I felt like the poor goat from Jurassic Park that was slowly released into the wilderness only to be devoured by a Tyrannosaurus Rex.
Sporting a blinding bright white jiu-jitsu uniform, I stepped into the dojo nervous as hell on the inside but Stone Cold Steve Austin on the outside.
Act cool. Act as if you were a second cousin of the Gracie family. The class, comprised mostly of amateur MMA fighters, looked at me like a piece of fresh meat.
My bro and I had prepared for this moment by drilling moves off of YouTube on a 9-piece puzzle mat purchased from Walmart.
These dudes were about to get choked out.
A failed plan
Our cover was blown immediately as my bro whispered over to me for help tying his belt. I had practiced repeatedly the night before, studying belt tying methods on the internet. I didn’t want to be that guy asking the instructor to dress me. Instead, my little bro was that guy. With my arms around his belt, it was as if I was dressing up my little bro and sending him off to prom for the first time. This was not the time nor place for expressing brotherly love.
Warm-ups began with laps around the gym as I tried to reclaim my tough guy persona much like a newly admitted prisoner would while walking the halls for the first time in Pelican Bay State Prison.
Mr. Tough Guy went out the window as I started laughing uncontrollably when I noticed that my brother’s pants were on backwards. I’m not sure how he managed to do that but hilarious nonetheless.
We began drilling moves and some of the advanced students didn’t get the memo that they were expected to take it easy on the newbies.
My brother had half of his toenail bent backwards while drilling a move. Pants backward and bloodied with a dangling toenail, he hobbled off of the mat to conceal the wound. His partner waited impatiently to return to the action while my brother slowwwly taped his toe.
I was so lucky to be paired with a Royce Gracie wannabe on steroids as this guy seemed to be following the mantra straight out of the Cobra Kai handbook: “Strike first, strike hard, no mercy sir!” I was thrown to the mat immediately and slapped with an omaplata (shoulder lock), tearing a muscle in my right shoulder.
It happened so abruptly that I forgot to tap out, but my girlish scream would instead substitute for a submission tap. I played it off and tried to hide the pain as much as I could which is what we manly men do. My shoulder hasn’t been the same since.
Persistence pays off
I considered calling it quits after about the sixth class. How much fun could it possibly be getting beat up day in and day out?
I decided to continue however, and after about the fifteenth class, something happened. I was able to defend myself and began picking up the fundamentals while gaining confidence. Most importantly, I started to enjoy my training sessions.
I was completely hooked on the sport after throwing down a few submissions and acquiring the knowledge to prevent these beasts from tearing yet another muscle.
Battered and bruised during those first few months, I showed up to my IT job providing desktop support while my customers cringed as I typed away on their keyboards with my bandaged and bloodied knuckles. One coworker asked if I was part of an underground fight club.
As the great Rocky Balboa once said, “It ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done.”
There’s nothing more invigorating than voluntarily choosing to get the sh*t kicked out of you both physically and mentally on a daily basis and having the perseverance and resilience to keep coming back for more while trying to improve every single day.
Jiu-jitsu taught me how to persevere and that you need to stick with something long enough to grasp the fundamentals in order to create a level of comfort that allows you to enjoy what you are doing.
Starting is the Hardest Part
Jumping into computer programming can be brutal in the beginning until you drop your first “Hello, world!” program and it all starts to click.
Learning how to draw can be frustrating at first until you’re able to successfully craft that first perspective 3-dimensional object that pops on paper.
The intricacies of photography are tricky until you capture that one extraordinary photo which captures something magical and tugs at the heartstrings.
When learning something new, the scariest moment is always right before you start. Take the first step and give it time to establish a level of comfortability. Be consistent with your routine and the rest will fall into place.