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Jiu Jitsu Has Something For Everyone

Jiu Jitsu, also referred to as Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, is a martial art with a concentration on grappling and submission. The goal of jiu jitsu is quite simply to control an opponent and force him to submit to your will.

Jiu Jitsu has two essential components; sports (competitive) and self defense. It was made famous by the Gracie family by bringing it to the UFC in the nineties.

It is my opinion, and the opinion of many others, that Jiu Jitsu is the most diverse discipline for self defense and self improvement. It's not too much of a stretch to say that Jiu Jitsu positively effects every aspect of one's life. Jiu Jitsu has something for everyone.

There are many of us who desire an exercise regimen but easily get bored with the slinging of steel and the daily WOD's. After all, we don't necessarily want to be the best... in exercising. Drilling and sparring jiu jitsu for three days a week for a minimum of 6 months will put you in the best shape of your life. You will assuredly tone muscles that you didn't know you had.

Many practitioners have lost as much as 70 pounds simply by sparring. Your stamina and cardiac output will also be improved. Jiu Jitsu matches are often broken up by belt levels, age brackets and weight categories. This way, even the heaviest, as well as the smallest, practitioner is afforded the opportunity to compete equally and fairly.

As human beings, we often seek a connection with fellow humans. We have a need to belong to a like-minded group. We find comfort with such unity. When training in Jiu Jitsu we often join gyms or dojos. Our teammates become family. In any given jiu Jitsu gym across the country you will likely see black, white, and brown grapplers. Gay, straight, old, young, conservative, liberal, wealthy and poor; they are all represented. And on the mat, none of those things matter. Not only are they not a concern, they aren't even a thought. Once on the mat they share only one goal; to bend their

opponent's will to submit. There is something uniquely intimate with grappling with another human being. Sweating on one another. Bleeding on one another. Having the trust knowing that your partner will release the hold once you "tap". It's a bond that you won't get in any other activity.

Some Jiu Jitsu practitioners enjoy the sense of competition. They have an inner need to test themselves and the competition is the best way to experience it, next to actually fighting someone. There are Jiu Jitsu tournaments just about every weekend across the country. Some are major national level competitions while others are locally organized. With the exception of some smaller, local tournaments, there are no participation trophies. Generally, you earn what you achieve. There is a saying in Jiu Jitsu, "you either win, or you learn." I'm here to tell you, that's bullshit. We can lose. We should lose sometimes. After all, it's only through losing that we learn. But, make no mistake, people do lose.

I would argue that the original purpose for Jiu Jitsu has always been to learn self defense. It's common knowledge that most attacks or fights start on the feet but often end up on the ground. Jiu Jitsu is founded on the ground game. "Snap, Tap, or Nap"

as they like to say. Law Enforcement officers are starting to see the benefits of learning BJJ. Anecdotal evidence, and some small studies, have shown that an officer with several months of BJJ training is far less likely to get injured OR injure the individual they are in the altercation with. If an individual officer is confident in their abilities to control a subject and adept in defending themselves , they are far less likely to resort to lethal force. Jiu Jitsu saves lives.

It should be no surprise that women are one of the more physically vulnerable members of our society. According to the Department of Justice, one out of six women have been sexually assaulted. A woman who learns to defend herself has power. Now, I am not saying that all women will be able to successfully fight off any male attacker. But, with only six months of jiu Jitsu training a woman will be better capable to survive an attack. She will have experience in being put in an uncomfortable situation. We call this "stress inoculation". Being comfortable in uncomfortable situations. Anyone untrained who is placed in a choke from behind will more then likely freeze. In any Jiu Jitsu gym being choked from behind is just another day that ends in Y. Jiu Jitsu training allows women to take control of their lives and not live in fear.

"But Chris, I'm too old to learn Jiu Jitsu". That is nonsense! I was 52 years old when I first started in Jiu Jitsu. I had no combative experience nor did I wrestle in high school like many of my class mates. I walked in cold one day and was determined to learn self defense. I am now 57 and I'm not even the oldest guy in our gym. Currently we have at least six regular students over the age of 50, and we all compete regularly. We are plagued with arthritis in our knees and shoulders. we don't move as fast as our younger teammates. But we have Old Man Strength and guile. Before even beginning my journey in BJJ I had several major surgeries including open heart surgery to replace a faulty heart valve. Some practitioners have had pace makers installed. Age is just a number and you are never too old to learn.

Children nowadays battle more bullying and physical attacks. It's important that we teach our children the difference between bullying and assault. Once they are pushed or hit, it is no longer bullying and becomes assault and battery. And their response should be appropriate. Youth who learn jiu jitsu are far more capable in handling themselves in physical altercations but are also capable, and confident enough, to avoid fights. They have the self esteem necessary to handle altercations through de-escalation. Many youth practitioners also compete which allows them a healthy outlet while also bolsters their self worth. A kid who is able to be coached often grows up more confident and emotionally healthy.

It's a fact. We are all broken in some way. Depression, anxiety, social challenges, PTS, TBI, and addictions. They all can take a toll on our livelihood. I have personally witnessed all of these in my gym alone. Jiu Jitsu channels our energy to one goal. To succeed. Many of us just want a place to belong and to be loved for who we are. With all of our brokenness. In the five minutes that we are grappling, I am determined to bend you to submission but at the end of the day, we are family; with a bond sometimes stronger than blood. And its only through Jiu Jitsu that I have truly discovered myself and my capabilities. I hope to see you all on the mat.

Chris Shay

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