Continuing in my series about why I am grateful to have Jiu Jitsu in my life. If you haven’t read it, you may be interested in reading Part 1: Losing Myself. Again, I’d also love to hear your stories, or feel free to link to them.

Reason Number Two: Community

And yes, I am specifically talking about the BJJ community, but even more so the BJJ blogging community. And even more so the BJJ women’s blogging community. We’re a tiny community inside a tiny community inside a tiny community. Kind of like a matryoshka of awesomeness.

It’s so easy to feel alone when you’re the only woman at your school doing BJJ. Or when you’re only one of two. Or when you rarely see women doing BJJ in your community. I still remember when I started BJJ I went through and read all the women’s blogs I could find and I found it so refreshing when they would admit the emotions they were feeling. I’ve had the same reaction when I posted my emotions here on the blog.

When I started, I was a big gal. Most of the guys at my gym weight – maybe 160. I was 205 and short. And not athletic. I looked at everyone and knew I couldn’t do any of this stuff. I couldn’t shrimp, I couldn’t run, I could barely keep up. When the instructor would show us a move I felt SO STUPID. Nothing he showed made sense to me. It was like a Russian major in a German class. Or a flute player trying to play a tuba. I felt dumb. Specifically I felt body dumb. It was really hard that I also didn’t know Korean AND I didn’t know jiu jitsu language. So I felt like a dumb, fat girl.

But I kept coming back. Eventually I felt not so dumb. Eventually I lost size. But I kept going. And the thing that made me feel so amazing was connecting with people online. You guys are a fantastic community. In fact, what inspired this was my page view going from about 100 per day to 466 because of our very own abrandao! 🙂 He posted about my blog on an online health magazine in an article called “5 Tips to get out of inertia” well, that’s what google translate told me. [I don’t know if it’s correct, but if you’re visiting from Brazil, Olá da Coréia!] In it he suggested making a blog. Here’s what he wrote about mine:

One of the blogs that I read more, oddly enough, is an American, chubby and very friendly, white belt in jiu-jitsu. It’s amazing how she can always show me a new way of seeing something I’ve been doing for much longer than her. People have different perceptions about it, share it magnifies the whole world.”

Sincerely – getting to read the various perceptions about BJJ – getting to feel that other people are feeling the same thing I do – getting the accountability from others – getting different opinions about the same thing – that’s what helped me through this.

And finally, the chance to meet real people. I’ve made some great friends in the past year. Some of these have transitioned off the blogosphere. I’ve had wonderful online chats with Georgette, I got to meet Caleb from TheFightWorksPodcast, when I went on my BJJ vacation, I had a chance to meet several of the folks from Jiu Jitsu Forums, and in January I get the opportunity to make one more in real life BJJ female friend.

From January 22-28 I will be going on a vacation to meet a BJJ blogger. To where? Let me drop some hints.

Can't get where I'm going?

Wait - you STILL can't get where I'm going?

Get it - cupcake, armbar...

That’s right – I’M GOING TO MALAYSIA TO VISIT CUPCAKEARMBAR!!!!! [psst if you want to use the pic it’s okay – I photochopped it myself] It started out as a back and forth on her blog – she mentioned going to the Thailand Open and I said I should meet her there – then I got it in my head to look up prices for tickets to Malaysia and sure enough – she was excited and the price was right – $300 round trip. The next day the prices went up to $586. I’ll be there over Chinese new year, staying with a local Chinese resident, feasting. She’s a BJJ blue belt as well – and I’m SO EXCITED to meet her.

So that is reason #2 of why I’m so grateful for Jiu Jitsu.

Which friends have you made through Jiu Jitsu? Have any of these transitioned off the mats/off the Interwebs into something even, gasp, non-Jiu Jitsu related?