Storytime: Why I Started Jiu-Jitsu
Updated: Mar 16
As I've been giving more insights about what women should expect when they decide to try jiu-jitsu, both on and offline, some people have been asking exactly how and why I started BJJ. Everyone has their own journey when it comes to doing their chosen martial arts. Jiu-jitsu brings in so many people of so many different sizes and shapes AND different walks of life. Throughout my years in jiu-jitsu (not to sounds like a master, with only 8 years [7 if you count the year I took off and some inconsistent training] of jiu-jitsu ), I've met so many people with different stories and they are all interesting to some degree.
My journey started back in 2012 (I believe in March). For that past year, I had been beating myself up because I felt at the age of 21, I haven’t “made it.” I had just found a month prior, but I felt I wasn’t good enough and they might have hired me by mistake. I was still living at home. I was a bit overweight, feeling unattractive, and unworthy. With all the punches life was throwing at me, I wanted to finally punch back.
This desire translated itself into me “wanting to punch bitches faces in” and I thought the best way to do this was through MMA. I don’t know if it was the desire to just get my aggression out or just wanting to put the hurt I felt inside on other people. Mind you, I could have been one of those crazy women who lashed out when someone just glanced at them the wrong way. But, I decided that 1) getting charged with assault 2) being on worldstar 3) getting washed by someone even crazier than me or getting the triple whammy of all three wouldn’t be the best way to get my aggression out.
After talking to my friend Mike, he told me to start with jiu-jitsu as that it one of the hardest martial arts to really get a grasp on. He then gave me the address of Ringside Martial Arts, where I walked in a workout top and Victoria’s Secret PINK sweatpants, not knowing what the heck to expect and definitely not dressed for rolling on the floor (my hair was in tree braids at the time as well, so didn’t know my hair was going to be a mop).
Through the window, I saw a bunch of men just rolling around. Some super concentrated on their violent cuddling, others laughing and going through movements slow. I was so concentrated on what was happening on the red and blue mat that the last thing I noticed that there was NO WOMAN PRESENT. Not one. Not even like a girl sitting randomly in a corner somewhere. This was so daunting. What the hell was I getting myself into? How was I going “beat bitches faces in” when there no bitch face to be beatin’?
The owner of the gym greeted me and was kind enough to show me the basics you get in your first jiu-jitsu lesson: bridging and shrimping (I remember I didn’t do rolling until my first real jiu-jitsu class). After, mastering those two things, the owner proceeds to lay down and says to me “Get on top” and in my mind I was like “what kind of freak shit is this?”
He could tell I wasn’t feeling it and he gave me this small jewel of advice: “You gotta get comfortable with being close to people. This is a contact sport and you just have to get use to it.” In my mind, I was determined to get rid of feeling like shit and being life’s punching bag.
Despite the weirdness of being on top of man and then proceeding to have that man be on top of me to learn how to effectively bump someone off of you, I decided to join the gym, buy my first gi, and come to my first full class (I know realized that what I walked into on the first day was an “open mat” where people just get together to train or “roll” (spar) or just work on a few moves they saw on YouTube that they taught was cool). After that day, I went to my first class, a black girl in a white gi (see what I did there? Eh eh?) feeling awkward running around the mat, doing the various warm-up exercises, and not being able how to roll properly. The rest is history (so cliché, I know but well). It’s still a journey and I’m glad I took that first step and got over myself
For those of you who are reading this that does jiu-jitsu, how and why did you start? If you’ve heard of jiu-jitsu and have had apprehensions about starting, why?