I really enjoyed being a kid: the first Star Wars movies and playing in the park with friends. Now I’m an adult (definitely not grown up!) I remember how good those times were. One thing I have realised recently though is that BJJ can give you some of that back. Yes BJJ can take you back to being a kid.
Kids are always asking questions, trying to understand and discover new things. This is something we can lose as we move into adulthood. BJJ creates an environment that stimulates the brain back to that childlike mind set of questioning and seeking. Almost giving you back your youthful mind, unfortunately it doesn’t have the same effect on the outside. Just like when you were kid everything was new and you were learning by experience. This is what stepping onto the mat is like. It doesn’t have the same pressure as learning for college or work. There is no exam or boss that is going to judge you, just you getting to understand how things work. Also for a lot of us it is getting to learn how your body works again. Having sat at a desk for many years, learning how to do an inversion drill was interesting to say the least.
Also BJJ can give your mind an opportunity to relax. As we become adults we get more responsibilities, bills, family and work. These can all set our mind racing, worrying about a deadline at work or what’s happening at school with your own little ones. I can’t remember worrying about anything when I was a kid, excepting making it home to watch my favourite TV show. Training gives us this opportunity to not have to worry, but let go of the adulthood pressures and enjoy what is happening right now. Just like when were kids.
When you were a kid having fun was the most important thing. Why do anything if it wasn’t fun? (Other than eat your greens because you were told to). Training BJJ is like a play time. You dress up in cool PJs and get to roll around with your friends. Getting sweaty and having a laugh. The big bonus this time around is you don’t get told off for getting your clothes dirty.
I have worked with kids and one of the great things is they can make a competition out of anything and have fun doing it. But then the importance of being the winner disappears and is forgotten really quickly. When we as adults get competitive on the mat, even with training partners, it can border on being antagonistic. Adults can easily allow training to cross the invisible line separating fun competitiveness from taking it personally. Kids have a way of letting this sort of stuff go really quickly. If training is to remain fun and enjoyable this is a trait we would do well to bring back from our youth.
Finally don’t take yourself too seriously. Kids don’t take themselves seriously, they are always goofing around. As a beginner, especially you have to be prepared to look a little dumb trying techniques for the first time. (Inversion drills!!). We will all look silly at one point or another and the important thing is to be able to laugh at yourself through it. If you are not prepared to do this, you probably won’t get as much out of your training as you could. Just being able to have a go and see what happens is a big part of learning for jiu jitsu.
Most of us will look back on our childhood and remember how fun it was. BJJ can give you this back to a degree, so enjoy this aspect of your training and remember how great it was to have fun.