Jujitsu much like life is all about perspective. Sensei Derek Stewart once told me that my fight would be harder then the average bear. Early on in my journey I realized that it would sometimes take me longer to understand how certain techniques would work with my body. When I first saw Master Eddie Bravo’s Rubber Guard, I thought to myself that there was no way I was going to be able to do that with my own legs. Let alone all of the other techniques that follow the Rubber Guard. But something inside me simply did not want to give up; I wanted to work as hard as I could possibly could at the 10th Planet Jujitsu system and find techniques that fit my body. Master Eddie Bravo once told me during a seminar he was once conducting to only do what I could do. That to me gave me a sense of freedom to self-discover. Master Eddie’s approach to Jujitsu has revolutionized my own mindset to Jujitsu, as a person living with Cerebral Palsy, I am not able to move as fast as I’d like, so naturally speaking Master Eddie’s approach to starting from a sitting position is almost perfect for me. I say almost because so of his techniques require leg strength that I don’t currently have yet. There is also less risk of being pushed backwards when starting from a kneeling position. When I was much younger I had no fear about starting from my knees, my body was much faster and I honestly did not care much about the well being of my body.
Now that I’m a little “older” though, I fear my knees or ankles exploding on me. One night at practice during a friendly roll, a guy in the gym pushed me backwards and I heard a pop in my ankle and knee (in my right leg) it hurt for a few minutes, but I was fine after awhile. My point is, the fear of having Cerebral Palsy and two blown out knees or quads was something I was not willing to risk anymore.
I want to be doing Jujitsu at least until I’m in my late seventies or early eighties. In order to do so, my perspective on not only jujitsu but also my life and body as a whole had to change as well. For starters , that meant that I swallow my pride while on the mat. This largely meant that if someone got me into a submission during practice I would simply tap out. It’s no use being injured and not being able to hone my skills for months at a time. There’re are still so many people in the Jujitsu community that hold on to their pride, and for what? All they’ll have to account for is having something injured on their bodies and less time on the mat. Secondly, I had to improve my relationship with my body. For me that meant stretching in morning and the evening . Most people already hate stretching as is, but trust me, with Cerebral Palsy it hurts all the more. But every morning the first thing I would do was stretching my neck, back, arms and legs. Stretching out my legs was the hardest part, when I first started my daily routine the pain that I would experience in my tendons and the back of my knees was very painful. But with time and proper breathing things got a bit easier as time progressed. Was I perfect in my daily practice? No, in fact I miss days in between largely because of my own laziness.
I also had to change the way I ate, I’ve always ate relatively healthy, but I wanted to be sure to take in my daily fruits and veggies. Further more I made sure that I still had my daily sources of protein, the only difference is was the amount I allowed myself to have. There was a time in my life when I got tired of being physically small, I got tired of bigger guys dominating me. As a result I started consuming Crietine, a product that truthfully only balloons your muscles up so you look big. On top of that I would drink two-three large protein shakes a day.
The result, I then felt bulky and slow. The real problem I discovered was not related to my physical (outer self) but more so with my inner self. Eventually I got tired of being bulky and went back to being my skinny self. Do I still try to strengthen my physical body? Yes, but I am learning to be content as I am while still trying to improve at the same time.
-Copyright, 2014 Brandon Ryan