To contribute your story, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Feel free to include a pic!I’m a lawyer, a sexual assault crisis counselor, and a sexual assault survivor. I’m older, too (having started jiu jitsu at 36) and I really appreciate how jiu jitsu has enhanced my confidence and changed my self image. Weight is just a number; my body is fearfully and wonderfully made– to choke people out! And my team is an extension of my family.
I discovered Brazilian jiu jitsu because I was training in another martial art called kajukenbo, which contains a groundfighting aspect. I really didn’t care for punching, kicking, or katas, but the grappling really interested and excited me. I enjoy it because it is both physical and intellectual. Instead of focusing on learning 20 different movements that made no sense for little me to use against a much larger opponent, I was encouraged to learn to adapt my choice of techniques to take advantage of my short stature and other physical attributes.
I can’t imagine life without jiu jitsu now.
–Georgette is a blue belt under Phil Cardella and Donald Park and trains at Relson Gracie Austin. She blogs at Georgette Oden.
My journey into jiu-jitsu has been an unexpected one, most of all to myself. I began as a reluctant spectator; my partner, Matt Fuller, and I began dating over a year ago and his constant references to something called “jits” piqued my curiosity enough to attend one of his tournaments. I cannot remember ever feeling more out of place in my life; this room was full of hundreds of people living in a world I knew nothing of. Besides feeling like an outsider looking in, I was terrified by what seemed to be brutal acts of violence taking place on the mat. As a self-described liberal, feminist, passivist, I started to question what I had gotten myself into.
I stuck with Matt, which means by default I stuck with jiu-jitsu. I fell into the role of enthusiastic spectator; I was there with the Gatorade and a back rub after every practice and match. As I became a familiar face to folks in the jiu-jitsu world, I started to see the sport in a different light. What I had mistaken as random aggression proved itself to be anything but. Jiu-jitsu is not only a sport of logic but one of self-realization. Rather than the person you roll with, your greatest enemy in jiu-jitsu is yourself. Think about a game of chess; your success is based on your ability to strategically plan the pattern of your moves. Growth occurs through trial, error, and readjustment.
My new-found appreciation of jiu-jitsu did not lead to me setting a foot on the mat, however. My history with sports throughout middle and high school has taught me that I’m not what one would describe as “body-conscious”. It’s not uncommon for me to bear the marks of someone who regularly walks into door jambs and bookcases. Matt’s offers to take me to open mat were constantly counteracted with, “Talk to me about walking in a straight line, and then I’ll try what you do”.
Through what can only be described as a total buy in to peer pressure, I found myself at a Mechanicsville Martial Arts’ Women’s class taught by Chrissy Linzy. The warm-up proved difficult for me, as I have never in my life felt the need to put by body into the positions I was instructed to. But by the end of the hour, I was soaked in sweat, exhausted, and declaring I’d be back next week. For me, I was hooked by the pure challenge of it. I have never claimed to be athletically-gifted and that’s just something that after 20-some years I thought I had come to terms with. However, I will admit I’m possibly the most stubborn person you will ever meet and if you tell me that I can’t do something I will kill myself proving you wrong. More importantly, if I tell myself I’m going to do it then I’m going to do it.
And I have done it. I’ve slowly found the stamina and the confidence to work myself from once a week women’s class, to four times a week intermediate class. This, of course, could not have been done without the constant support from Chrissy, Matt, and several others. I’m preparing for my first tournament at the end of November. I’m terrified, and ask myself every day how the hell I got to this point. But that has been the adventure for me- pushing myself to places I never thought I’d go. I enjoy proving myself wrong. And my slowly-developing abs are certainly a perk, too.
Mechanicsville Martial Arts (Yamasaki affiliate)