The Olympic Games really had me thinking about a variety of things this year. I have always wanted to be in the Olympics. I love to swim, but I am no Michael Phelps. In high school when we did our gymnastic portion of P.E. my teacher told me that I “fall really well.” so gymnastics is definitely out. I don’t own a horse, so equestrian events are out as well. That leaves me with the sport that I do actually do BUT it is not an Olympic sport.
I won’t get into all the logistics of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) not being in the Olympics we all know it sucks since we religiously train BJJ. And if by some chance they added it to the next games I would be 46 years old. What a story that would be a 46 year old competing in the Olympics! I already have my conversation with Bob Costas planned out after I won the gold. My gym, coaches, training partners, friends and family thanked. I would emphasize my preferred training music to Green Day in hopes that they would pick up that information and invite me to hang with them, maybe they would even write a song about me.
I would relay to the world my favorite GI company, my favorite rash guards, the list goes on and on. And then reality sets in and I realize that most likely I will never stand on that Olympic podium while the “Star Bangled Banner” is played in my honor. But I do compete on local levels and I have been on each level of the podium and sometimes not at all. Does this mean I am ready for Worlds, or the Pan Am Games? Probably not, but I am certainly closer than those who choose not to compete or even participate in our sport.
Some people don’t like to compete and that is fine. I compete for the simple fact that I like to compete. While I am facing an opponent, I am mostly facing myself. My insecurities, my previous matches, all my training come to the surface and I get to face them. It is very cathartic. Much cheaper than professional therapy, unless you have a rash guard obsession, than it could be very close in monetary terms.
In my home office on my wall hangs a very special item. It was custom made for me by a very talented blacksmith/team mate/purple belt named Pake McNally. The words of Joe Wilk “Jiu Jitsu Or Die” are welded on to it with five hooks. The five hooks represent each BJJ belt level. The words are my gyms motto, the words we at Combative Sport Center live by. On the very first hook hangs seven medals and a very dirty white belt. The second hook so far has seven medals as well and the remaining three hooks are empty with hopes of being filled as soon as possible. Each day I get to look at that. Each day I am reminded that I believe in myself. That others believe in me. That regardless if I paid an entry fee to compete, that there weren’t thousands of people watching, that maybe I even had less than 5 women in my bracket, I still went out on that mat and put my heart and soul into my matches.
Each one of us reading this knows the benefits of training jiu-jitsu. The closeness of our gym family, the friendships, and the list goes on and on. This Kaci Diane quote sums up my BJJ experiences “I love the person I’ve become because I fought to become her.” Literally I have fought to become her. You have fought to become her. The minute we step onto the mat we are all athletes. And all of our medals, even the lost matches makes us as close to an Olympian than those who are unwilling to try.
Kim Morris is a blue belt with Combative Sport Center in Manhattan, Kan., under Joe Wilk. She has been practicing jiu jitsu since November of 2013. She is a wife of 21 years and a mom of two boys, ages 19 and 10.