This has been jumping around in my brain for the last month, and I have a snowed-in morning to finally get it down in black and white.
I started training regularly last February. In the past year, it is safe to say that jiu jitsu has invaded much more of my life than anyone anticipated. I started out hoping to go three times a week, figuring that school would creep in and take one of those nights every now and then. The classes were rarely more than 5 people, and usually one colored belt would show. I went to a Dave Camarillo seminar when he was in town. I had been training for only 2 months, and it was more than a little intimidating and frightening. I had never been in a room with so many other jiu jitsu guys, and they were tough, tough jiu jitsu guys. The first weekend in May, Klint held his first promotion ceremony and I got my second stripe on my white belt. Dave and Damian were both there, and we got to pick Dave's brain about jiu jitsu when we were done. Of course, none of us had been training more than six or seven months by that point, so we didn't even know what questions to ask. We're trying to get a hold of the big picture from one of the best in the game, and we don't even know where to start.
Slowly, jiu jitsu training took precedent in my week. I convinced a friend to sign up by spending a morning going over techniques with him in his basement. My "hopefully three-a-week" schedule became "if I don't get to at least four, there better be a good reason." I got my third stripe in September, and my friend and I built our law school class schedules around jiu jitsu. I competed in a tournament, despite not having the time to train properly for it. I finished one fight with a triangle, and lost my other two. It showed me where my weaknesses were, what my strengths were, and how important diet and technique are. I went to Denver to have Thanksgiving with some of my wife's family, and I snuck two classes in at Easton Jiu Jitsu in Arvada. I got my blue belt almost exactly one year after I began training.
I have had the following jiu-jitsu-related injuries: tweaked left thumb, pains in the rib-cartilage area, strange pains down both shins, gi burns across my face, bit lips (before getting a mouthguard), miniature staph in both knees, nose bleeds, and extremely strained back muscles. That last one required x-rays to make sure nothing was out of place, and stole two weeks of training from me.
I have trained with people who have received the following injuries: hyper-extended elbow; partially torn meniscus; sprained knee; severely strained hamstring; torn acl; dislocated index finger; broken hand (and he trained through it with his cast on--because he's a beast); separated rib.
I have made great friends with quality people.
I have apologized to and profusely thanked my wife for jiu jitsu. Often at the same time.
I have never needed to use my jiu jitsu outside the academy.
I have bested higher belts, and lost to lower belts.
I have almost learned how to move my hips.
I have probably lost fat and added muscle, though it almost looks like I'm wasting away. My wife tells me I look like Skeletor. That means that I have not learned how best to manage my diet.
I have cried in the locker room after class.
I have laughed in the middle of a roll.
I have tried to explain to my friends why I keep doing this thing that doesn't seem to make any semblance of sense to them. But when I tell them the easiest way to figure it out is to come to a sample class, they constantly beg off. I'm still working on it.
Beginning jiu jitsu is the second smartest thing I've ever done. (For those counting at home, the first is convincing my wife that I was good enough to marry.)
As for where I now stand, this part is more intimidating than my first class. I am the first blue belt at our academy. I'm the big shoulders--at least as far as rank goes. Sure, some higher belts from across town come in a few nights a week and occasional Saturdays, but Klint has put me up as the one of his students thus far deserving this rank. I'm more than a little intimidated. I have to be more aware of what my body is doing, what my opponent is doing in response--what is working and what isn't--and figure out my game.
As far as the rest of my life is concerned, I can say only that jiu jitsu has been a huge benefit. I watch my diet closer. I've been a vegetarian for years, but now I try harder to balance protein and carbs and veggies and all that--you know, eat healthy and smart. I drink less, both quantity and frequency. My sleep schedule is currently wonky as hell, but that has more to do with the high school teaching than anything else.
I'm stronger, leaner, and (I like to think) smarter than I was a year ago. And it's not entirely because of jiu jitsu, but a lot of it is.