Why Jiu Jitsu? (Young at 44)

Why Jiu Jitsu? (Young at 44)

Why?

The easy answer : because I can.

If you ask 50 people the question: Why did you start training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu ? you will get 50 different answers. 

If you ask those same people the question : Is there anything that you regret about training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu? You will usually only get one or two different answers, and the most common answer ( by a long shot) is " My only regret is that I didn't start sooner" .

Don't believe me? just join any Brazilian Jiu Jitsu/ BJJ Facebook group and ask them yourself!

 

So, Why did a 42 year old veterinarian and mother with two young children decide to use her precious free time to train BJJ? That is a story that started in 1995 ( fade to flashback....) 


When I graduated High School in 1994, I was not a fighter... I was not athletic... I was just a young girl, leaving her family, to move 4 hours away and go to college. I knew no one. I was living on my own for the first time in the dorms. There were no cell phones available then... When I had to walk across campus before dawn or after dark, or when it was empty on the weekends ( others would go home to visit friends and family, but I was too far from home and didn't have a car) it was always a little scary. I was careful to stick to lighted paths, and to avoid blind corners or parking lots.... but still I thought : what would I do if someone wanted to hut me... or kidnap me... I know that if someone faster/ stronger/ larger was to approach me , there was nothing that I could do . 
Then I saw a flyer : self defense seminar . 

The answer ! I needed to learn to defend myself.

I went to the seminar hosted by a wonderful man by the name of Jim Aldridge. Jim was a blackbelt ( 3rd degree if I remember right) in Taekwondo. He also had some training in various other arts. The seminar was great! I learned that I had a lot to learn... and that the occasional weekend seminar was not going to be enough to teach me. Jim mentioned that he was learning Judo at Southern Judo and Jiu Jitsu Academy and invited all of us at the seminar to come and learn too. He even offered to carpool and give us rides. 
This was exactly what I needed : a way to study every week and learn more! 
So I took Jim up on his offer... and met an amazing group of people and a whole new world that I had never experienced before. 

So.. my reason for wanting to learn was self defense .... did Judo help me defend myself? I think that it did.

After about 3 months of study, I was walking across campus at night with my friend's boyfriend. He knew that I was committed to someone and I knew he was dating my friend, so I didn't think anything of it. Buddy system and safety in numbers. I felt safer walking with him than walking alone. 
As we walked, he kept getting closer and closer. Then he grabbed my arm... I don't know why he did it, and never will ... perhaps it was just innocent, but why did he feel that he should grab my arm as we were walking alone in the dark with no one around? faster than thought, as his hand closed on my arm, I spun my arm and guided it up his back so that he was trapped bent over in a half nelson. I immediately released him , backing away with my open hands up in a loose guard position saying " Oh My God! I am so sorry! I guess I'm a bit jumpy tonight" this allowed me to make space between us in case he intended to harm me while also allowing me to apologize and reassure him that I wasn't attacking him in case he was innocent... Either way, he was either coming on to me (not wanted) or about to assault me ( not wanted) so I really didn't feel that guilty about my actions . 
He stood up, rubbing his wrist saying something along the lines of :  well I guess no one is ever going to mess with you!

If I wasn't already hooked on Judo and self defense, that night guaranteed it. I continued to train until 1998, competing at the collegiate level under Connie Lavergn at USL and earning the rank of Sankyu as well as becoming a regional 2 USJA referee.
After all of those years, why did I quit training? LIFE . 

When I was accepted to veterinary school, there were no Judo schools near enough for me to continue training.

Fast forward to 2018..... 20 years of no training. work, life, kids.
I was out of shape, tired all of the time, stressed out. Just chasing the kids to the end of the driveway would have me winded and needing a break ! bringing out the trash was a huge chore. I had to ask for help to carry things and open things because I had no muscle. I started running. This worked for a while, but then I found myself making excuses... the kids were too young to leave alone, and no one would watch them while I went on a run. I tried bringing them with me, but they hated running and I wasn't able to get in a good workout with them. I joined the YMCA because they have a daycare... then I realized that the daycare was only available at times when I was at work and couldn't go to work out... there was no childcare available during the times that I needed. I joined other gyms.. but struggled to be able to go consistently. 
Running (when I could go) and exercising at home felt like chores. boring, repetitive, and un-stimulating. 

I needed to find a place where I could exercise and bring the kids (a little older now and able to sit quietly for a while). I dreamed of finding something that we could do together and share . 
I thought " maybe dance" but my son didn't want to . I thought " maybe soccer or another sport" neither kid wanted to... and sitting while I watched them play a sport wan't going to make me more fit. 

Then I found Jiu Jitsu.... and it was a perfect fit. 
Both of my kids enjoy it. They love learning new technique and making new friends. They can sit indoors in the air conditioning while I workout and I know that they are safe. We have something that we can share and enjoy together! 

In the first 6 months of training BJJ, I lost 25 pounds = 6 inches off of my waist!  and 6 pants sizes! I gained energy , stamina, and strength. No more having to ask for help opening jars ( jiu jitsu grips are legendary lol) No more having to wait for my husband to move something for me. I am now 44 years old and can carry things that weigh as much as I do  ! I can run farther and do more than I ever have been able to before.

But I found more than fitness... I found something that I didn't even know I was missing... my BJJ family. 
There is a camaraderie, a sense of belonging, a support group that exists within a great BJJ academy and within the larger BJJ community. I have made friends of all races, genders, occupations and backgrounds. On the mat, no one cares whether you are a mechanic, a doctor, a teacher, or a janitor. Through the catalyst of BJJ, you learn the worth of every person. You see people get to experience the joy and sense of accomplishment when they master a difficult move or overcome a challenge. overcoming challenges together as a team brings us closer together in a way that working at the same place or just living in the same neighborhood does not.
Several of my Friends have now started training BJJ too. When I ask them why the decided to join, they all say the same thing : " When I see you training, you are always smiling. It looks like you are having so much fun!" 
Because it IS FUN! 

Why did I start training ? : self defense/ fear

Why do I keep training ? Love : love for myself ( to take care of my body). Love for my children ( they will have better fitness and learn to defend themselves. seeing them have more confidence makes my heart smile). Love for my BJJ family ( seeing others grow and excel is one of the must fulfilling things in life). Love for the sport/ competition ( If you like a good adrenaline rush, competition is something you must do !)

 



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