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.
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?
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.