My uncle and I got into an interesting conversation last night. A fellow grappler from our school invited us to a birthday bash of his. When we looked around the table, we noticed that the people he grappled with and the people he spent time with outside of jiu-jitsu differed immensely.
There’s something about jiu-jitsu that brings people together who would otherwise never speak to each other. But on the other hand, those people that you grapple with, they’re the only ones who will ever understand this aspect of your life. The people you spend time with on a daily basis, they can’t understand it. They fear it, think it’s stupid or just don’t care. They compare it to karate, aikido or kung fu. They think it’s just a childish endeavor, nothing more than a phase. A silly hobby you’ll grow out of. But little to they know of the impact it makes on someone’s life who truly treasures it.
The release, the ability to let go and be someone you can’t be anywhere else. Connecting with people you’d never connect with. When you fight someone, when you roll around a sweaty mat, sweating on each others faces, giving each other bruises and scrapes, and it all adding up to an embrace and a pat on the back and a mutual respect for each other, there’s a special bond created, almost like a family. It’s a closeness you can’t feel with anyone else. They’ve seen you sweat, bleed and hair out all over the place. They’ve seen you at your worst, and they respect you for it.
It’s also so special because such few people do it. When you really think about it, there are so many guitar-players, basketball players, writers, karate kids, “artists”, but how many people do you know that grapple? Sure there are lots of wannabes, you know, those “tough-looking” guys who have stern faces, shoulders high, walking around with a “TapOut” shirt on, which anyone who knows jiu-jitsu should know that that immediately signals a wannabe. There are so few people willing to sweat, to step onto that mat, to be that close and rough with a stranger and most importantly, tap. There are so few people willing to get their ass handed to them for the first few months till some new fish walks in, and they tell them what’s what. There are so few people willing to put their egos behind them.
I always say, the girls will quit because they don’t want to be rough and/or they don’t want to be that close to someone. The boys will quit cause their ego is too much to handle.
Which is why it takes a special person to do jiu-jitsu, grappling, high school wrestling. It’s not for everyone, but for those who it is for, it is commendable.
You either love it or hate. There is no “meh”.
Another thing which is absolutely wonderful about jiu-jitsu, it really is about the people you’re with. Being a girl, it’s wonderful to just be surrounded by a bunch of men, they aren’t catty, they aren’t judgmental and they don’t care when you look like a train wreck at the end of it. I can bleed, burp, fart or be crude, they still love me. They’re my big brothers, and they’ll always have my back.
They’re are all different sorts of men, middle-aged married men with a few kids, men in their early to mid 20’s, black, white, hispanic, asian, doctors, mechanics, cops, men out of prison, frats, nerds, enginneers, high school kids and wannabe hippies. But we’re all there for the same thing. We may never would have spoken to each other outside of jiu-jitsu, but no one will understand us like they will.