Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. My new addiction.

A couple of months ago I start a new sport, Brazilian jiu-jitsu (aka BJJ or jits). I’d actually been wanting to try it for a year or two but thanks to living in Switzerland the only accessible clubs were in French, and I didn’t quite trust my french to learn a completely new sport. Especially something as technical as BJJ.

Two months in and it’s safe to say I’m addicted. Like proper addicted. I’m missing my first session since joining on Monday and I’ve already got FOMO 😂 I think the only two other sports I’ve felt like this about are probably surfing and skiing.

So what is BJJ?

BJJ is a grappling-based martial art whose central theme is the skill of controlling a resisting opponent in ways that force him to submit₁. Unlike some other martial arts, BJJ does not focus on kicking or punching. The focus is on a safe grappling technique that can be done on a daily basis with no more fear of injury than any other contact sport. Jiu-jitsu promotes the concept that a smaller, weaker person can successfully defend against a bigger, stronger assailant by using leverage and proper technique₁ (the direct translation of ‘jiu-jitsu’ is ‘gentle art’).

What has it taught me?

A whole damn heap of things if I’m being honest! Aside from the self-defence techniques which can of course be useful in daily life, especially as a woman, it’s also taught me:

  • Perseverance : When I started I had no clue what was going on. Like none at all. To be honest I still don’t 😂 But when you do get something, even something so small, and see its effects, it feels very rewarding. Even if just for half a second before you realise you’re in a whole heap of pain and trouble again. But persevere and you will (eventually) start understanding what’s going on.
  • Keeping an open-mind : Just when you think you know something in BJJ the opponent does something else. By keeping an open mind you encourage learning and learn that there is not a single solution to one situation.
  • Trust : You have to trust people you hardly know, or may have never met before. When you submit in BJJ you tap your opponent to be released. This requires a certain amount of trust that the person will let go of you.
  • Looks can be deceiving : Now I’m sure the guys won’t mind me saying this, but in the last couple of sessions I’ve sparred with Kim again, and damn, she’s tough. Tougher than the guys. I believe this is because woman (generally) cannot rely on brute strength alone and technique is therefore key. If you join the club in Verbier, don’t say I didn’t warn you about Kim…
  • To be good at something, you have to be bad at something : Becoming a beginner again at the age of 31 when you ‘supposedly’ know what you’re doing is interesting. By the age of 30 we’re meant to have it all ‘figured out’. Even if we don’t it all figured out we’ve practiced, and maybe mastered, one or two things. Going back to ground zero has made me realise that we might often surpass opportunities in life because we0’e afraid of being bad, but actually that’s where we have the most potential to learn. Don’t let your ego get in the way of learning.
  • Failure is an opportunity to learn : I’ve said this to myself again and again and again in session. Dougie (our coach) said this when we first started – just try something, if it doesn’t work then you’ve learnt (that) something (doesn’t work). We learn through our mistakes and BJJ is no exception. If we don’t try and fail, we will never learn.

For those in and around the Verbier area who would like to give it a go. DO IT! What’s more, even if you’re not sure, the first session is free. So you literally having nothing to lose. Except maybe your ego. Drop Dougie a message on Facebook if you’d like to give it a go.

A massive thanks to the club members who have been so welcoming and patient with me joining as a beginner and a special shout out to Dougie Flockhart the coach. His experience, explanation, openness to share knowledge and love for the sport really has encouraged and enabled my learning. So Dougie if you’re reading this – thank you! Who knew martial arts could be so friendly.

Hopefully see you all on the mats soon,

Love Emma x


  1. Roger Gracie Academy, online,

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