Tuesday, 1 May 2012

What's Up With Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?

I've always wanted to learn martial arts. There are so many different ones to choose from though that it can be hard to decide what would most benefit you. For years all I did for fitness was weight lifting and I kept a log on a message board every day charting my progress. On that same board, there was a Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) section where guys would talk about technique, gear, fighters and upcoming events. I became really interested in reading what they had to say every day and decided that I wanted to be a part of it. I did a Google search of the MMA clubs in my area and called to ask about classes.

When people start watching MMA, they seem to focus more on the stand up aspect of the sport. Of course that's what I was interested in, too, but I asked the guy at the club I called what he thought would be the best thing to try first. He told me they taught Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiujitsu (BJJ) but he thought since I was female, I'd be more comfortable with Muay Thai because the BJJ class was all guys but they offered a women's Muay Thai class. So that's what I signed up for.

Initially, I loved it but after about a month, I wasn't really feeling it at that gym. It was hard to get to because I didn't have a car at the time, it was dirty and I didn't feel like I was getting a solid grasp of the basics. I looked around for another gym and found one close to my home. The first class I went to was an MMA class with both Muay Thai and BJJ.

After the Muay Thai portion of the class, I was introduced to BJJ. Watching the first technique being taught, I stifled my giggles because it looked so weird to see two guys wrap their bodies around each other so comfortably. I guess it's social conditioning but seeing straight guys in positions together that looked sexual cracked me up. When it was my turn to try, I felt really awkward but because of the guys' comfort level with the close contact, I soon relaxed and when I gave it a chance, I fell in love with BJJ.

What's so great about BJJ? Well, the technique used in this martial art is designed to allow a smaller, weaker person to defeat a larger, stronger person using leverage, joint locks and chokes. In BJJ you even learn how to choke a person using their own clothes! That's why we wear a gi for some training. There's also no gi training where people wear tighter fitting clothes and learn to fight just using their bodies. BJJ is a big part of the "ground game" in MMA. When a woman is attacked, most times that fight is going to the ground; the submissions you learn in BJJ could save you from being raped or worse. Of course, it's still always wiser to just run away...

After my first MMA class I never looked back. I've been training BJJ ever since but in the end, I switched back to the gym where I first tried Muay Thai; I can't imagine ever giving it up. It's an incredible workout, it's a really positive team atmosphere, it builds self-confidence and best of all, I can probably beat up most of the guys who strut around the weight room doing bicep curls in the squat rack.

I don't think I'll ever be able to win a punching contest with a guy but I'm pretty sure I can choke his ass out. Try it, you'll like it.

I think this interview says it all.

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