Life is filled with many unavoidable uncomfortable situations. All we can do is hope for the best and prepare for the worst. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a powerful tool that teaches us skills to prepare for the worst case possible. Often times in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu we find ourselves in the most uncomfortable situations (both physically and mentally) with no choice but to have to fight our way out. Overcoming these challenges builds both mental and physical strength that can help us when the unavoidable strikes. While teaching us valuable life lessons that help to make us better people and build character.
Sebe Michael, a brown belt under Aldo “Caveirinha” Januario, is a perfect example of someone who has been tested in her journey of mastering the art of being comfortable in uncomfortable situations. She has been studying the art for eight years. She comes from humble beginnings learning and training No-Gi in her friend’s garage with his son who was training for some local amateur MMA fights. In high school, when they just opened up wrestling to females, Sebe and her sister went out for the team but her dad found out and made sure that they didn’t join the team. Fast forward a few years later, she still had the desire for some type of grappling, so she decided to try Jiu-Jitsu and the rest is history.
Sebe is a huge advocate for women training Jiu-Jitsu. According to Sebe Jiu-Jitsu is great for self-defense, a great workout, and you meet amazing people from around the world by being a part of the Jiu-Jitsu community. She understands it can be intimidating in the beginning but once you get past that initial fear, you realize that Jiu-Jitsu is one of the best things you could have ever done for yourself. She says that even though Jiu-Jitsu can benefit everyone it does take a certain characteristic to train and live the Jiu-Jitsu lifestyle.
“It takes a certain type of characteristic to not only train Jiu-Jitsu, but to live the life style. You definitely have to be comfortable with being uncomfortable, both physically and emotionally. Jiu-Jitsu is a very honest art. It has a way of exhausting all the ego, stubbornness, and excuses. It breaks you down completely then builds you up to be a better you.”
Speaking of being uncomfortable. There is an unavoidable uncomfortable experience that every female faces regularly. Sebe says the biggest challenge that women face that men don’t is when your monthly “visitor” is in town. Sebe has often times has to skip training some nights because of menstrual migraines or cramps. She says it’s very uncomfortable to train when your body just isn’t a 100%. The best solution is to rest. She says to train hard when you can but also give yourself a break and rest when your body needs it.
“I used to force myself to train no matter what and if I missed a class I would have the biggest guilt trips. As I have gotten older, I realize that I only have one body and I really need to take care of it. Sometimes that means giving our bodies adequate rest when it needs it.”
The same applies for our male training partners when it comes to health and injuries. There is a time to push yourself and a time to rest. Coming back from a knee surgery Sebe struggled returning. Although she was so excited to be back on the mats and train hard she found her body wasn’t performing the way she wanted it to. She struggled feeling frustrated like she had fallen behind so much in her techniques and skill. She says she almost quit, but she just keep showing up to class and had to trust the process. With the help of her teammates she was encouraged and reminded that it would take time for her to get back to where she was before she hurt her knee.
For Sebe Jiu-Jitsu imitates life and life imitates Jiu-Jitsu. She says her mat life always seems to reflect her life outside of the academy. If there is a challenge she is facing outside of the mat, she is usually struggling with a certain technique on the mats. However she says when she decides to approach the challenge at a different angle she tends to see it more clearly and that’s when she is able to overcome the challenges. She tries to apply what she learns on the mats to her life outside of the mats and vice versa.
“Jiu Jitsu to me means to evolve. Evolution. We’re always changing and always learning. Jiu-Jitsu always challenges me to step out of my comfort zone in order to be better, to learn and to grow. I have to change certain habits or the way my mind thinks in order for me to improve my game.”
Girls in Gis staff writer
Shama Ko is a brown belt with Gracie Humaita out of Austin, TX. She has been a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner since November of 2003. She is a photographer, writer, community organizer and activist. She heads the Girls in Gis organization or as she calls it the “movement”. She describes herself as both a lover and a fighter. She loves to laugh and not take life too seriously.