It’s been ten years since I’ve started Jiu-Jitsu and I was just a blue belt up until a few weeks ago. It’s hard to admit that without a little bit of shame or embarrassment. But I know that everyone’s journey in this sport is different. Everyone has their reasons of why they joined. Everyone has their reasons of why they love it and stick with it. Everyone has their perspective. Everyone has their go-to techniques. And everyone has key lessons they’ve learned.
In the ten years since starting Jiu-Jitsu I’ve endured several injuries, underwent surgery, moved gyms, gone without a gym, and also had to deal with an uncooperative work schedule that either restricted my attendance to one day or week or prevented me from going to class at all. Needless to say, getting time on the mat has shown to be a battle at times.
I truly appreciate the sport of Jiu-jitsu. It’s the best workout I’ve ever found. It helps me with stress relief, and it challenges me on so many levels. I’ve learned a lot because of Jiu-Jitsu, but the number one lesson I’ve ever learned was not taught from my instructors (as awesome as they are).
I caught myself being in class, watching the technique, but thinking of anything else but Jiu-Jitsu (anyone else do this?). “Did I take the chicken out of the freezer to thaw? Don’t forget to return some phone calls you’ve been putting off for a while now. Make sure the laundry gets done tonight so you have something to wear to work in the morning…”, and on it went.
By constantly thinking ahead and not being present of where I was, I was not learning and developing my game like I could have been. My “now” wasn’t receiving my full attention and suffering because of it. What I truly enjoyed was only being experienced at half capacity because mentally and emotionally I was attending to other concerns.
As small as it may seem, I was grateful I caught myself wandering off in the moment. Realizing I was doing it was half the battle though. Learning to guard my time on the mats was another lesson altogether.
Now I place mental boundaries to guard my time at the gym. When I get to the gym and start stretching, then all other internal noise needs to dissipate. It isn’t easy, I must make a conscious decision every time.
I would love to say that I’ve made leaps and bounds in my game, but I haven’t seen that pay off yet. What I can say though is that I truly do enjoy and retain more while I’m in class. I have more mental clarity and understanding even while I’m rolling. And honestly, I just have more fun.
It’s completely understandable that this may seem like an elementary concept to some, but for me it was imperative. I get that so many women behind the gi juggle intense schedules. You’re not just a woman who loves Jiu Jitsu, but you’re a mom, wife, daughter, student, boss, or maybe all of the above. But maybe take my failure as your win to learn that, hey, let’s not just go to class, but let’s be present too.
Mindi is a purple belt under Josh and Steve McKinney at Headnod HQ in Granite City, Illinois in affiliation with TAC Team. She works full-time at an investment firm, but is also a volunteer minister, missionary, and author in her spare time.