I get body slammed on my face. Then next thing I know, I have been twisted into a human pretzel. My arm is being pulled one way then the other and I am hanging on for dear life until eventually all hope is lost. I tap. Take a deep breath. Then get right back to it. This has been what my Tuesday and Thursday nights have consisted of for the last month since starting at South Bend’s Ribeiro Jiu-Jitsu. I have been humbled in ways I could have never imagined and have also been tapped out in more ways than I can keep count. Even with all that struggle and zero success, and by the way, I mean zero success, I am thrilled I entered the cruel, ego-crushing world that is jiu-jitsu.
For the last year and a half, I’ve wanted to start jiu-jitsu. Guys like Jocko Willink, Joe Rogan and Lex Fridman have been preaching the profound impact it has had on their lives on their podcasts for years and I was convinced it would be a great idea for me to try it out. Jiu- jitsu helps you learn to defend yourself while avoiding serious head injuries, thanks to its practice of no striking. To me, that was a no brainer. Everyone should learn to defend themselves for their own sake and those around them. In addition, it would be a great way for me to get active a couple times a week outside of weightlifting. Even with this logic sitting in my brain for a while, I managed to push off my start date with ridiculous excuses. First, it was having no car, even though Uber was an obvious solution. Then, it was not wanting to start for a couple of months and have nowhere in the summer to train. Then, I thought I should focus on weightlifting even though I had plenty of time to do both. Finally, in late October, I decided enough was enough and called up Ribeiro to get started. Over the last month, I have learned a lot, but I wish I had a year and a half of experience instead of just a month. Even with that regret in mind, I am just happy that I started. I have learned plenty in just a month’s time and am excited to see where I can go in the future as I continue training. While most of my learning has come from getting chucked around the mat and getting tied into a human bow, I’m glad I know my current limitations and knowledge of fighting than be living in ignorance of what a trained mixed martial artist is capable of.
Now that I have started jiu-jitsu, I have come to realize how wasteful it is to not try new activities that I’m interested in. As with anything new in life, I was reluctant to jump in and get started. I researched the pros and cons a million times and found just about any excuse to leave it until later. While I would still advise doing some quick research on anything new you’re adding into your life, this game of researching until you can be absolutely convinced it’s right, is a complete wash. At the end of the day, you can’t ever be fully convinced of something until it’s put into practice. Unless you’re planning on trying something that can cause severe damage to you on day one, then you might as well just give it a shot and see what it’s like. Let me put it this way. I could be the one tying noobs into pretzels by now, but instead I am the noob dancing around the mat and tapping out 20 times a class. And believe me, I would much rather be in the other guy’s shoes every once in a while.
With that said, I urge anyone reading this to try out something you’ve been putting off, whatever it may be. Join a club, read the book, take the elective, hit the weights. Assuming it’s not something obviously detrimental to yourself or those around you, I don’t care what it is, but give it a go. It may not pan out, but sticking with the same stuff limits growth and leaves you in the same spot you started in. Those with the highest expertise in any field are constantly adding skills to their repertoire in order to stay at the top. Whether it is Jayson Tatum adding a floater to score more efficiently at the rim or Patrick Mahomes mixing in a flip pass when the entire defensive line is closing in on him, these small additions to your own capabilities can make you a more complete athlete, artist, person or whatever it may be.
So try it out. Pick something you have wanted to do and just go for it. Think about it like this. If my new experience involves getting arm barred and triangle choked and I am enjoying it, most other activities should be fine, or less painful at the very least.
Mikey Colgan is a sophomore from Boston majoring in finance and ACMS. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.