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Dec 13 2008

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Jennie Croft/Ju Jitsu

JENNIE CROFT/ JU JITSU

“Ooh, better not get on the wrong side of you, you’ll knock my block off!” I have lost count of the amount of times people have said that to me since I started practicing Ju Jitsu over three years ago.

Well the time has come for me to dispel the myths I have encountered about the Japanese ‘art of gentle control’.

One of the most common misconceptions within society is that Ju Jitsu is a sport – It is not. It is an actuality of self-defence, designed to enhance mind and body co-ordination, to enable individuals taking part, to respond to situations immediately. This particular martial art is, or can be, very severe. Over time students learn techniques for virtually any kind of attack known to man.

In today’s society I think it is important to be able to react and stand up to an attacker with confidence and necessary aggression. If muggers and sadists continue to attack defenseless people in the street, deviants in our society will continue getting worse because none of their fore-fathers are learning the valuable lessons needed, which basically are, if you don’t want to suffer – don’t threaten the lives of others.

Ju Jitsu has become an important part of my life in the time I have been a member of my local guild in Grimsby. Being a woman, I find it very empowering. It has improved my self-confidence no-end and I would definitely recommend it to other women who have even the remotest interest in taking it up.

I have noticed that the ratio of men to women is very high where I train. Plenty of women join, but not many persevere. I don’t know whether it has anything to do with their pain threshold or the embarrassment of such close contact with men they don’t know. A lot of people leave the club because they seem to think they can get a black belt in a matter of weeks. OK, but let’s be real, if you could learn the skills needed in a few weeks we’d all be doing it and no specific clubs would exist would they?

The fact is, it takes time to learn and appreciate all that is involves in any martial art, but I guess you don’t need the likes of Bruce lee to tell you that. The best way I’ve found to progress and really get to grips with Ju Jitsu is when I pass on my wisdom to others. Although it’s when you try to teach that you can realize how little wisdom you’ve actually got. I mean it takes me long enough to begin to execute a technique, but trying to explain and demonstrate it can be mind boggling, but I get by.

It is a great feeling to foster the art and see beginners improving more and more as they attain higher grades of achievement.

Now just because a Do-Jo is turning mummy’s little angels into ultimate fighting machines, it does not mean that everyone practicing martial arts believes that they can’t be defeated. Although that is another fallacy that has been thrust upon me by members of the dear public, who are ignorant to the art.

The fact is that students of martial arts would probably be the last to start a fight or encourage any kind of trouble upon themselves. Self-defence is exactly what it claims to be. Someone is hardly defending him or herself when they march up to a gang of violent individuals and provoke them for the sake of it. That, my friends is just madness.

Although, there are odd occasions where someone takes up the challenge of gaining knowledge in martial arts and enter the Do-Jo with the wrong attitude. They walk onto the mat believing that once they leave or at least become a yellow belt no-one can touch them, but somehow, throughout training their attitudes change and they become much more aware of the basic principles of self-defence, and can experience greater self respect.

I know that when some people hear a martial art mentioned, their brain jumps straight into a Jackie Chan frenzy of tackling and beating three men against one, but what people don’t take into consideration is the philosophy and spiritual awareness surrounding martial arts.

Greater physical awareness techniques are an absolute necessity the majority of times one may be faced with an attacker. If that individual cannot tune into the spiritual awareness of the art however, and learn to channel their energies to centre themselves and handle the situation with as much ease as possible under the circumstances – to say they may be wasting their time could be an understatement.

When I mention spiritual awareness I don’t mean that people find god all of a sudden. The spiritualism is inside the individual; it can just awaken to such a degree that the effect can be life changing. 

For example I remember a shy young girl walking into a Do-Jo for the first time, scared stiff. She was not scared of being injured or getting hurt particularly, she was scared of fitting in. She lacked self-esteem and confidence in her own abilities, but she has progressed to become a 3rd kyu (green belt) so far, and sees the other club members as an extension of her own family. Her life and personality have improved to such an extent that people who’ve known her a long time can’t believe she is the same shy, introvert little girl of the past.

Yes I remember walking into that Do-Jo for my first training session like it was yesterday – phew, thank god I managed to overcome the nerves is all I can say. It has been the most life-enhancing experience of my life so far…and that is not a myth. 

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