Should I sign up for BJJI finally broke down and signed up for jiu jitsu. I say “broke down” because it’s been something I’ve wanted to do for a little over a year. When I decided to drive to Neutral Ground to talk to someone about a membership I was nervous for a variety of reasons. I am often awkward around new people, I’m not in the best shape currently and I’ve never done anything like jiu jitsu before. I also kept picturing every dumb thing I bought in my 20s (like a Love Sac). It took a while after I parked to get out of my car and go inside.

When I walked inside, there was only one guy there. He looked at me, smiled and said “who the hell are you?” I thought about giving a fake name, but I am not good at thinking under pressure, and Axel Burgmann sounded too made up. Before I could tell him my name, his smile widened, “I’m just kidding, welcome!” The guy ended up being super nice, and he gave me a small tour, a sheet with pricing information and Jon’s business card.

A few days later I went back and met Jon who was also incredibly nice. He invited me to attend a few free classes to test it out. Terrifying. Sure Jon, contrary to what The Karate Kid had led me to expect  didn’t shout “No mercy!” to his students, at least while I was there, but what were the students going to be like?!

In case you haven’t picked up on it, I’m a little neurotic when outside my comfort zone. Walking into my first class I was envisioning everyone there being a current or former bully or guys who had been doing this for years and would be annoyed by my inexperience.

In fact, none of the worst case scenarios I conjured up in my head were true. I rolled with 6 different people my first class. All of them were patient, kind, welcoming and really helpful. Yes, I did get put into a few chokes, but was told what was coming by either the person I was rolling with or a coach. It was really gentle. As gentle as getting choked could be.

The Best Decision I’ve Ever Made

It’s been two weeks since I signed up for a full year. I’m bad at jiu jitsu, really bad, but I’ve never had more fun being bad at something. I’ve also learned a lot since I started. If you’re concerned you’re going to look silly, or that you’re too out of shape, don’t be. Jon, the other coaches at Neutral Ground and the other members (including me) are here to help and guide you and ensure you to have a good time.