2x European Champion, Emilia Tuukkanen shares some home truths about being a competitor.
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Doing any kind of sport will change your physical appearance – and jiu jitsu is no different. You will most likely lose some fat, gain muscle, be able to walk stairs without gasping for air (while limping from last night’s quick toe hold) and feel more athletic and healthy in every way.
But, how does a demanding martial art like jiu jitsu change the way you think about yourself and others?
1. You will become more self-confident.
Learning things you never thought you could do, being able to perform techniques for the first time and getting good at something will do wonders to your self-esteem. After submitting a bigger opponent or higher belt, there is no going back to low self-esteem!
2. You will gain humility.
Egos crash and shatter like glass in jiu jitsu. You will be submitted, controlled and smashed – and there is nothing you can do about it. There will always be someone better than you, and it is really hard to keep up the image of being God’s gift to BJJ while not being able to escape when stuck under side control of someone half your size.
3. You will realize that you can never judge a person’s abilities by their appearance.
You can never tell what your opponent’s body can do based on how it looks. They’re tiny? They could have amazing speed and great technique. Chubby? They could be strong with the attitude of a champion. And they look like a Greek god? They could be a mental quitter with no flexibility. Jiu jitsu attracts so many people from so many different backgrounds that it is impossible to know how they roll from their appearance, and that is a great lesson in life as well. “Don’t judge a book by its cover” is as relevant on the mats as is anywhere else.
4. You will become patient and will understand that nothing worth having comes instantly or easily.
No world champion got their medal with just two months of training. You will have to be ready to put in the work relentlessly – day after day, week after week, year after year. To is true if you want to be able to achieve your goals – whether it is the next belt or winning gold at Worlds. There are no quick-fixes, no short-cuts, only hard work, bucket-fulls of sweat, with maybe a few drops of blood and tears mixed in as well. But, that is what makes reaching your goals so great.
5. You will appreciate your body more than ever.
Eventually you realize you are more interested in what your body is able to do than what it looks like. Once you’ve bridged a 120kg power lifter flying from mount you will not care if you have a few extra pounds somewhere. Besides, there’s nothing a little bit of fat can do to your body-image after pulling off a successful flying armbar!