Today I train Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, but I have only joined this sport recently. I wish I had joined earlier. This is because going through school with students from the bad part of town makes knowing self-defense a necessity. If I had known in middle school what I know now about standing up for myself and self-defense, I would not have gotten jumped and had my arm broken. In high school, I could have put up with the guys who called me names and threatened me. I could have taken care of myself not because I know a few chokes and leg sweeps, but I would take care of myself because the sport I train in teaches me how to be comfortable when situations are bad and how to get out of them.

I was always an athlete and a smart kid growing up. I still love to be active and play just as much as I did when I was young. Back then, I was smaller than the other students, and my parents always liked to say that I was different or that I thought outside of the box. This made me an easy target for bullies because I stood out.

To remedy this after some hard run-ins with bullies in middle and high school, I started to learn Kung Fu. It was a great experience for me because I started to learn how to discipline myself by using self-defense. I trained every week and the benefits were apparent. My posture got better, I was more confident in social situations, and I became stronger. Kung Fu became a passion, but it lacked the intensity that Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has taught me as an adult.

After completing two years of Kung Fu and time spent as a student-athlete in community college, I was getting out of shape and looking for something to keep me feeling good. My grades were always better when I worked out and I thought more clearly when writing a paper or doing research. When a friend invited me to try a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class, I took him up on that offer thinking that it would be a great way for me to discipline myself and stay in shape. When I got to the class, I thought the gym looked like martial art Disneyland.

I was so impressed with all of the space and exercise equipment that I had high hopes for the workout. After practicing Jiu-Jitsu for the first time, I knew that I was onto something great. Jiu Jitsu puts an opponent right across from you with the goal of making one another tap out. As a college athlete who possessed a little martial arts experience, I took to the challenge well and gave all of my opponents a fair fight. Even if I won by making my opponent tap out or lost by tapping out, I would have a good time putting up a fight. Knowing that I loved the sport for what it was, I knew I could stick with Jiu Jitsu and grow with my training.

As of today, I have been in Jiu Jitsu for almost seven months. In those seven months, I have trained up to six days a week. I also attended my first competition where I beat a few opponents and managed to take second place after losing to a teammate. This Jiu-Jitsu competition was the hardest sporting event that I have ever competed in, and that is after a few years as a college long distance runner. I love training, competing, and growing in Jiu Jitsu. I will win and lose, but more experienced people are there for me to challenge and to make the adversity worth the struggle. I am going to continue training until I am the best possible person I can be.

After all of this combat training, I have never been in a real fight. I am still the same person at heart as I was in middle school, but I do not have to face the same discomfort on campus or living my everyday life. The bullies that plagued me daily because I was an easy target will look at the man I have become and see someone who is confident in himself and who can take care of himself when put into a dangerous position.

Through training in combat sports, I put myself through struggles against good people trying to become better so that I could go out into real life and take care of the people who try and make my life worse. I have dealt with the insults and have overcome the pain of bullying and I will not go back. Now bullies look at me and tell me how arrogant I am, but they cannot hurt me. I would much rather have someone think they can insult me than think they can jump me.I work hard on becoming the best version of myself. Not everyone may like me, but I like me and I love the sport I do. That allows me to go to bed at night sore and sleep well with a smile on my face.