Thankful to Tap Out

Sadly, Halloween is officially over. It rained in my area, so the few trick-or-treaters that stopped by got to treat themselves to a large handful of candy. Tricks and treats are fun, but November brings us to a season of thanks.

I probably sound like a broken record (has anyone heard an actual broken record?), but I’m thankful to be in a position that I can practice Brazilian jiu-jitsu. This sport keeps me sane and is a net positive in my life. Consider this my jiu-jitsu evangelist blog post for the year.

Disconnection

Photo by George Morgan on Unsplash

Jiu-jitsu is the only time of the day when I’m truly disconnected. Unless I’m sleeping, I usually stare at a screen for both work and leisure—it doesn’t help that I read more ebooks than print books these days.

As I mentioned in my last post, I didn’t have regular access to the internet when I was growing up. I had plenty of screen time with TV and video games, but I wasn’t glued to the news or otherwise connected to an endless stream of updates.

Now, 10 or 15 years later, I have the entire internet in my pocket with notifications vying for my attention left and right. Although I’m consciously trying to mitigate my time on social media, I still crawl back to it semi-regularly.

At least jiu-jitsu can set me straight for a couple hours out of my day. From drilling techniques to sparring with teammates, I can’t afford to think about anything other than jiu-jitsu when I’m not the mat. If I do, I inevitably pay for it with a tap-out.

Exercise

Photo by Danielle Cerullo on Unsplash

If it wasn’t for jiu-jitsu, exercise would be something I had to talk myself into. Because exercise is a side effect of the sport, I’m not stuck embracing that “pain = gain” or that I have to daydream my way through a long jog.

Other people may genuinely enjoy conventional exercise, but I only feel good for about an hour after a workout. The whole process is boring and uncomfortable and I only do it for the end result (i.e. the mirror). If I can look and feel good without exercise, I wouldn’t do it and neither would you (…would you?).

When I practice jiu-jitsu, I do it because it’s fun and I enjoy learning something new. Unlike traditional workouts, exercise is a happy side effect in jiu-jitsu (along with premature arthritis and nagging little injuries, but it’s still worth it). The goal of practicing jiu-jitsu is simply to practice jiu-jitsu.

Learning

Photo by Feliphe Schiarolli on Unsplash

As I mentioned above, I love learning new things. Maybe I’m a simple monkey, but it amazes me how much I can learn from a single technique or movement. We can practice the same move for weeks and I will pick up a new detail in every class. I can’t think of another repetitive activity that could consistently hold my interest.

Unless I back to school to get a master’s degree, my days as a student are over. In my career as a technical writer, I’m am the expert in providing knowledge and information to others. Sure, I research and learn things every day in the professional world, but I’m not learning for the sake of learning. This kind of learning becomes stressful when real people are affected by my decisions.

In jiu-jitsu, I either learn something or I tap out and I still learn something.

Social Outlet

Photo by Scott Warman on Unsplash

I like to read, watch TV, and play video games. In other words, I stay home unless I’m forced to leave to work or forage for food. I can’t stay home to practice jiu-jitsu, so I leave the confines of my own prison for that too.

Although it sounds like an oxymoron, I’m an introvert who likes to chat (sometimes). It can be awkward to roll around on the floor with a stranger dressed in pajamas, so I like to talk with my training partner to get to know them. Thanks to jiu-jitsu, I met lawyers, doctors, truck drivers, developers, salespeople, and everyone in between who I wouldn’t have met otherwise.

At the risk of sounding like an infomercial, jiu-jitsu helps me get out of the house and make friends. It’s so hard to meet people and make friends as an adult, so I’m thankful for this happy side effect as well.


Keep in mind that not every school is the same, so your mileage may vary. If you’ve never tried jiu-jitsu or if anything I talked about sounds interesting to you, give it a try! You may just find your new favorite thing. Or maybe you won’t, but at least you tried!

To keep in the spirit of the season, thanks for reading!

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