What does Jiu-Jitsu mean to me?

A few weeks ago, in my unprofessional opinion, I decided it was time take the knee out for a test drive and see how it would hold up back on the mats. I have to say it's great being back. My knee is not quite 100% better yet, but I've been able to roll a few times with much lighter opponents. For the most part it is just drills and technique that I've been focusing on. Now of course, I don't want to jinks myself, but its held up pretty well thus far.

Even though my return to the mats is a celebratory event in my life, it is bitter sweet. It's still strange to be on foreign mats in a new school, with a different instructor and new training partners and no patch on my back. I do miss my old training partners and instructors. But its time to "man up", because I have a new purpose, to find a new BJJ "home". It is one of the biggest choices I'll ever make. So I am not taking this decision lightly. I am being as patient, open minded, honest and as well informed as I can be in selecting my next home.

Over the past two weeks, I've taken a class at four different schools. Everyone has made me feel so welcomed and right at home wherever I've gone to train, which has definitely made this process easier and more enjoyable. The more schools  I visit the more I am learning about what components should go into choosing a school or a team. And the more schools I visit the more the list grows and becomes revised. I see this as an ongoing process and I am okay with not rushing through it. After all, it is  a big decision that hopefully I  will never have to make it again.

I can only imagine how overwhelming this process can be for someone brand new to Jiu-Jitsu.  How would someone with no prior experience and no knowledge of the martial art even know what to look for or where to start? How can they really know what is  right for them when they have nothing to compare it to? Or maybe having previous experience makes the decision much harder and the novices are the lucky ones who are  blissfully ignorant.

Even though I am more the right brainy, crafty, artsy type I am incredibly OCD ( obsessive compulsive disordered) when it comes to organizing, planning and structuring things. I have lists for my lists, so naturally, I've composed a plan of attack for my shopping adventure.  In doing my pre-shopping research of Austin academies, I was shocked to see how many academies have opened since I first started in 2003. The number of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu academies must of at least tripled in the last decade. There are more options than ever. There are at least 23 schools, 20 teams and 18 black belts (one female one) in Austin. The old days are long gone. Growth is good for all of us and I think it's healthy for academies to have more competition. This forces them to up their game in order to retain students and ultimately stay in business. Nowadays, if someone isn't happy, they can just leave knowing they have choices, which wasn't the case a few years ago.

To me having choices is extremely important when making such a big decision as to what academy and team to choose. I feel the more choices the better. But on the flip side, too many choices can also be confusing. This isn't easy process and  I am realizing is that it sure helps to know what it is you're looking for in the first place.The first step in my BJJ shopping experience was to establish my personal goals. Which presented me with  A multitude of  questions. For instance, do I want to teach? How actively do I want to compete? How do I want to contribute? My mind has been swimming, but it all comes back to the most important question..... what does Jiu-Jitsu really mean to me?

That's an incredibly hard question to answer even with as much experience as I have under my belt. Some people use the word addiction to define what Jiu-Jitsu means to them. Addiction implies negative connotation. I like to think that I am not enslaved to Jiu-Jitsu.

I prefer to think I am passionate, dedicated and in love with Jiu-Jitsu.  Just as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has evolved, my feelings about what it means to me has continued to change over the years.  The more I train Jiu-Jitsu, the more it becomes a part of who I am. Jiu-Jitsu has aided me in finding my weaknesses and build my strengths on and off the mats. It has given me a sense of purpose in life. Jiu-Jitsu is not just a martial art or a sport, it's a lifestyle. It is  what motivates me to be a better person.  The best part of Jiu-Jitsu to me is that it is an amazing gift for all of us to personally define.   


  1. First - I love your B&W photo - really well done!!
    Second - it used to shock people when I told them I've trained at 14+ BJJ schools with 20+ BBs. It's funny to realize that's really not that impressive anymore ;).

  2. Thanks Elyse! I like it too. It has a sort of "ultra-violence"-Clockwork Orange-Stanley Kubrickish style. Well, I am impressed! :) That's a lot of training! I think it's wonderful that more people are exploring different perspectives and styles. I makes us more versatile. :)


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