Perhaps I should have written this article as the first post in my series since courage is what I needed before I even stepped on the mats. I was scared. I was stepping into completely unfamiliar territory, and the only reason I was doing so was to confront one of my biggest fears – how can I defend myself against someone who is on top of me and pinning me to the ground. My heart would race just thinking about that scenario and here I was trying to face it – applaudable yes. Terrifying, also yes!


Still, I started and I haven’t stopped, though along the way I’ve had to dig deep and find courage many, many times.

Beyond the technique, jiu-jitsu has taught me how to find that courage. There have been many moments when I was afraid I would fail, I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to do the techniques, I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to keep up with my training partners … the bottom line was that fear was underlying many of my thoughts.

However, my passion for jiu-jitsu prevailed. I knew that I would have to face my fears in order to move forward and progress. There was no future in jiu-jitsu unless I tried … and there was also no failure if I kept on trying.

So I kept showing up. Instead of avoiding lessons featuring techniques I struggled with, I made sure to attend them. During any review periods I forced myself to practice the techniques I had most difficulty with instead of finding safety behind familiar moves. I kept trying and sure enough it was digging deep and finding the courage to keep showing up that helped me succeed.


the diving toe hold was definitely a technique that required a lot of courage to do!

When it came to sparring, sometimes it could be scary. I knew my teammates were all trustworthy and were not out to crush me, but still, going up against a bigger, stronger opponent could be scary. Once again, that’s where courage came in. You need to find the courage to try. You need to trust your training. After all, jiu-jitsu was designed for the smaller & weaker against the bigger & stronger … so why not test yourself and try it out?


although intimidating, I now enjoy going up against the bigger, stronger guys at our club

I feel like I’ve overcome an incredible number of fears and apprehensions through my jiu-jitsu practice. As a self-conscious, somewhat shy person, rolling around on the mats with people or standing in front of them teaching techniques is not something I ever imagined doing. Sometimes I step back and take a look at myself and wonder – who is this person? I used to not be able to recognize her … slowly but surely I recognize that she is me. She is the person who continuously works on finding courage. The best part about discovering your courage to try is that you always end up leaving the mat feeling like you accomplished something. Even if you haven’t mastered the technique or your rolls didn’t go according to plan, you showed up. You tried. You showed courage.


jiu-jitsu — having the courage to throw as well as the courage to fall

Links to other posts in this series:

Beyond the Technique: Focus

Beyond the Technique: Discipline

Beyond the Technique: Patience

Beyond the Technique: Confidence

Beyond the Technique: Ownership 

Beyond the Technique: Losing your Ego

Beyond the Technique: Teamwork