Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu means many things to many people. Some train Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu with the hopes of being a black belt world champion. Others are just looking to get a good work-out in after a hard day at work and learn something. For me, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu became my life. When everything around me was out of control, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu kept me in control and was the only constant in my life.
When most college students are spending there final weeks of college drinking, celebrating, and preparing for the future jobs, I was doing the complete opposite. My senior year of college was perhaps one of my hardest. The year before, when I was a junior, my father passed away on Halloween. From that point on, things changed. After he passed, my life took on a different role. It went from being a college student to helping plan a funeral, help my mom, and make sure my brothers where taken care of. I spent most of my junior year and that summer doing just that. On top of it all, I was also preparing to play my senior year of football. When I returned to college for training camp, things seemed pretty normal. This was until I got an unfortunate call. My mom suffered a heart attack and was rushed to the hospital. I knew something was wrong. I got home as fast as I could, barrowing my roommates car. Once I arrived home, I realized my life was going to be very different. My whole senior year, I spent taking care of my mom and my younger brothers. Her doctor’s basically told me her kidneys shut down and she would need multiple surgeries with dialysis treatments three days a week. I knew it was going to be a long haul. I started to commute every day to school. I would take my mom to dialysis treatments at 6:00am, three days a week, and then drive up to school. I did this for most of my senior year. During graduation, I remember carrying my mom into the gym to watch because she was too tired to walk. People say that one dialysis treatment is has hard on the body, similar to running a marathon. She did this three days a week. After I graduated, things just got worse. Week by week, month by month, things took a turn for the worse. She suffered a fall and broke her hip. After that, she never recovered and passed away that year.
During this time, I was looking for an outlet. Football was always my outlet. Since that was over, I needed something else. Right after her funeral, I discovered Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu was like nothing I have never seen before. It was humbling to say the least. The first thing I noticed about Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu was the focus it gave me. During class, I was highly focused on Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and nothing else. No matter how crazy my life was, I had 1.5 hours a day to focus. It was amazing, especially since during this time, I was going through probate since my mom did not have a will. Lawyers, hospitals etc. where constantly calling. However, during Brazilian jiu-Jitsu, I did not hear those calls. All I could focus on was training. The more I trained, the better I felt. This trend continues still to this day. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu kept me going and got me to where I am today – teaching and helping improve others.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, like life, is filled with ups and downs. Some days you will have a great training session; others you will have a horrible one. This also occurs in life, some days are terrible while others are outstanding. Most important is how you react to the highs and lows. I remember being overly stressed and tired then thinking to myself: This is not hard; you know what hard is. Walking after you have had triple bypass and dialysis is hard. I remember seeing my mom in such pain just trying to eat. Pushing myself was not hard; what she was doing was hard. Sometimes during Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, new students get frustrated and think Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is too hard for them because they do not understand it. I try to explain to them that Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is tough, but that is part of the journey. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu will teach you to push through, even when things are hard. Everyone I know that has every trained Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has gone through a period of time when they felt like they were not getting any better. The beauty of the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu journey is how you react to those frustrations. If you quit every time, things will get hard and you will not get far. This is the same with life. If every time things get difficult and you quit and walk away from it, you will not learn anything from the situation.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has more to teach someone than just techniques. Techniques are vital, but it’s the learning process, practice, and frustrations that come along that will change you. One of the greatest saying I have heard sums this up perfectly, “There is no wining or losing, only learning.”