21 BJJ Improvements: 21 The Value of Trying

Part 21 of 21 improvements BJJ has had on my life. I AM FINALLY FINISHED! Blogging challenged DONE! This series was inspired by Tangled Triangle: 21 Days of Improvement. You can read my Part 20 here!

21/21 Improvements from BJJ:  The Value of Trying

For me, it’s the stick-to-it-ness that I value. It’s the weekly consistency. It’s the value of sticking with something you’re terrible at, because eventually you become not-terrible at it.

never give up, never surrender

I was talking to a friend and she said she was embarrassed that she couldn’t cook with spices. I asked why she couldn’t cook with spices, and she said it was because she didn’t do it. “So you’re embarrassed that you are not good at something you are a beginner at?”

I find this is the same with jiu jitsu. Folks try it, they feel stupid, or they feel the need to apologize for not being good. Then they quit because they’re apparently not getting better. They stop trying – they surrender.

This trying can also be in class. Not giving up on yourself or your partner mentally. You go into class and you attempt moves, even if you suck at them.

I’m not saying no one should ever quit jiu jitsu – that’s ludicrous. What I am saying is that if you WANT to do it, don’t quit because you don’t do it well. Don’t quit because you feel stupid. Try, try, try. Years of trying WILL pay off. People respect people who try hard! There is deep value in trying.


a. Fun ways of self expression, including via pedicure, BJJ fashion, gis, etc.

My toes went viral on Facebook

My toes went viral on Facebook

b. Actively encouraging women. I have always enjoyed encouraging girls and women, and I’m now getting to the “role model belt” level (see middle toe in picture).

c. The importance of details. How you turn your hips, what you grab, where you place your hands – these details matter. They’re small, but important. It’s the same in life – it’s the difference between how I clean and how my housekeeper cleans. She makes it look amazing, I make it look sloppy. 🙁

d. Not everything really matters at the start. Okay, so that white belt grabbed wrong, had too much space, didn’t quite turn right. They’re beginners, and they’re getting the gross motions. Details come with time. Not everything has to be absolutely perfect from the beginning. Too much nitpicking can lead to deep frustration.

e. Mindful schedule. In order to do jiu jitsu, I have to make time for it. This means that other important things need to be scheduled around it.

f. An object in motion stays in motion. I’m active and this is something that will continue. It seems impossible I ever got off the couch – now I don’t want to go back. Well, that’s sort of a lie – I just don’t want to go back to my sedentary life.

g. The importance of consistency. Starting things with enthusiasm and excitement is great, but what’s more important is the continuation. This is the same with jobs, with hobbies, with life. One big push at the beginning is not the most important thing ever.

So there you have it: 21 improvements + BONUS improvements that BJJ has given me in my life. Whew! Glad that blogging challenge is OVER!

Jiu Jiu’s Note: What are the biggest improvements you’ve seen in your life because of BJJ or your sport?

21 BJJ Improvements: 20 Efficiency

Part 20 of 21 improvements BJJ has had on my life. I am ready for it to be finished! This series was inspired by Tangled Triangle: 21 Days of Improvement. You can read my Part 18 here!

20/21 Improvements from BJJ:  Efficiency

Especially compared to black belts, white belts move inefficiently and ineffectively. I realized that after three and a half years of doing jiu jitsu, I am more efficient in my movements, and in a way that is more effective as well.

For example, go lay down in the middle of your bed. Then get up.

How did you get up?

Did you sit up, straight backed? Or did you hip escape?

When I carry things, I use jiu jitsu grips, when carrying a bag on my arm, I reach up and grab my collar for extra support.

Overall I’ve noticed that the higher belts use less energy, less movement, to achieve a better result. Often time it seems like they’re only one step away from a thing that looked so far away. I’m really excited that I’m gaining that type of effectiveness in motion in my life. Maximum results, minimal energy. The only real downside is that your jiu jitsu sparring sessions stop being so great for burning calories because you’re not moving as much!

I’ll be doing technical standups when I’m an old lady, and I’ll be hip escaping out of bed while other old ladies are breaking their hips. Those motions are efficient!

Jiu Jiu’s Question: How have you seen this efficiency manifest in your own life or training?

21 BJJ Improvements: 19 Loud Voice

Part 19 of 21 improvements BJJ has had on my life. This series was inspired by Tangled Triangle: 21 Days of Improvement. You can read my Part 18 here!

19/21 Improvements from BJJ:  Loud Voice

Right now, with social networks and other tools on the Internet, all of these 500 million people have a way to say what they’re thinking and have their voice be heard. – Mark Zuckerberg

What happens when all 500 million people start talking at the same time? Their voices get drowned out. Finding your voice amongst many can be a challenge. As a woman in jiu jitsu, I automatically had a louder voice by virtue of being in such a minority group.

