I moved to Christchurch and wanted to find a new hobby to challenge myself, meet new people and learn new skills. I’d been strength training for around 6 years or so, so jiu-jitsu was pretty far removed from a platform and a barbell and most definitely out of my comfort zone.
When I started I was always trying to use strength to control or submit my opponent, which isn’t always the most efficient way! Being able to relax my body, slow down and correctly apply counter-techniques (rather than being a tense muscle-nugget) is something I have been working really hard on, and the instructors at Axis have been hugely helpful in offering advice.
At first I didn’t want to tap, because I thought it meant I wasn’t improving. This was the worst idea and resulted in injury, which is gutting when you have to take a break from training. Tapping might feel like a bit of an ego-bruiser (especially as a white belt when you do it a million times) but it’s better for you in the long run to learn and avoid injury.
I was so nervous stepping onto the mats for the first time, but breaking through that mental barrier meant I was able to get a taste for the sport and really enjoyed myself. Axis has a high-trust, highly respectful environment that encourages and supports you to learn. This atmosphere locked me down on day one and most definitely keeps me coming back.
BJJ is an inclusive sport which really appeals to me. It’s reflected in the diversity of people who train at Axis and has introduced me to so many interesting and wonderful people. Every individual has their own strengths and weaknesses which means you’re constantly having to adjust to your opponent. You become aware of your body and how it is functioning in space, and how you are applying force against another human being, it’s like a constant feedback loop. I think there’s something a bit primal about the sport too, and the buzz you get from a good roll is hard to beat. I’d love to 70 years old and still in a gi, rolling around on the mats.
Being active, being around friends, burning excess energy, leaving a tough day on the mats – it’s just such a good feeling. I love that BJJ challenges me physically but also does a lot for my mental health. BJJ has taught me to slow down and be mindful of and intentional with my actions. This is transferring into other parts of my life and I find I can work through the tough stuff a little bit better.