BJJ, from a skinny white belt's perspective

A little background on me. I’m a 36 year old guy who, up until BJJ, had never taken any martial arts classes. In fact, I had never been very active. I didn’t wrestle, play football or baseball, run, or enjoy swimming, and I hated mandatory phys. ed. throughout school. I never got in a fight, and though I was constantly teased and picked on, I never had a mindset for revenge.

I grew up in the era of The Karate Kid, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, etc., and late night reruns of kung fu movies. Love or hate them, stars like Jean Claude Van Damme, Steven Seagal, and even Chuck Norris set a lot of the standards for how kids my age thought about martial arts. Lots of my friends took Taekwondo and Karate, and Jeet Kune Do was referenced regularly as the greatest of the martial arts (presumably based more on the superstar nature of Bruce Lee than actual knowledge about JKD). When I was in high school, I was fortunate enough to attend UFC 4 here in Tulsa, where Royce Gracie continued his quest to show the world the merits of his family’s art. As with many people, this was my introduction to BJJ.

At the time, I was about 5’5”, and maybe 110 lbs. To call me skinny was to put it mildly. Pretty much the only thing I was good at was hiding behind signposts. I had no hope of being good at any sport. I was intrigued by the martial arts that claimed to use your opponent’s weight to your advantage (and didn’t include getting punched in the face), particularly judo and aikido. Unfortunately, circumstances prevented me from ever being able to take any lessons so my intrigue just festered in the back of my mind as life progressed.

The UFC became more popular, my friends and I watched almost all of the PPVs, and the interest slowly built back up. So when a friend of mine mentioned that a friend of his was taking BJJ lessons and would I like to go try it out with him sometime, my girlfriend thought it would be a great idea for something we could do together and we jumped at the opportunity.

This is all to say that I had no experience, nor any real context in which to place BJJ with regards to other sports or martial arts; I was a clean slate. Over the next few posts, I’m going to discuss a bit about what has been put on that slate for me thus far. A lot of things get written on there but there is so much to learn that the writing is barely finished before it dissolves back off, leaving only a slight trace that is vaguely recalled weeks later when it gets drilled again.

I hope to use this to provide some insight from my own experiences for those considering Brazilian Jiu Jitsu as a potential way to exercise, gain confidence, or improve overall well-being. Maybe some of you can even stop by and train with us sometime, whether it's your first class or your three-thousandth.

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