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The first stripe on my white belt



The first stripe on my white belt

Longevity runs in my family; my grandparents on both sides died of natural causes at around 90 years old. I prefer an early demise before all the problems due to senility catch up with me, but we can’t decide our lifespans.


After 10+ years of intensive work and study, I felt like I had mortgaged my future health for short-term goals. My body endured lack of sleep, nutritious food and regular exercise for over a decade, but these bad habits began to take a toll on me. I’ve been suffering from chronic left neck pain, persistent headache, and stiff shoulders. I need to be up and at ‘em until 90, but if my condition keeps deteriorating at this rate, I will be bedridden at the age of 70.


That was why I decided to join a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu club in October. What on earth was I thinking? I’ve never experienced Martial Arts before. Worse still, I haven’t exercised at all for many years. Maybe yoga or walking would be suitable for a sedentary old lady like me, but I needed an extreme measure to abolish these bad habits.


When I first set foot on a BJJ dojo, I was overwhelmed by formidable guys; their masculinity, sweatiness and facial hair were more than enough to scare me off. But I soon realized that these people were kind at heart. I am awful at any kind of physical activity, but they were patient, and they readily took care of me. I can’t thank them enough for putting up with me, encouraging me, and executing an arm bar on me.


I had just begun my training about two months before and I hadn’t expected anything in the short term, but I received the first stripe on my white belt last week. It was totally unexpected. I thought I would get my first stripe at the age of 82 on the grounds of compassion or something before I die, but it just happened! I need three more stripes on my white belt before I am promoted to a blue belt, but this is a big first step. Getting a blue belt usually requires training for 3-4 hours a week for 3 years, but I have plenty of time. When I started training, I intended to continue for more than 30 years….


There is one more unexpected effect I would particularly like to mention; the chronic left neck pain I had suffered for more than 20 years disappeared! The neck and head pain were so tenacious and nasty that I assumed I needed a total head transplantation to cure this suffering. This astonishing outcome could be due to a chiropractic effect; BJJ movements require tremendous flexibility. As a BJJ novice, my body is stiff. My practice partners had to enforce some of the challenging postures on me. When my practice buddy executed some techniques, my muscles and joints extended beyond my comfortable range of motion. I groaned, whimpered, and moaned every time someone practiced on me, but this definitely had a therapeutic effect on the constricted muscles and joints. Now, I feel as if I am 20 years younger.


I rejoice in a world without pain. I joined BJJ in hopes that I could take care of myself in my old age, but now I aspire to more; I’ll be a kick-ass old woman at 90.






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