I’m not going to lie; I don’t feel like training today. I woke up in a pool of low self-esteem, self-doubt, and anxiety.  I sure as hell don’t feel like having a young, 20-year old man, who has wrestled since he was nine, try to smash my face in on the mats tonight. I don’t want to train. I don’t want to teach. I want to be comfortable… so I rolled light in during the morning jiu-jitsu training session. Now I feel worse because I know I took the easy way out. What the hell is wrong with me? My thoughts are telling me I’m lost, and those voices are getting loud. I know what the problem is, it’s ego.

The reality is, that it’s very easy to keep your ego in check. Do jiu-jitsu. There are only a few things that consistently provide the stimulus I need to stay grounded: The gym, cleaning horse stalls, photography, writing and jiu-jitsu.

The gym: This last year has been a gut check in the gym. To be honest my fitness level is not where it once was, and that’s not fun to admit. I dealt with 2 serious injuries the last year. I had an 80% tear of my LCL that happened by accident one night during some hard rolling at the end of a jiu-jitsu training session. The LCL injury took me out from training BJJ and any lower body movement in the gym for a few months. Then, 6 months ago, I herniated my L4 and L5. I couldn’t sit up in the driver seat of my truck to drive to the gym, my wife had to drive me everywhere because I had to lay down in the back seat just to get around. I was almost completely reliant on her to do anything. My fitness level went from a high level to nonexistent. My ego got kicked right in the face and became as nonexistent as my fitness level. My wife had to have a tough love talk with me about practicing what I preach to others about recovery. The fact that she called me out about my hypocritic ways when it came to my own recovery hurt more than the injury. I desperately need that. I deadlifted 185# for the first time in almost 7-months a few weeks ago. The process is slow

Cleaning horse stalls: If you have never cleaned horse stalls, you are missing out on some valuable life lessons. There is nothing else I can say about it, it is something you need to experience for yourself.

Photography: With the injuries limiting my training, I need to fill a void in my life, I needed to find a way to challenge myself, and photography was the perfect fit. If you look at my Instagram, you will see a sudden shift in the content that was released.  I would classify myself as a newbie amateur. The more time I spend behind the camera the more I see how low my skill is. It is humbling to look at professional photographer’s work, or even just scrolling through Instagram, to see the skill level difference between myself and someone who has spent years perfecting their art. It brought me back to being a white belt in jiu-jitsu and rolling with a black belt for the first time. I have become addicted to the process of self-growth within the art. I rarely go anywhere without my camera.

Writing: I don’t enjoy it. I find it extremely challenging to put the right words, in the right order, down to convey the things that are going through my mind. My grammar is atrocious.  I am much more comfortable with conversation. I feel extremely vulnerable when I write. I don’t like the feeling of being that vulnerable with strangers reading my words, but I know I need it.

Jiu Jitsu: If I could roll all the lessons from the gym, cleaning horse stalls, photography, and writing into one big ball it would be called jiu-jitsu. There is nothing that I have done in my life that has been more humbling/challenging/rewarding/frustrating than jiu-jitsu. I believe that jiu-jitsu will teach anyone the lessons they need to learn about life on an individual level. Everyone’s experience with the art is unique and personal. Jiu-jitsu will teach you that there is a solution to every problem. There is an escape from every position. There is a counter to every submission. You must take the time to learn, to persevere. You must show up day in and day out to progress because nothing is given to you without hard work and dedication. You will get submitted by smaller opponents who you are physically stronger than. It is a humbling experience to be submitted by a 120-pound woman. It’s sad that most guys egos can’t handle it, because every man who has experienced it is better because of it.

Thing about Jiu-Jitsu is that is a path to freedom. Freedom from ego. Freedom from anxiety. Freedom from self-doubt. It is a path to freedom from yourself.

Jiu-jistu is my prescription.