Why You Should Start BJJ

Posted on 11/6/19 by Matt Leatherwood | Revolution Dojo

Why You Should Start BJJ

Why You Should Start BJJ

I hate working out. Running is the worst. Weights are heavy. For whatever reason, my own personal health wasn’t enough motivation to do any of the above over the last half decade. I used to play pick-up basketball, but my ankle exploded (really bad sprain) seven years ago, and I haven’t played since. Basketball was fun because it was competitive and made me forget that I was working out. With it gone, I just did nothing. I watched TV and played video games with all my free time. I slowly melted into the couch and thought I would never get up.

The Reasons I Started BJJ

This all led to me getting fat. Gross fat. My doctor weighed me at 260 lbs. in October 2018. I may have not have been at a super-obese level, but nothing in my life was healthy. I thought eating smart was having three pieces of pizza instead of four. There were probably many weeks where I did not touch a green vegetable unless jalapeno ranch dressing counts. My ADD medicine stopped working effectively. When I asked my doctor about upping the dosage, he said (paraphrasing), “you’re fat and no amount of medicine will work if you behave like a sloth.” Again, paraphrasing.

My friend had been training BJJ at Revolution for a couple of years and periodically bugged me about coming to a class. It always sounded like fun, but putting effort into anything wasn’t really my thing at the time. In February 2019, he finally got me to show up downtown at 6 am. I was not hooked instantly, but I got through the first few weeks as an excuse to hang out with him more. This friend was the best man in my wedding; one of my best friends since fifth grade. We had not been hanging out a lot at the time because we live on different sides of town and both have young children.

BJJ Changed My Life

Once I started getting in shape (and stopped puking), I started to get the feeling I had when playing basketball. I wasn’t working out; I was doing something I enjoyed. My friend even got injured and was out for several months, and I kept on showing up. It eventually got to the point where I was going every weekday morning. I was hooked, and the best part is that I was training with other people who were hooked as well. The friendships I have made from that 6 am class are very important to me.

The one thing I did not expect was for BJJ to start making me want to do the types of exercises that I hate (see first three sentences of this blog entry). I want to get better. As I started losing weight, I noticed a lot of my strength left with it, and I was getting nicked up training every day. I started a power lifting program two months ago to supplement my BJJ that I feel has improved my overall game, and kept me healthy and on the mat.

How BJJ Helped Me Get Healthy

When at my lowest weight since beginning BJJ, I had lost 54 lbs. through eating well and training. I have put on several pounds of muscle since then and am hovering around 213 lbs. At the beginning of weight training, I could barely squat 135 five times, but this morning I put up 275 for three sets of five. There is still is a long way to go, but I am proud as hell of my progress. My endurance at work is great. My ADD medicine works again. I am not exhausted after work so I have the energy to play with my two wonderful boys. The stress from day-to-day pressures doesn’t get to me anymore. If I can survive Toby Mills’s top pressure every morning, little personal pressures cannot affect my mental state.

At the same time, I didn’t do this for my health in the beginning. All the healthy improvements in my life are attributed to one thing: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. I am in deep. It makes video games and movies boring, because that time could be spent training. I have never had anything challenge me both physically and mentally the way BJJ does. I love the smell of the gym. I love the pecking order in the gym. I love that the guys high up on the pecking order always take time to help me out. I love my new friends. I love choking, or attempting to choke, said new friends. I love the fact that our coaches sacrifice a lot to train and teach BJJ. I love that it can make working out not feel like working out.

Thank You For Introducing BJJ

There are three people that have helped me with the beginning of my BJJ journey: First, my wife who meal plans, takes the boys to school, and has never stopped supporting me even when I try to practice my RNC on her while she is cooking. Also, my best friend, who introduced me to BJJ, wrote my lifting plan, keeps me accountable, and motivates me to get better so one day I can maybe choke him. Last but not least, my 6 am coach, who leads by example and has sacrificed his time and money to train BJJ full-time. He may not be the most vocal leader, but his actions speak volumes.

I love BJJ. I think you would love it too if you gave it a try.

Jeff Messina

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