The other night I went to my first Brazilian jui jitsu class. I know nothing of the sport, I don’t watch MMA and I knew I would be terrible but I went anyway.
I felt like an idiot and was nervous and didn’t want to go through with it but I did. You know why? Because I embraced the suck. Plus, from all the buzz I’ve heard around the sport from MMA practitioners, to Joe Rogan, Robb Wolf and others it seems like it’s a good thing to try with lots of benefits.
What is embracing the suck you ask? That’s the beginning phase of almost any endeavor. It’s when you have no idea what you’re doing, embarrass yourself, do the wrong thing or go the wrong way and fail repeatedly. Typically it’s starting a new task where you feel like you’re staring down a mountain of new techniques, skills and you feel you’ll never understand them all.
The suck is hard, trying and scary. But if you can make friends with the suck you can reap the rewards that come during and after going through it. The rewards that come only from doing difficult things, embracing difficult and uncomfortable situations and learning and growing from them.
New things are always tough and we are almost always fearful of the unknown. But as wise humans we can make peace with this ahead of time. We can embrace this fear and accept this beginning period as a right of passage that we all must go through to gain the knowledge and skills we so desire.
As for my experience as a beginner in BJJ, it turned out to be a great. Although I felt intimidated and nervous I’m extremely glad I stayed. The gym understood what it was like to be new and took care of me as a beginner and paired me up with someone more experienced to walk me through the warmup, skill and finally rolling (free sparring against one another).
While the instructor was awesome, it was my partner who helped me the most. My partner took his time explaining the movements when I didn’t understand things (which was most of the time) and let me practice side control and an americana submission over and over to get the movement.
Finally when we rolled and after I would make a successful move my partner would congratulate me, let me know why that move was successful and then let me know where my weaknesses were and what he would be attacking next. He was very generous with his knowledge and that made the class amazing. In addition to this he wasn’t trying to tear my arms out of their sockets or injure me either.
My first impressions are very positive. I’ve heard BJJ is like human chess and I quickly got that feeling as I worked through movements as well as when we were rolling together. My brain wanted to think through all the possible ways to submit my opponent and although that list only had one item it currently (the americana) it was still a lot of fun.
From here I have a few more classes to try as a trial and if I continue on with this seriously I know that failure will be a close friend. I’m going to fail, repeatedly while learning. But I’m also going to get back up every time I get knocked down or submitted and never stop trying. This is the counterpart to failure. You cannot fail unless you give up. And I’ll never give up.
Is there something in your life you want to do but are too scared to try? I say line it up. Try it. Don’t let fear of failure or of looking a little silly stop you. Embrace the suck and your life will change for the better.