Jiu Jitsu has proven to be a catalyst of transformation in so many people’s lives. Over and over we hear one inspirational success story after another. From the underdog rising to victory, being able to overcome physical, emotional, and mental barriers, to Jiu Jitsu being the vehicle out of poverty. The transformation in people’s lives through the art of Jiu Jitsu is undeniable. I have experienced such transformation in my own life and have the privilege to continually witness it first-hand in my students and coaching team. But what is it about Jiu Jitsu that is so transformational?
Jiu Jitsu by nature throws us into vulnerable and uncomfortable positions where we wrestle head-on with our own limitations. It is on the mat where we come face-to-face with our personal challenges and push past what has previously held us back. But what makes Jiu Jitsu so extraordinary is the community and BJJ family you find there. It is in a supportive BJJ community that allows us to consistently come to that place of vulnerability where we learn and progress. Essentially it is relationships that transform.
Coming to the U.S. in 2004, with my family living in Brazil, I found myself without an immediate community and attempting to navigate a new culture and customs all alone. I lost no time in finding a gym to continue my Jiu Jitsu training. It was there that I met many friends who helped me learn the ropes in this new city and encouraged me to go after my dream of teaching and coaching Jiu Jitsu for a living. They are still my close friends today, 15 years later. Jiu Jitsu connects us with lifelong friends to go through the ups and downs of life together; celebrating the successes and helping us to keep going through setbacks.
As much as I appreciate the time on the mat in a gi, it is those moments outside of the class time that are the most critical. Where I have seen the most incredible transformations take place in people’s lives is on the benches off to the side of the mats and in the locker rooms. It is during the side-talks 15 to 20 minutes after class. There is no denying that when we fall into an unfavorable position while rolling, we are offered an effective tool to grow emotionally and physically. However, it is a supportive training environment with encouraging teammates that facilitates the beautiful art of Jiu Jitsu to truly shine. It is in this collaborative culture that allows us to face challenges, grow stronger and progress further in the face of adversity than if we were to go it alone.
The academy is a place to connect with others and make friends. It is a place where students and parents come to leave behind the stress from their work day and decompress before transitioning home for the evening. With busy schedules where it often requires weeks of scheduling in advance to find a time to meet up with an old friend, the academy is a constant place where you can walk in and meet-up with friends any day of the week.
The art of Jiu Jitsu and the community at the academy has a huge impact in our own lives and the lives of our family members. But you also have a huge impact in other people’s lives at the academy. Every time you walk through the doors, you have an opportunity to be a positive influence for someone else. Just a simple “hi, how are you?” can be the one interaction that transforms your teammate’s life. It may not necessarily be the technique I taught in class that day but rather a small gesture of acknowledgement that has the power to unlock a smile. And it is amazing that in the process of reaching out to others we ourselves are also blessed and transformed.
This is why I encourage all of my students to hang out after class. I see a huge difference in the students who stay a little longer. It is in those 15 to 20 minutes before, but even more after class, once you have the chance to decompress and leave it all on the mat, where relationships are built and breakthroughs happen.
The theme of our academy is that it is not about Jiu Jitsu. It is about the connections and relationships made through Jiu Jitsu. I have seen little else rival the mats of Jiu Jitsu in creating an environment that transforms lives. This is the Jiu Jitsu experience. And I guarantee that this will be a game changer for your life.
– Professor Tony Passos