“A Raiva me levou ao jiu jitsu, mas o amor me fez ficar.”
“Anger brought me to jiu jitsu, but love made me stay.”
Often in life, ironically enough, it can be the details that make us different from one another, that bring us together. There’s usually a moment in everyone’s life where we realize that we’ve been searching for a place where we belong only to come up short handed. However, the truth of it is, we are all uniquely ourselves; therefore, there is no one person in the world who has experienced your exact same struggles, traveled down your exact same path, or come to your exact same conclusions.
But the beauty of jiu jitsu is that those defining differences – that typically make us feel out of place and alone in the world – are exactly what brings us together on the mat.
Anyone who trains jiu jitsu has been asked the question: “So, why did you start training?” And while the majority of us often will reply with the typical, yet valid, rolodex of responses such as “Oh, I wanted to learn self defense,” “My friend kept inviting me so I eventually took a class,” or “I wrestled and did competitive sports in high school so I thought it would be fun,” there quickly becomes a deeper “why” that keeps us coming back. Day after day. Month after month. Year after year. Despite how many broken bones our moms warns us we might get.
What better way to get a true understanding of unique jiu jitsu “whys” than go straight to the source?: students of the art.
“I originally started jiu jitsu as a hobby to do with my husband and kids, but I delayed starting because of something much bigger. My husband begged me every day after his first class to join him…’Just try it out,’ he said, ‘You’ll love it.’ I told him no for almost a year because a fear I had of feeling helpless. I was the victim of sexual assault 13 years ago and I didn’t ever want to feel helpless at the hands of another person ever again. Little did I know that my biggest fear turned into my biggest strength; I am strong and empowered and more confident now than I’ve ever been because of jiu jitsu. Now I train with my husband, I grow alongside my kids, and learn from the very best people I’ve ever known how to be the best version of myself. Jiu jitsu has changed how I view myself and what I’m capable of, and I no longer feel like the victim; I’m the victor.”
Erin Edwards, BJJ White Belt.
“When I started training, I was in it for the fight. I wanted the fight. I wanted the competition. That’s all I saw and focused on; trained to just beat others. Now I train for peace and understanding. Training now brings my life and mind peace at the end of the day. I look forward to cleansing myself and resetting my mind after a hard training session. I revel in the process of understanding more and expanding upon the techniques. Before it was always about the fight. Now it’s about being the most effective in connecting all aspects of jiu jitsu together. That’s what motivates me now: understanding the connection and sharing it with others.”
Coach Levi Rowe, BJJ Brown Belt.
“When I was 22, I was in an armed robbery and had a gun held to my head. The experience left me with a lot of anger, fear, and anxiety. I thought martial arts might be a good thing to try so I started training jiu jitsu when I was 23. Like most of us who train, I can honestly say jiu jitsu has absolutely changed my life for the better. Jiu jitsu is a tool to help me live my best life, on and off the mats. I’m not perfect by far, but each day I try. I’m very grateful that I get to teach people jiu jitsu and pass along the gift that has been given to me.”
Professor Ethan Snow, BJJ Black Belt.
“Personally, I didn’t even want to start training (even given I was just a kid) and it took me a couple of years to like it. As I began just doing it constantly, it became the thing I just did. I grew to love the sport and the self confidence and fitness it gave me at the same time (not to mention the bad***ness.) Now it’s like my family. The bond you make with the people around you and the connection you feel to the environment and the feeling of rolling. It’s like you’re a whole different person when you step on the mats.”
Avery Harter, BJJ Blue Belt.
“I do jiu jitsu to ease my mind. To ease my depression and anxiety. It’s the one thing I can do to quiet my thoughts and clear my mind and release the stress. It also gives me something else in my life to focus on outside of work. It makes me feel like I am working towards something positive that I can actually grow as a person with. Jiu jitsu also has done so much for my confidence. It has given me a sense of security in life. Whether that is a false sense or not, it doesn’t matter. It has also given me a community to be a part of. Some of the people I know the best, I have known for the littlest time. When you roll with people and struggle with people, you gain a massive amount of trust with them.”
Cooper Jacobs, BJJ Blue Belt.
Maybe you’re a woman training jiu jitsu who wants to learn self defense or how to fight away her past demons.
You might be training to scratch that competitive itch you’ve had your whole life. Or maybe to be a world champion. Or to make you a more well-rounded martial arts fighter.
You could be training because – somehow – literally fighting for your life is the only time you feel in control of your mind and safe from your own thoughts.
Maybe you train jiu jitsu because you need a little extra push in life – physically, socially, or emotionally.
It could be that your brother, sister, mom, dad, friend, neighbor, or even your child inspired you to train.
Or maybe you don’t train yet but you’re curious. And like we’ve all felt at some point in our lives – scared to try something new or afraid you may not fit in.
Whatever your “why” is for walking into the gym and on to the mats – you have a place here. There is no wrong answer to why you start or continue to train jiu jitsu. The mats are here for everybody. And even more, we’re all here for each other. Despite what the rest of the world may tell you, on the mats and in a jiu jitsu family, what makes us all so different is exactly what brings us all together.
Everybody has their own story and if you want to hear more of Easton students’ jiu jitsu whys, check out Caroline’s recent article!