found in the same reason that athletes push themselves almost to the verge of death to reach new heights! Why would they do something that causes so much physical, emotional and mental anguish?? Because the feeling that comes with overcoming challenge is that worth it! Imagine going on a hike up one of the mountains like we have here in the Coachella Valley. Upon first glance it doesn’t seem too hard but maybe half way up your legs are aching and you wish you brought more water, maybe it even starts raining but you push through and make it to the top to be rewarded with not only perfect weather conditions but a gorgeous sunset and the feeling that you overcame the urge to give up and go back to the comfort of your living room watching your hundredth episode of Criminal Minds or some other TV series… It’s no surprise that athletes risk injury and put their bodies and futures on the line because they crave that feeling of accomplishment.
Now, it’s important to know that we are NOT in any way shape or form recommending that you or anyone should attempt any of the activities, or that you need to attempt anything with a high amount of risk to achieve the feeling of accomplishment. In fact, the opposite is true! It can come as easily as waking up on time for some. Keep in mind that all the amazing feats of strength, speed, endurance and will power you have witnessed in your lifetime had to start somewhere. For a Jiu Jitsu academy you’d be surprised to know that the beginning of your journey isn’t even at “white belt”, rather your first feeling of accomplishment should be from overcoming the fear of walking into the gym doors. Yes, we said it… One of the most feared things that prevent students from ever starting Martial Arts is overcoming the intimidation factor that comes with the territory of trying something new. It’s one hundred percent nothing to be ashamed of because anyone who tells you otherwise is lying through your teeth. In fact it is completely normal. It takes tremendous courage and bravery to walk into a Jiu Jitsu studio and get started. That’s why we applaud the efforts of anyone who chose to walk in and ask for information, because we know how it feels. The reason we know that is because we are wired that way as humans. Our brain is very resistant of uncertainty and will go to great lengths to discourage you from change. Hundreds of years ago, uncertainty meant possible death. Why do you think we naturally fear the darkness as children? When we can’t see, our mind can make up such things as “the monsters under your bed” although I have still heard some noises from under mine… Kidding aside, the problem for us is that many of the best things that happen in life come from the unknown. When your parents had you, they didn’t know what to expect, having your first child is most certainly unsettling to say the least but later on can turn out to be one of life’s greatest blessings.
Another example could be the way you met your wife/husband/spouse. It took some degree of courage to walk up to them and ask them on a date. Even then, you were likely nervous meeting them for the first date. Yet if all things went well it could have turned into one of the best things you ever did and getting your black belt is no different! The good news is that there is an endless list of moments along the way that will give you a huge feeling of accomplishment beyond walking in the door for the first time, from learning how to tie a belt for yourself, getting your next belt promotion or executing your first technique properly in sparring. Good Coaches/Professors/Sensei recognize this process which is why they will go above and beyond to be kind and help students feel welcome while constantly reminding them of the reason they started. The reason for this is because they know that once you’ve committed to this lifelong journey it’s something you would never trade for all the money in the world. It’s worth noting that there are plenty of people who have everything that they could ever want but never get to experience the true feeling of accomplishment which comes from challenging yourself in all areas of your life. That’s what the path to black belt is all about and why it’s such an amazing lifestyle that many people are getting into.
Unfortunately many are eventually turned off because they are solely focused on the skill aspect which is responsible for but a fraction of the journey. A good Sensei will help you see that being the most skilled practitioner will hardly be enough to keep you motivated and on the right path. Although it may feel good to be the best person in the room, there is a limit to how much satisfaction it will give you. And failing to develop other aspects of yourself from the way you treat people to self control would be missing the entire point of Martial Arts. In fact, while many people start Jiu Jitsu because they want to learn self defense or because they watched the UFC, however that’s not the reason they stay. Remember, accomplishment throughout your Jiu Jitsu journey can come in many forms. Here’s a few:
-Taking your first class and realizing that this is what you’ve been missing
-Learning the etiquette
-Making new friends
-Learning to tie your belt
-Developing a stronger mind
-Executing your first move perfectly
-Applying a move perfectly in sparring
-Getting your first stripe or belt promotion
-Forming good habits (Nutrition, Sleep, Exercise, Avoiding junk food, Too much TV)
-Knowing that you have a team behind you
-Being a part of a family where you truly belong
-Getting in the best shape of your life
Now, it’s not to say that it’s all roses and rainbows from the moment you walk in the door. Not only is it the challenges that lead to the feeling of accomplishment that we all need as humans but there will eventually be times where we get frustrated and even discouraged. And that is completely natural! Even for the best of us it’s common to to notice our progress plateau, for example, while thinking that everyone else is progressing faster. We’ve all been there. This is why it’s important not to compare with others and remember that it is your journey and yours alone. The best things in life take time so recognize that it’s a process and if it were easy everyone would be the best version of themselves and have a Jiu Jitsu black belt. The best golfers in the world didn’t start out shooting for par, so give yourself some credit and learn to embrace the difficulty while trusting the process. In time you will morph into your best version. It’s also worth reminding yourself that not everyone even has the opportunity to even try Jiu Jitsu so if you do, take advantage of every single second. There are many who are unable to train because of price, location and many other factors so have fun while being a “sponge” and trying to absorb as many of the lessons as you can every single day. You never know what the future holds and where your Jiu Jitsu journey will take you. Some of us never thought we’d fall in love with it and have our own academy or enjoy teaching kids!