How Training Martial Arts Changed My Life

How Training Martial Arts Changed My Life

I train to the limit so that I do not have to push myself in the street.
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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.

Cover Image Credit: Robert Breuer

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To The Boy Who Will Love Me Next

If you can't understand these few things, leave before things get too involved
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To the boy that will love me next, I need you to know and understand things about me and my past. The things I have been though not only have shaped the person I’ve become, but also sometimes controls my life. In the past I’ve been used, abused, and taken for granted, and I want something real this time. The guys before you were just boys; they didn’t know how to treat me until it was too late. They didn’t understand how to love me, until I broke my own heart. Before you truly decide to love me I want you to understand these things.

When I tell you something, please listen.

I’m my own person, I want to be loved a certain way. If I ask you to come over and watch movies with me please do it, if I ask for you to leave me alone for a few hours because it’s a girl’s night please do it. I don’t just say things to hear my own voice, I say things to you because it’s important to my life and the way I want to be loved. I’m not a needy person when it comes to being loved and cared for, but I do ask for you to do the small things that I am say.

Forgive my past.

My past is not a pretty brick road, it is a highway that has a bunch of potholes and cracks in it. I have a lot of baggage, and most of it you won’t understand. But don’t let my past decided whether you want to love me or not. My past has helped form who I am today, but it does not define who I am. My past experiences might try and make an appearance every once in a while, but I will not go back to that person I once was, I will not return to all that hurt I once went though. When I say those things, I’m telling the complete and honest truth. I relive my past every day, somethings haunt me and somethings are good reminds. But for you to love me, I need you to accept my past, present and future.

I’m just another bro to the other guys.

I have always hung out with boys, I don’t fit in with the girl groups. I have 10 close girlfriends, but the majority of my friends are guy, but don’t let this scare you. If I wanted to be with one of my guy friends I would already be with him, and if you haven’t noticed I don’t want them because I’m with you. I will not lose my friendships with all my guy friends to be able to stay with you. I will not cut off ties because you don’t like my guy friends. I have lost too many buddies because of my ex-boyfriends and I promised myself I wouldn’t do that again. If you don’t like how many guy friends I have you can leave now. Don’t bother trying to date me if you can accept the fact I’m just another bro.

I might be a badass, but I actually have a big heart.

To a lot of people I come off to be a very crazy and wild girl. I will agree I can be crazy and wild, but I’m more than that. I’m independent, caring, responsible, understanding, forgiving, and so such more type of woman. Many people think that I’m a badass because I don’t take any negatively from anyone. Just like we learned when we were younger, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all.” Most people can’t do that in today’s world, so I stick up for myself and my friends. I don’t care what anyone thinks about me, or their option on how I live my life. The only thing I care about is being able to make myself happy. Even though I’m an independent woman, understand that I do have a big heart. Honesty when I truly care for someone I will do just about anything they ask, but don’t take advantage of this. Once you take advantage of this part of me, all respect will be lost for you.

I’m hard to love.

Sometimes I want to be cuddle and get attention, and sometimes I don’t want you to talk to me for a couple hours. Sometimes I want you to take me out for a nice meal, but sometimes I want a home cooked meal. Every day is different for me, sometimes I change my mind every hour. My mood swings are terrible on certain days, and on those days you should probably just ignore me. I’m not easy to love, so you’ll either be willing to find a way to love me, or you’ll walk out like so many others have.

I’m scared.

I’m scared to love someone again. I’ve been hurt, heartbroken, and beat to the ground in my past relationships. I want to believe you are different, I want to hope things will truly work out, but every relationship has always ended up the same way. I’m scared to trust someone, put my whole heart into them, just to be left and heartbroken again. I sick and tired of putting my whole body and soul into someone for them to just leave when it is convenient for them. If you want to love me, understand it won’t be easy for me to love you back.

When “I’m done.”

When I say “I’m done” I honestly don’t mean that I’m done. When I say that it means I need and want you to fight for me, show me why you want to be with me. I need you to prove that I’m worth it and there’s no one else but me. If I was truly done, I would just walk away, and not come back. So if I ever tell you, “I’m done,” tell me all the reasons why I’m truly not done.

For the boy who will love me next, the work is cut out for you, you just have to be willing to do it. I’m not like other girls, I am my own person, and I will need to be treated as such. For the boy that will love me next, don’t bother with me unless you really want to be with me. I don’t have time to waste on you if you aren’t going to try and make something out of us. To the boy who will love me next, the last thing I would like to say is good luck, I have faith in you.

Cover Image Credit: Danielle Balint

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The Heart Of A Champion: Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods inspires millions with fifth Masters title and the comeback of a lifetime.

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Tiger Woods. What do you think of when you hear that name?

For me, it is golf, champion, goat. Tiger Woods rose to success and won his first masters in 1997. The hunt was on, and the mission, be the best golfer the of all time. But Tiger's story started long before the 1997 masters it began as a toddler learning the basics of golf from his father at the ripe young age of 3 years old.

At that age, Tiger had one dream. Become a better golfer than Jack Nicklaus. With this win in 1997 Tiger began his quest to be the greatest of all time. He picked up back to back masters wins in 2001 and 2002 and a fourth in 2005 tying that of famed golfer Arnold Palmer. Along the way, he picked up 14 major championships as captivated audiences everywhere. Tiger put golf on the map in the 2000s and brought new energy and a new attitude towards the game.

Suddenly at the pinnacle of Tiger's success and as many thought, he would soon surpass Jack Nicklaus tragedy struck. On Thanksgiving of 2009, Tiger was in a car accident that was caused in part by his wife discovering that he had been cheating on her. This was only the beginning for Tiger's downward spiral. As more and more mistresses came out claiming to have slept with the golfer and being caught driving under the influence, his reputation and image continued to be tarnished.

When Tiger finally returned to golfing he just was not the same.

He lacked passion, excitement enthusiasm. He was just plain bad. He missed putts, drove balls into the woods and was facing competition tougher than ever. He was among a host of new faces in the PGA. Professionals that had grown up inspired by Tiger and not afraid to challenge him. Tiger would go on an eleven-year drought without winning a single major competition and had many believing Tiger would never return to the dominance he once held. With numerous nagging injuries, it seemed that all hope for Tiger's return and his lifelong goal of beating Jack Nicklaus and becoming the best golfer in history seemed utterly unattainable.

However, after five years winless in PGA tours, in September of 2018, Tiger wings a tour and had many speculators wondering if Tiger was on his return. Tiger went into Augusta this past weekend at 12th in the world and from the beginning of the tour on Thursday all eyes were on Tiger. He seemed laser focused and played with a determination we had not seen from Tiger in over a decade.

As the final round on Sunday approached Tiger had placed himself in the running tied for second place. Sunday it was Tiger's day. He came dressed in the classic red shirt that he wears on every Sunday at the Masters and there was a feeling that it was Tiger's show. Sunday he came in poised and determined to win and played with a passion that only Tiger has. He was gaining roars from the crowd with each stroke. Finally, after 11 years Tiger had done it. He won his fifth masters only one behind Jack Nicklaus and first major in 11 years.

On Sunday Tiger taught us to never give up on a dream and that through adversity and hard times you that through hard work and dedication you can still be the best.

Battling through the injuries, the scrutiny and the tarnished reputation Tiger was able to once again inspire millions and show that we are all humans we all make mistakes and he taught us to apologize for our mistakes, learn from them, make you better and that everyone deserves a second chance because nobody is perfect but through hard work, determination, the drive to never give up and having passion for what you do and understanding that you do make mistakes and how you learn from them showed millions of fans young and old that you can do anything you set your mind to.

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