Hi there friends! We’re here with part four of our series on “Ten Ways Jiu Jitsu Can Help With Stress Relief”. Today we’ll go over the importance of Community and how important it is for not only getting rid of stress but also providing support and enriching your life.
Let’s get started by looking at what defines community. According to the scientific body, community is defined as “a group of people living in a similar area who share common characteristics, it is also defined as society in the holistic sense. Another definition has more to do with the fellowship shared by a group of individuals. We agree with both explanations because as they relate to Jiu Jitsu, we are a group of people who live close together within a given radius as well as practitioners of the art who share the common goal of self-improvement among other positive traits (mental and physical health, discipline, focus, better habits, etc.).
As far as the societal role of Jiu Jitsu, this dates as far back as the late 1800’s after the end of the shogunate empire during the Meiji Restoration period in Japan. It began with a young and sickly Jigoro Kano whose parents, in an effort to give him strength and vitality, exposed him to the art of Ju Jutsu; the traditional Japanese spelling in Romaji, Japanese language with English letters – “Jiu Jitsu” was the Western impression of the words Ju Jutsu which translate to gentle art as it is often colloquially referenced nowadays. It is worth noting that during this time period Jiu Jitsu had been typically reserved for fighters, gangsters and mostly rough or aggressive types due to the fact Japan societally and culturally was moving towards industrialization as well as competing globally as a world power so as you could imagine, practicing the samurai art was frowned upon or in other words considered to be rather taboo. Despite the fact of the general view towards Jiu Jitsu (now more commonly known as BJJ) Kano fell in love with the art and dedicated himself to a life of training and learning. Due to his fascination for the gentle art, his passion did not go unnoticed which eventually led to him teaching. When asked why he was interested in studying such fighting methods so intently, his response was always that while on its surface Jiu Jitsu revealed a method of self defense mostly based on applying the use of leverage to control your opponent via pins, holds and joint locks, behind what meets the eye was a vehicle for improvement that would lead to mental, physical, spiritual and emotional development. He envisioned that a population which represented and modeled these beliefs on daily practice would lead towards and energetic society full of vigor. His concept of Jiu Jitsu and it’s societal role was based mostly around two main principles (Seriyoku zenyo which translates to “maximum efficiency and maximum effectiveness”, along with jita kyoei which meant “mutual prosperity”). Together these principles were intended to promote a culture of physically and mentally fit individuals in society with the collective mission of helping others by striving to be their best selves. At Six Blades Jiu Jitsu La Quinta we also aim to uphold the values and the mission Master Jigoro Kano laid out. It was his effort which led to the creation of Judo, Ju representing “soft and gentle way of manipulating your opponent” and Do representing “path or way of life”. The reason for this subtle change came from Master Kano’s belief that by applying the principles of Jiu Jitsu to one’s life one could experience immense personal gain in mind, body and spirit which would in turn positively impact society as a whole. This led to the implementation of Judo in schools as a form of physical education, standardized training for military and police as well as a career for the citizens of Japan. His simple mission of creating a path towards incremental progress (see kaizen) is still felt and seen to this day as the art of Judo is practiced in over one hundred and eighty countries in the world.
If you take a trip to a BJJ or Jiu Jitsu school, you will get to experience firsthand this sense of community we are talking about. You will witness people from all different countries, backgrounds, ethnicities, professions, and ages (at our academy ages as young as four years old) sharing Jiu Jitsu together for the same reasons, to get a little better every day. One of the coolest experiences to me as a young teen was the fact that I got to train with police officers, lawyers, teachers, accountants, firefighters, chefs, dentists and you name it on a daily basis. Not only were most of them pleasant and helpful to me on the mats but in my personal life as well. If you are familiar with the idea of mentorship, the right school is a community that is designed to foster growth and not just amongst the students. One of the best parts about my job is that I am blessed with the opportunity to learn from every single person in my academy in some way for the reason that each person carries with them a wealth of experience and expertise in some area or field that most of us don’t already have. One of my favorite sayings which I learned from a white belt who is now my good friend, is that “variety is the spice of life” and it couldn’t be more true. So when you join a Jiu Jitsu club, you aren’t just joining for the Jiu Jitsu techniques and the fitness aspect, those are purely the superficial aspects. The reason worth staying at an academy is the long term relationships and friendships you will develop with people who will motivate you and inspire you to be better. We have countless stories of days where are students were just plain having a rough one. Sick family member, lost a relative, work stress, depression/anxiety, relationship troubles, having to fire employees and what name you, yet they mustered the energy and will power to go to class where the kindness and positivity of the other students along with the chemical release of training made them feel like a new person. I can speak from personal experience that this is truly the case with Jiu Jitsu, you are joining a community of people who will lift you up on the days you don’t feel strong enough to keep going.
This brings us to another incredibly powerful aspect of the community which is the idea of paying it forward. Whether you came from wealth or came from nothing, Jiu Jitsu always has something to offer you. As you grow and develop by exercising the Martial Arts principles you will receive an enrichment in your life that is unparalleled and brings you to a place of contentment. From that point on, it’s worth reflecting on your journey and what it’s given you as you begin to go about paying it forward. Maybe it’s in the form of sponsoring a good person who lacks the means to train and commit to the lifestyle, or simply a kind deed to another person inside or outside the dojo. Regardless of how you choose to go about it, it’s the natural progression of things once you find yourself in a place to acknowledge what the community has done for you. Just like any self-sustaining ecosystem there is reciprocation at play. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” the Bible states, in Martial Arts we refer to this as respect. From the age of four our students learn that respect is “treating people the way you want to be treated”. When you have had people go out of their way for you, pay tournament fees for you, give you a gi, give you a place to stay and help you overcome whatever life throws at you, you will want to do the same. Not only because it’s the right thing to do but also because it feels good! Many of our instructors started out as assistants in the class which led them to the realization that when you help others, you feel great! Some develop a passion they didn’t know for teaching and go on to become instructors with the mission of sharing the many positive benefits with anyone who is willing to give it a try. This is the part of Jiu Jitsu that seldom meets the eye because from the outside you can only really see the fighting and self defense aspect. But just like an iceberg, underneath the surface there is a great deal of depth that stems from your own experiences with personal development and evolves into something that begins to positively affect everyone around you.