12/19/2012: "Defend yourself with the body you have"
Hey you! Yeah, you! Just do you know: you have to be in good shape to train here, so lose those extra pounds before you come by! And while you're here, you'll burn lots of calories and reduce fat due to our high-intensity, high-energy workouts! And we're all about competing, so you'd better be interested in that, too!
Yeeeaaahhh... no. Not exactly.
When people contact us or talk to dojo members about training, one or more of the above are often the initial reaction to hearing that we teach ju-jitsu-based self defense. It probably comes from the fact that there are martial arts programs which also bill themselves as fitness programs, and also that people are more familiar these days with the type of ju-jitsu seen in MMA competitions. They're often surprised when we tell them that no, you don't have to be in tip-top shape to start.
Having run into this again recently, it's probably worth it to repeat what it is that we do, and how we train.
- We're about self defense, not competition. Students learn to defend against actual attacks, not wrestle around in sport. MMA and UFC have highly conditioned individuals and can be rather violent, but they still have rules and are sports. (We break most of those rules.) And these days most people hear "ju-jitsu", and think of Brazilian ju-jitsu, whether they know it by name or not. Our curriculum is based in Japanese ju-jitsu. (See our FAQ regarding the difference.) When the dojo first opened, and for a number of years afterward, we didn't have to make that distinction. Now we do.
- We want you to be able to defend yourself as you are now. An attacker isn't going to wait for you to lose that extra weight, nor is your bad knee going to magically disappear. Why wait to train? (That said, if you have any health or other concerns with regard to training with us - or at any school/gym/etc. - please discuss them with a health professional!)
- As to a workout? We don't have any gym equipment here. Your "workout" will be obtained by repeatedly getting up off the ground from being thrown (after you learn how to fall safely); by responding to various standing and ground attacks; and, after you've been here for a bit, participating in unscripted single and multiple attacks/defenses. We do periodically practice striking bags (since we can't strike people), but it isn't a major part of the curriculum. Will you breathe heavily? Yep. Will you sweat? Yep. Will you be in better condition as you train over time? Yep. Is this a "workout"? Yes, but not in the same sense as those you get in a gym or by running or spinning or doing Zumba or...
The people we train are people like you - look at the pictures and video on our site. We don't care if you're overweight, underweight, short, tall, or have body parts that aren't working quite right. You and your recalcitrant parts are most welcome to train - as you are if you have none of the above "problems". Besides, there are generally several different responses to one attack, so if one won't work as well for you for whatever reason, you'll have another(s). You'll find what works best for you.
Defend yourself with the body you have, not the one you wish you did. (You can work on getting to that!)
Yes, the title and close of this post are references to the statement made by then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in 2004: "You go to war with the Army you have. They're not the Army you might want or wish to have at a later time."