This is who I am - a subgroup (blogger) of a subgroup (woman) of a subgroup (jiu jistu person).

I’m a subgroup (blogger) of a subgroup (woman) of a subgroup (jiu jistu person).

Finding your voice and maintaining your voice are two entirely different things. I feel blessed that people come here, interact, and come back later. Being a woman in jiu jitsu has given me a louder voice than I would have in other areas, such as teaching, or being an ex-pat, or even a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer.

And while I write about some silly things or some not-awesome things, I honestly try to use my voice and this platform in a positive manner, to help benefit women in this sport. I want to once again thank women who have written in telling their stories, and want to continue inviting women to submit your stories to be heard.

Jiu Jiu’s Question: Do you feel more heard or less heard since starting in BJJ (or your sport)? Do you stand out or do you get lost in the crowd? Are you one of a kind to others, or one of many.

21 BJJ Improvements: 18 less tv

Part 18 of 21 improvements BJJ has had on my life. This series was inspired by Tangled Triangle: 21 Days of Improvement. You can read my Part 17 here!

18/21 Improvements from BJJ:  Less TV

“TV viewing time may have adverse health consequences that rival those of lack of physical activity, obesity and smoking; every single hour of TV viewed may shorten life by as much as 22 minutes.”- telegraph.co.uk

When I joined Peace Corps I was so addicted to television that I asked someone to download and send me all my shows, and I believe I had a list of about 30 tv shows I was watching. You could pry my tv from my cold dead hands. I was a complete addict.

Today is Saturday. This week I have literally watched no television. Strike that. A friend came over and we watched a few youtube videos. Still, no actual television shows this week. WTF IS THAT ABOUT?? I NEVER would have believed you if you’d said I missed a week of television and didn’t miss it.

I still download shows, but I no longer feel a rush to watch. They are absolutely no longer number one in my life. This week I went to jiu jitsu four times! I meditated 6 times. I played with my cat. I read Tommyknockers. I did, however, watch some jiu jitsu videos on the way to work, learning more jiu jitsu!

Still – no tv this week? And yet I have no real anxiety or desire right now – it’s more a phantom limb syndrome – like I SHOULD feel anxiety or desire. Weird.

Jiu Jiu’s Question: Have you stopped consuming as much television since getting into BJJ (or your sport)?

21 BJJ Improvements: 17 Looking at life differently

Part 17 of 21 improvements BJJ has had on my life. This series was inspired by Tangled Triangle: 21 Days of Improvement. You can read my Part 16 here!

17/21 Improvements from BJJ:  Looking at life differently

Instead of looking at life as a narrowing funnel, we can see it ever widening to choose the things we want to do, to take the wisdom we’ve learned and create something. – Liz Carpenter

Jiu Jitsu has given me a different perspective on life. Some minor changes, and some major. This was coupled with losing a lot of weight.

Some small perspective shifts: details for keeping myself safer: tucking in elbows and bracing myself on the train; sometimes what is intuitive is not the best course of action; ways of efficiently carrying heavy bags.

Others perspectives took me by surprise. In the past, I never would have dated an athlete, or any man with a great looking body. In the past, those were the men not to be trusted. But, I was a very large woman who cosplayed – the emotional risk was not worth it. Now, I would likely not date a man who was fat because in my mind he probably does not have a lifestyle compatible with mine. (Please note: of course there may be exceptions, but this would be my general attitude.) That is such a huge shift. I know on weight loss forums, many often feel offended or upset that people now find them attractive whereas when they were much larger they did not. Personally, I don’t really care – people are attracted to different body types, and if I see a guy who has a fit body, I know that we likely have an aspect of life in common.

"For boys"? Hardly! For JIU JITSU FOLKS!

“For boys”? Hardly! For JIU JITSU FOLKS!

I interact with people differently – I remember the first time having a boyfriend after doing jiu jitsu and feeling REALLY uncomfortable NOT sweeping him off me – because I had the underhook! Or he drapes an arm around my neck and I block the choke.

And finally, I am much more aware of sexism in advertising, in language, and in general. When I look at a picture of a jiu jitsu class, I immediately look for how many women are pictured. I notice how people talk to female athletes. I note the use of the word “girl” to refer to a woman in jiu jitsu. I take notice of the male to female ratio, of intentionally including more women, of people either supporting/fostering women in our sport, or subtley or not-so-subtley dismissing/othering/alienating women. I don’t specifically look for it – it’s there, and I mentally collate that data.

Jiu Jiu’s Question: How has jiu jitsu (or your sport) shifted your perspective? What things do you notice differently now?