Since joining my local dojo, lots've awesome things have happened.
For one, I've lost all my "skinny fat". Also, I've put on lean muscle. I've even opened up this whole neuronal portal in my brain to which I absolutely lacked access before. (Not to mention the fact that - between doing Muay Thai, JKD, and Krav Maga - I've watched my slacks size descend while my energy levels soar.) But something strange I noticed after joining Trident Academy of Martial Arts - almost straight away - was that the people who were doing jiu-jitsu were getting even more of a workout than I was. Seriously. These people would walk in smelling like fresh laundry and lavender, all done up from their workdays. Fast forward a mere sixty minutes later, and they looked like savage human puddles. A complete stranger to BJJ, I didn't get it. How was this possible? Watching the actual class from the sidelines, it just looked like a giant posse of perspiring bodies rolling around and exerting minimal effort in pajamas.
How hard could that be?
One day, I finally decided to investigate for myself.
And... does anyone in the audience wanna guess exactly how long it took me to realize just how massively mistaken I'd been? Yes. Approximately one and a half minutes. (Minus the one minute, if we're being honest.) And that's because the first thing about ground combat that I realized, was that it demands everything of you. As the class progressed, I discovered that it's this sweaty souffle that's equal parts leg strength, core work, agility, and isometrics, mixed in with a helluva lot of brainpower batter. This is great not only in that you'll land yourself a nice abdominal washboard or lethal lower limbs capable of anaconda level compression... but also inasmuch as it aids in your other athletic ventures - martial arts-y or not.
With jiu-jitsu, it's not like running or biking - where parts of your body (including your brain) can turn off intermittently. When it comes to the ground, everything's engaged. Why? Because it's a constant, close-quarters competition where you're perpetually trying to submit someone and avoid being submitted yourself. Every appendage has a purpose and every motion's deliberate. There's a goal behind every move you make. In fact, if I ever actually played chess (for the record, I don't), I'd probably compare it to that. You've got to be ready to read your opponent's moves and have several responses on deck to deliver in response. In that way, you're always working everything. And, seeing as your brain's engaged (inasmuch as it's committed to not letting your body get submitted), that means you connect better with your body than you would with other types of exercise you can stand to half azz while day-nightmaring about the list of to-do's and bills and financial pickles awaiting you back at home.
There are no stakes in many of the typical, "obvious" types of exercise.
Thus, your mind can wander.
(When was the last time your elliptical put you in an armbar?)
Not so with jiu-jitsu.
And I totally love that brain escape.
It's like entering a neuronal Narnia - another dimension in my dome to which I can abscond from haunting thoughts. Granted, I've only had a taste of BJJ so far. But I'd be lying if I said I'm not getting the itch to get involved - especially as we touch on the fundamentals of it more and more in Krav Maga class.
Now, admittedly, part of it's because of this new sushi restaurant opened up down the street. (Sounds irrelevant, I know; but it inevitably means I'm definitely gonna be getting wider from all the white rice). And, seeing as all the people I see leaving BJJ are fleshy waterfalls after sixty minutes (because they've burned up a good 500 to 600 calories), this seems like a legit addition to my fitness repertoire. #logic
Also, I can't help but recall one of my many reasons for joining Trident in the first place: self defense.
Granted, I'm addicted to Muay Thai and you'll rarely see me miss Mikey's Thursday night 6:30 class for it.
(Me, trying not to fly across the room, as an un-pictured black belt annihilates the thai pads I'm holding.)
That said, everything we do in class happens on our feet. And, unfortunately, not all my prospective, hypothetical, assailants-that-hopefully-I'll-never-meet are going to be cordial enough to stay on their feet - or allow me to remain on mine. By drilling escape routes into my muscle memory for when an attacker's at close quarters, I stand a far better chance of not freaking out when it comes to a combat crunch. And I also know I'll stand a far better chance of evading some sort've painful or fatal scenario when those drills feel like second nature. Incidentally, this isn't lip service; I've got full faith in drills because my body's already started doing JKD moves without me thinking about it, when non-training buddies start play-fighting me outside of class. (Shout out to the dude who tried to pull me into a pool a few months ago; for the record, the only thing I bruised was his ego. I think...) So, it stands to reason that the same might just apply with other drills.
Plus, within the safety of Trident's walls (and with a respectful partner - which applies to everyone with whom I've trained thus far), I can have fun with it. Whenever I'm training in any genre of the arts there, I enjoy feeling completely lost in whatever we're doing. With ground combat, however, there's something slightly different. A perpetual prize (winning) lingers - just a single series of moves away. So, in addition to the thoroughgoing workout you're getting, your brain's on board as well - because it's calculating what you've gotta do to accrue that ephemeral trophy - before your partner does. Again. And again. And again. And, even when you "lose" - even when you hafta tap - you're always winning in the long run. Why? Well, because (if you're paying attention, instead've getting down on yourself for being bested), your partner's always teaching you new tips. And you can tuck those tip-tools into your belt - which will help transform its color to the next level up before you even realize it.
An art that both aids in self defense, brain strengthening, and getting a hotter body?
Pssh... where do I sign up?
Your invitation for this badazz pajama party is just a click away.
See you there 😉