The Turning Point

Growing up, I was always a really small kid.  Like, really small.  I was the shortest and skinniest kid in my highschool until I hit a growth spurt in grade 11 – or Junior year, for you Americans.  Before that, I was 5’2, and weighed about 100 lbs (that’s probably being generous).

Maybe as a consequence of always being small and weak, I was pretty insecure about myself.  I’ve never really been in a full-on street fight, and the idea of fighting scared the crap out of me.  Even after I put on some height, I was a weak, skinny guy, and it never occurred to me that people like me could defend themselves in a fight.  That is, until I saw a replay of UFC 1 on TV.

I actually missed most of the UFC 1 replay.  I just happened to change the channel in time to see a semi-final match in an 8-man tournament.

One of the fighters was some skinny Brazilian guy named Royce Gracie, apparently a practitioner of some weird martial art called Brazilian Jiu Jitsu:

Height: 6'1". Weight: 175lbs. Expression: Deer in the headlights?

Now, let’s check out his opponent.  Folks, meet Ken Shamrock, the self-proclaimed “World’s Most Dangerous Man.”

Height: 6'0". Weight: 245 lbs. Oh. My. Dear. God.

I remember feeling a lump in my throat as I watched the two fighters standing across the cage from each other – yeah, did I mention they were fighting in a freakin’ cage!?  I stared at the TV in horror (and admittedly, sick curiosity), waiting for the juiced-up steroid monster to smash the skinny guy into oblivion.

And then:

0:57 of Round 1


Royce Gracie choked out Ken Shamrock.

This wasn’t the pre-scripted, professional wrestling garbage I was accustomed to seeing on TV.  This was a real fight.

From then on, I began watching more and more UFC events, always with a fascination for submission victories – there was something about small fighters being able to choke out larger fighters, simply through the use of leverage and technique, that resonated with  me.

After a few more years, I finally signed up for my first Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class, and I’ve been doing it ever since.  In the 3 years I’ve been training, the biggest change I’ve noticed is my level of confidence, both on and off the mats.  I no longer worry about physical confrontation, and strangely, I feel much more confident in my ability to diffuse those situations before they would ever get to that point.  Brazilian Jiu Jitsu builds strength, coordination, and technical understanding of self-defense principles.  But most importantly, it builds confidence.


About Dave

Grad student in Ecology, Blue belt in jiu jitsu.
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