AFG :: Emma’s Jiu-jitsu Journey


Hi everyone, my name’s Emma, and I’ve been training for almost two years now….

Hi everyone, my name’s Emma, and I’ve been training for almost two years now. When I started training, I only worked out once or twice a week, but I’m up to 6 days a week now. My daily routine is usually spent at school for half of the day, and the gym the other half. For the past two years, it’s been routine to find myself alternately battling exams and determined opponents in competitions back-to-back, often in the same week.

When I first found out about Jiu-jitsu, I was very intrigued by it. All the fighting matches I’ve previously watched, from boxing matches to kung-fu battles, are always upright forms of martial arts. With these fighting styles, fighters hit their opponents with their limbs, and once one fighter drops to the ground, he/she loses. However, when I first came across Jiu-Jitsu, I saw Jiu-Jitsu martial artists fighting from the ground, or trying to topple their opponents by locking their joints into submission. It was a totally new perspective on fighting for me, since my background was originally grounded in Wushu, which traditionally favours fist-fighting over grappling or throwing.

Learning Jiu-jitsu was akin to learning how to dance from scratch again for me. I trained and competed in Latin dance for a few years when I was in grade school. Most of the techniques related to Latin dance deal with the fluidity of body movements, so I had to learn to move my body in ways I didn’t know my body was capable of. In a similar fashion, I had to adjust my body to the rhythms of Jiu-jitsu’s movements, like learning to invert myself, for example. It took some time to understand how to move my hips and body in terms of fighting from the ground. Understanding the mechanics of Jiu-jitsu through dance helped me to learn faster, since the school where I study Jiu-jitsu at emphasizes a deeper understanding of the origins and evolution of Jiu-jitsu’s movements and techniques.

When I first started Jiu-jitsu, one of the struggles I had to overcome was to successfully spar with male opponents, some much heavier and stronger than I was. After getting defeated numerous times, I learned to deal with this challenge by “framing” myself well enough to prevent anyone using their weight on me. Another difficulty I’ve had to overcome is struggling with burnt-out grips to the point where I can barely feel my hands and fingers. When performing Jiu-jitsu in the gi, one of the hardest tasks is maintaining the grips. After training a while, however, I managed to gain very strong grips which also helped with me everyday tasks outside training.

I have also observed great improvements in my state of health, fitness levels, diet, mind-set, focus and willpower. I push myself harder physically when I need to. When I trained in Brazil, I saw women in their 40s and 50s in top shape effectively employing their Jiu-jitsu skills against some of the younger male fighters, and often winning. I was impressed with what I saw in Brazil, and I have taken the example of these women to heart in terms of my training regimen.

At first, Jiu-jitsu was a secondary interest for me. However, after training for some time, I’ve been able to meet some really wonderful and inspirational people worldwide through this sport. Looking back, I marvel at how much I have changed as a person since I began Jiu-jitsu. I have fallen in love with Jiu-jitsu- I love its movements, its fury, its grace. I love the fact that a small person like me can control, match and even defeat much bigger and more aggressive opponents. I have learned so many things from Jiu-jitsu about my strengths and weaknesses, and how much further I am able to push myself physically and mentally.

I can now reach stages of strength, speed, skill and willpower I never believed I was capable of. I competed with a freshly broken finger (caused by an accident during training just a few days before my trip) at the World Professional Championships in Abu Dhabi back in 2015, and still managed to win matches all the way to the finals. The sacrifices I’ve made, the tears, blood, and sweat I’ve shed and the bones I’ve broken throughout training and competition all have matured me as a person throughout the process of learning and mastering Jiu-jitsu.

I highly recommend Jiu-jitsu training as one of the best workouts ever! It is excellent for developing an enhanced state of mind, and helps you connect with a spiritual side as well. Girls and women should definitely give Jiu-jitsu a try, and not feel intimidated. It is invaluable for women and girls to learn how smaller people can learn to defend themselves from larger, more aggressive opponents through using Jiu-jitsu techniques and movements. Most importantly, those who try will start to observe many improvements in their lives, and the sport never fails to excite the senses and motivate willpower! Find a Jiu-jitsu school nearest you, and begin your journey into the wonderful world of Jiu-jitsu!

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