I’m embarrassed to admit this. When I walked into my first BJJ class, I really didn’t even know what jiu jitsu was. I stumbled into my jiu jitsu academy on a whim, wanting to try something new. I thought that maybe jiu jitsu was something like karate or kickboxing. Surely, I didn’t imagine that my first day I would be shrimping, drilling take-downs, and wrapping my legs around some 200lb guy learning how to do a triangle.
Until I started training, I never thought of myself as a particularly strong or aggressive person. I had a friend in school who started wrestling and although I admired her, I felt like “that is something I could never do”. I was just “too feminine” I thought, as if that was a weakness,
I was just “not tough enough”, and “not audacious enough”. I am so embarrassed of these thoughts now, but they were the stories I used keep playing small.
I think we all have them, whether it is in sports, in our careers, or in our relationships, we tell ourselves stories about who we are, and what “people like us” are capable of; to protect ourselves from things that scare us. But you know the thing about those stories? They are all lies, and once you see the lies in one of them it becomes easier to see the lies in the rest of them.
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That’s what happened to me. Jiu jitsu showed me how capable, strong, fierce, and powerful I am. Once I got a taste of that version of Maya, I wanted to pursue it in every aspect of my life. Jiu Jitsu helped me see how I was playing small in my job, with my relationships, and in life at large. And that awareness, is helping me say “Absolutely not! Not anymore!”
Several years later, I am the most empowered version of myself yet! I know I am not alone when I say that brazilian jiu jitsu has completely changed my life! Training BJJ made me want to eat better, sleep better, learn to control my mind, and gave me a community of amazing friends who are always trying to improve themselves. More than anything, jiu jitsu has made me mentally tough; I know that as long as I show up and do the work I can improve at anything. The confidence I have gained and the choices I have made because of BJJ, have made me a woman I love today. Today I am owning my power, my ferocity, my playfulness, my intensity and I am the boss of my life, not my stories.
I know first hand the capacity jiu jitsu has to change lives, I see it over and over again. And I want to encourage more women, who might believe they are “not the type of girl that can do a sport like jiu jitsu”, who don’t know about jiu jitsu, or who know and can’t afford to train; to step on the mat, own their inner ferocity, and create a life they love. That is why I created Alchemize.