Anyone who knows even a little bit about me probably knows that I do Jiu Jitsu. I started practising Shorinji Kan Japanese Jiu Jitsu in September of 2013, when I began my undergraduate degree. I joined the Jiu Jitsu Club at UofT and I’ve now been the president of for about two years.
That decision was the best I’ve made over the course of my undergraduate career. Let me tell you why.
I was adopted into a community that extends far beyond UofT. Ours is one of many Shorinji Kan Jiu Jitsu Clubs in Ontario. 5 clubs exist in Toronto alone (Ryerson and York each have one!), then there’s Peterborough, Kingston and Ottawa too. West of Ontario are clubs in Alberta and British Columbia, and then there are the distant relatives in South Africa, Argentina, the USA, the UK and still more corners of the world. I have a family around the world. And this will all get together next year for the 2016 Jitsu International. Guess who’s on the organizing committee? You got it: me!
I am a socially-anxious extrovert, in my personal opinion. Becoming involved with Jiu Jitsu, however, made it really easy to be social. We all go out for food, drink and good conversation after nearly every training session. The club is consistently extremely welcoming and beginner-friendly. I’ve never felt out of place.
The support you get in this community is unreal. Like I said, we’re a family. When you’re freaking out about your grading the next day (grading: test to earn a new rank in the style), you’ll get a helpful, late-night pep-talk from your instructors. When you need to talk, your training partners will meet you for coffee, and when you haven’t been to training in a while, we’ll always notice, reach out and make sure you’re okay.
Jiu Jitsu training has helped me fight a lot of battles, on and off the mats. It’s given me confidence, strength, perspective and a support system when all else fails.
But why should you care?
My experience is mine, but you all can make your own. UofT offers us countless opportunities, but it’s up to us to reach out and grab them.
Fitness and physical activity are a great way to get involved. It’s an easy way to meet new people. And doing something active is way more fun when you’re doing it with friends.
You also learn a great deal about campus and its facilities and services. I’m an –albeit self-proclaimed- expert on the athletic centres at this point.
And of course, trying something new is really valuable! When you leave your comfort zone, you get to grow!
I guess what I most want to convey is you never know what you’ll discover. I definitely didn’t know that Jiu Jitsu would mean what it does to me when I showed up on my first day. Yet here I am, so glad I made the decision to show up to that first session. I’m immensely grateful for all that the art has given me and for the people I’m surrounded by. I couldn’t be happier!