I took BJJ about four years ago for the first time in an academy in the Forest Hills neighborhood of Queens, off a recommendation from a friend. I enjoyed it quite a lot and did it for a few months until my job piled me up with a bunch of overtime. I didn’t much complain at the time because I was making a whole lot of money. Recently I took up the sport again, this time at a new Academy. I decided to pick it up again after reading a book titled “Lost Connection” by Johann Hari. One of the book’s highlights was how many people go through depression because they don’t feel any real sense of community, and from listening to a few self-help podcasts I learned that taking up martial arts is not only a great(and fun) way of staying in shape, but that you can also find a sense of community. So I began my search for an academy that was a reasonable distance from my house as well as had a schedule that accommodated mines(I tend to work in the evenings so I needed something with morning classes) and I found a place that worked in the Long Island City neighborhood of Queens. After taking a trial class, I found the instructor referred to as the professor to be friendly( in my earlier experiences in martial arts classes that hasn’t always been the case). After the class, I decided to sign up.
At first, I was going fairly regularly about three times a week but then I fell into a bit of a rote(or depression) and stopped attending classes and just took up drinking in the morning. I’m a borderline alcoholic, and one of my motivations for taking up martial arts was to have something else to do in the morning besides drinking. As I stopped frequenting the classes the Professor(as everyone calls the instructor) would begin sending me text messages and calling asking me if everything was ok, I found this very thoughtful (especially since I already signed a one-year commitment) most places would just bill you monthly without thinking too much about whether you came or not. So told him I felt a bit depressed and that was the reason I wasn’t attending.
I went back to my morning routine of drinking just before I go to work. I’m not going to sit here and codon drinking before my shift starts but it was something I did for a long time. But one day it was different as I came into work somebody from the main office decided to come on shift and have a conversation with me (for the sake of discrepancy I’m not going to reveal what line of work I was in) after a brief conversation with the said person I was called downstairs to speak with my supervisor. I would find out from my Supervisor that the person who had a conversation with me reported to the higher-ups that I was intoxicated and I had to go home. I learned the following day I was suspended until further notice.
I wasn’t at all to bothered by this, I figured I would just go and collect unemployment(like the previous times I’ve been suspended) and I would use this free time to work on myself and do things I wanted to do but never had the free time for. This didn’t exactly go as planned at first, instead of doing anything productive I went into the bad habit of just drinking all day. All this while the professor would call me from time to time to check on me(since I wasn’t attending class anymore).
Finally one day after laying in my bed all day just watching movies, I decided that I was dipping into a very unhealthy situation and decided that I had to leave my room. So I took a shower, got dressed, and went to a BJJ class. At first, that class was especially hard since I took a bit of a hiatus and all I was doing was drinking all day but bared through it. After going consistently for the next couple of days my whole outlook began to change, I felt less angry and depressed, two moods that led me to drink. I stopped drinking altogether. Practicing Bjj has made me feel less like a loser, that even though I’m not working, I’m still accomplishing something. This new resurgence in myself from BJJ spilled over to other parts of life, as mentioned I stopped drinking I even got motivated to look for another job, in fact, I had two job offers that paid better than my previous gig.
I’m still new at the sport, but for anyone who feels a bit down his luck, why not give BJJ a try, it might change you or at least you’ll learn how to kick ass!