I love jiu jitsu.
But sometimes I hate it too.
Jiu jitsu forces me to see myself for who I really am – all of me – the good, the mediocre, and yes, the ugly.
I’ve always thought of myself as a nice and generally humble person. And I think for the most part I am.
But on the mat I discovered that I have a bigger ego than I ever knew. It’s a side of myself that I don’t much like.
And jiu jitsu forces me to confront it every time I roll.
It’s one of the things I love about jiu jitsu. And one of the things I hate about it too.
A while ago, I had a health issue that took me off the mat for a few months. Being off the mat allowed me to hide from that side of me that I don’t like and reassure myself that I’m a nice and humble person without pesky ego issues.
By the time I finally recovered and was able to resume rolling, I realized I wasn’t looking forward to being confronted with the ugly that I don’t like to see.
I counted up the months I’d been gone, and couldn’t handle the thought of going back and being that much “farther” behind than all the people who hadn’t quit and who’d been showing up every day and getting steadily better.
So, instead of going back, I convinced myself that it was time to quit. I told myself that I was getting too old, and I’d had too many injuries, and I had too many health issues……suffice it to say, I came up with a litany of reasons for why I should quit.
It was a litany of bull manure, true, but I told it to myself all the same.
I’m nothing if not stubborn, irrational, and stubbornly irrational.
For 44 years, self-sabotage has been one of my primary go-to coping strategies.
This has It has led to a very long list of regrets.
But be that as it may, quitting has always seemed preferable to actually facing unpleasant things. So quit I did.
Not unsurprisingly, however, quitting jiu jitsu didn’t protect me from seeing the not-so-good in myself.
It merely meant that instead of staring at my pesky ego issues I was staring at my pesky quitting issues.
And I was miserable.
It took me a long time, but finally I allowed myself to see the truth.
When I gave up on jiu jitsu in order to avoid facing the fact that I have flaws, I cut myself off from a community of people I loved dearly – my jiu jitsu family.
Jiu jitsu is an interesting thing. When you roll, you have an intense close and personal interaction with another person.
You may have known that person for years, or you may have met them for the first time only a few seconds earlier.
Either way, you roll around on the mat with that person and become absolutely drenched in a mixture of their sweat, your sweat, and a bunch of other people’s sweat.
But it doesn’t matter. You roll. You play. You laugh.
It’s like being a child, only better.
I think you can learn just about anything you need to from a person just by rolling with them.
If you’re a jerk, you can’t hide that on the mat. If you’re a caring, nurturing person, you can’t hide that either, not even when you’re choking someone. Timid. Scared. Anxious. Can’t hide any of it.
My jiu jitsu peeps are people who’ve rolled with me.
That means they’re people who have seen the me that I see when I’m on the mat – the good, the mediocre, and the ugly.
And they like me anyway. They’re a community of people who like me, and accept me, just the way I am. It doesn’t get much better than that.
That’s something worth fighting for.
I have lots of regrets in life. But I’ve decided that giving up on jiu jitsu and losing my jiu jitsu family because of I don’t like seeing my imperfections is not going to be one of them.
My jiu jitsu peeps don’t give a rat’s butt about my ego issues, in fact, they probably have their own issues. We all do. They just want me to get over myself, stop the self-sabotage nonsense, and get my butt out on the mat so that we can all have fun, play, and roll around on the ground in our jiu jitsu pajamas.
Which is exactly what I’m doing.
I love jiu jitsu.
And I love my jiu jitsu family. They may just be the best self-defense against my worst enemy – me!