Hello brothers and sisters in the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu community!
We’re back with part seven of our series on “Ten Ways Jiu Jitsu Can Help With Stress Relief”. Today we’ll discuss the importance of clarity, what it means for your everyday life and how the Jiu Jitsu journey can help you achieve it!
Imagine you are going to a very important meeting or need to make a critical decision regarding your future. You are doing your best to focus on the task at hand but at the same time cannot seem to get the heated discussion that you had with your business partner out of your head. Or maybe someone cut you off in traffic, resulting in a fender bender which made you miss an appointment that was perhaps scheduled weeks or months in advance. The fact of the matter is that these are some of the many idiosyncrasies that are a part of our daily lives. We can choose to ignore them and keep moving on or we can allow them to disrupt our day by the way of affecting our mood or state of mind. Unfortunately, as much as we would like to always be in the driver’s seat of our emotions, an unexpected inconvenience can bring us into an emotional state where we are more reactive and oftentimes distracted from the more important task at hand. It’s nothing to feel bad about, we are all human and face the same challenges and struggles in life, although, some of us are more adequately equipped to deal with those struggles than others. This is why we believe the Martial Arts lifestyle to be such an integral part of how to live, for the reason that it is built around the simple and time tested framework of striving to better oneself physically, spiritually and emotionally on a daily basis. While that may sound good in theory, it takes a great deal of consistent work over time and a Sensei or Martial Artist is no different than any other human being besides having a methodology to follow that will sharpen their habits and guide their actions. In fact, we all share many of the same daily challenges, the only real difference is that true Martial Artists are accustomed to the practice of disciplining their mind and body in order to deal with life’s problems more efficiently and effectively while following a code that promotes treating others with respect and honor. The importance of treating others with respect has to do with the overarching principle of “mutual prosperity”, which infers that we can all win and benefit the greater good by choosing a path that promotes a state of mental and physical health to live a life of vigor, wealth and generosity. Not only can this make our own lives better in terms of health, financial stability and good relationships or whatever metric you prefer, but it also results in you feeling better from knowing that you are benefiting your family and the community by doing your part to give back. Many successful people whom you have heard of are Martial Artists by principle. While they did not learn the principles through a self defense art, they were able to develop the foundation necessary for success in many aspects which led to them being compelled to give back generously after achieving their fortune or status. Like Tony Robbins for example, not only is he successful in the business world but he is constantly evolving himself and his habits, looking for any edge that might help him function better, achieve a clearer state of mind and in turn contribute charitably to others less fortunate.
While the physiological and psychological benefits of being fit or in shape are well known, there are many reasons to participate in an art that can transcend oneself beyond what meets the eye. This is possible by engaging in something that demands absolute presence from the practitioner. Jiu Jitsu often involves training alongside other partners which requires you to be focused and completely in the moment to properly execute and apply various movements and techniques in tandem. Picture yourself attempting to learn how to dance with someone else while thinking about something entirely different altogether like an upcoming exam or board certification. It wouldn’t work out quite well as you can imagine. Learning a method of self defense requires precision, timing and proper technique which keeps you from getting too caught up in your thoughts and allows you to realize a higher level of attention that you may not have been aware of. This can be highly valuable when applied to our everyday lives if you think about the level of concentration needed to operate at the highest levels of business, sports, and our personal life. I myself have always found a calmness and level of clear thinking that is unparalleled after finishing a class, especially if it involved sparring. While not everyone should be or is capable of sparring, at least not immediately (for our students it is encouraged that they complete our 16 week beginner program prior to any sparring for injury prevention purposes), the chemical benefits that take place in the brain are overwhelming and will have you addicted to this state that may result in some of your most clear thinking. It can also serve as a great and clean distraction for those who are dealing with some of life’s many hardships while being far better and more rewarding than abusing substances like drugs and alcohol. The best part about using Jiu Jitsu as a vehicle to achieve clarity is the simplicity of it. Show up consistently, strive to eat healthy while working hard as well as smart and let the journey do the rest. It’s quite simple and easy for everyone to follow! I always tell my students, if someone as ordinary as I could do it, there’s nothing stopping you besides yourself.
Exercise also plays a major role in developing a clear mind which leads to better thoughts and actions. Steve Jobs claimed that his best thinking and his best ideas originated while walking, this is also why he scheduled many of his meetings to take place on walks. Thich Nhat Thanh, the famous Vietnamese philosopher speaks of the importance of breathing and worrying solely about the “ground underneath your feet”. We all get overwhelmed by life’s stresses and worries at times so it is important to know that some things are far less important than 45 to 60 minutes of working out or getting a sweat. Training and exercise has been shown to have far more significant effects on the body than just purely physical. With just 10-15 minutes of working out you can trigger the release of chemicals in your brain such as dopamine, serotonin and endorphins which are all crucial for functioning at an optimal state and feeling good. It’s one of the reasons psychologist or psychiatrists will recommend daily activity in the form of exercise to their patients. This is not just important for your habits and mood but it can also bring you into a heightened state very much like a “runner’s high”. Furthermore, while you may already have all the information you need to tell you that training Jiu Jitsu or beginning your Martial Arts journey may result in some of your most clear thinking which can lead to a ripple effect of positivity within your life, your family’s and your community’s, the hardest part is getting started. This goes not just for you but for everyone. We were all once that shy, nervous, brand new student who had to leave their comfort zone just to walk through the doors of an academy and ask about getting started. It is important to remember that if we could do it, so can you! We are just ordinary people who took a leap of faith. So if you are interested in make a change, find a local Brazilian Jiu Jitsu gym and see what sort of programs or curriculums they offer for beginners. The fact that they do will show that they care about you and your progress rather than just feeding you to the wolves. If they are true Martial Artists, you will be showered with nothing but respect and admiration for taking such a courageous step that will positively affect you and everyone in your life. So go out there and start looking, you have everything to gain and nothing to lose!