Hello brothers and sisters in the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu community!
We’re here with part eight of our series on “Ten Ways Jiu Jitsu Can Help With Stress Relief”. Today we’ll discuss the significance of “fun” as one of the single most vital aspects of your journey, why it’s necessary and how you can find it through Jiu Jitsu.
From as far back as we can remember in our adolescent years, life revolved around one thing only, having fun! As kids we are interested in anything that makes us feel good, laugh and have a good time. That is one of the best parts of instructing kids, the energy that they bring is contagious. Before class has even started they can’t help but run around with each other while playing games like tag, wrestling, joking around, acting silly, and enjoying being around their friends. As we mature and learn to take on responsibility however, life becomes a lot more serious. We have to get good grades, pass exams, make varsity, apply to colleges and so on and so forth. While this is a crucial stage of life and completely necessary for us to mature and go on to live our own lives and have families and what have you, many of us can lose sight of the importance of enjoying ourselves in a way that is wholesome and nourishing to our bodies and spirits. That means learning to have fun without having to consume unnecessary amounts of alcohol, binge-watch Netflix shows or over indulge when it comes to unhealthy foods. While those things are fine in moderation, for many people that is the only way they know how to unwind. Rather than having a habit that adds value to their life and has them coming home feeling elated, in a much better mood, they are missing out on the fun of joking around with your friends on the mat, working out, learning techniques and getting to “roll” or spar in Jiu Jitsu with your buddies or girlfriends. It’s a shame because many of us who are familiar with how much fun we had at our last Jiu Jitsu class, from CEO’s and other professional types to your family man or woman, know that it is one of the best and healthiest things for anyone to do. Besides the feeling that comes with the release of endorphins and other chemicals that come from working out, you may realize that there are other people exactly like you that you never knew about. People who enjoy exercising, learning Martial Arts, being active, having good health and in some cases spending “family time” on the mats instead of solely in front of a television or on electronic devices.
As we mature and age, there become fewer ways to play that can be beneficial to our mental and physical health. Think of the ways that adults play. We can go to Vegas for a weekend to drink, eat and gamble? Go on a vacation somewhere exotic? Play Call of Duty? Have a party at your house where you eat and drink? While these can all be fun, sometimes they are accompanied with their own stresses or leave us with a negative effect. When we are kids we can run around, jump, swim and find almost endless ways of amusing ourselves. Play is not only incredibly important for our physical and social development but it is also one of the best forms of learning and is therapeutic for the mind. Some therapists believe that it is one of the antidotes to depression and anxiety. Which makes sense, because in our youth it is almost natural for us to want to find ways to entertain ourselves, even at the cost of upsetting our parents from making too much noise, staying up past our curfew, sneaking out or breaking furniture. While there are ways of playing that contribute to our overall well-being, especially as we begin to “grow up”. Without being told, we know that there is amusement from seeing who can throw the farthest rock, race up a hill, or have a snowball fight. The beauty of an art like Jiu Jitsu, is that while it is a very effective form of self-defense allowing you to subdue opponents with pins and submission holds, it can be done very playfully with almost no damage to the other person. This allows me to train with both my parents who are seventy years of age, and spar without any harm to them or myself. Plus, as parents it is also fun to play with your kids but as those with kids know, when they grow up it is something that is often lost as their sons or daughters move on with their lives and become more serious as they begin to work, go to college, or start hanging out with their friends and having serious relationships. It is only natural, and most of the parents I know, want them to have a life of their own. It is however, worth knowing that even though I got older and created a life of my own, Jiu Jitsu has always been something that keeps me close to my family and allows us to have fun and stay connected to each other. We get to see this firsthand at the academy with families who choose to share the art with each other, play with together and have fun. On a daily basis we witness the bond that Jiu Jitsu forges between family members and relatives who get on the mats and commit to excellence together. It is undeniably one of the most constructive ways to spend time, exercising, training your brain, and learning how to defend yourself while smiling, laughing and having fun!
Can you recall when was the last time you did something because it was fun? Or hung around some really fun people? One of the reasons we stress the importance of having fun at our academy is that while achieving a BJJ black belt is something worthwhile that we want everyone to experience, the truth is that the journey is long and challenging which causes many to quit. We believe that by having fun and enjoying the process, rather than focusing on wins and losses or how you did in each training session you can accomplish much more by focusing on enjoying the good company along with the benefits that you are receiving. Over time your mind and body will become callused, the routine will become normal and you will find yourself able to continue the path to black belt. One of the secrets to our kids’ program is that they enjoy every second of it. In fact, if they misbehave, they can lose the privilege of going to Jiu Jitsu class, which in their minds is a huge bummer! Think about how powerful that is, instead of taking away their iPad, their Xbox or grounding them. They lose the privilege of going to their BJJ class. Usually, they get their act together and improve their grades or start doing a better job listening but consider how profound that is, being able to leverage a form of exercise as form of discipline for your children. This is only made possible if they are having fun and enjoying coming to training and playing with all their little buddies and friends in the class. The best part about it, is the same secret that keeps kids motivated and on the path to their greatness is the same way that we can remain inspired to find the discipline in ourselves that can lead to us creating a richer and more fulfilling life!