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Never say Never | My Love Story With Brazilian Jiujitsu


Tony, a good friend of mine, showed me a video of him in this gym class he was going to, some kind of foreign fighting thing. All I could see was that he was getting “beaten up” in many different ways. He decided to demonstrate and trapped my head and shoulder between his legs. It was not funny to me!

I had two takeaways that day.

That whatever thing he was doing was:

brutally dangerous, and

inappropriately intimate.

I said to myself: I’ll NEVER do that!

Years went by, and that strange fighting thing didn’t cross my mind for even a second.

(GIF from Xiaojie 图片来自小杰)

Until one day

I went to a gathering my friend hosted. I met Andres there for the first time, and then my old friend (tall pale Max) showed up as well. In our conversation it turned out both they and another friend of mine somehow all went to this thing called Brazilian gibberish. Never quite caught the name that night. I thought to myself: ‘They are all pretty cool people and if they’re into the same thing, I should probably check it out! Plus, I might be having a crush on Andres.’

I became friends with Andres, and at some point, I asked him to take me there. Andres had a business trip coming up and I didn’t want to wait a week until he came back. Tall pale Tom was going that Monday night, and he said he could bring me to a trial class.

That was a cool class!

I had no idea what I was doing, but I absolutely loved it. I wanted to “fight” after class. Charlie, who was teaching that night, said the most important thing for me is to go back home in one piece and come back to fight another time.

I knew I loved it right then and there on that mat that regular Monday night. I believe this is what people mean when they say: “Love at first sight”.

‘Wait, I think that might be the weird martial art thing Tony showed me a long time ago…’

(图片来自柔友, Photo by BJJ friends)

Love Transcends

I’ve always believed that love is easy. I am not denying the work that comes with it; the easy part is choosing to do the hard work! I took Charlie’s advice and came back as a member only two days later, despite the fact that I had no answers to my concerns.

I didn’t know how I could re-arrange my time, the gym is kind of “far” from where I live, and I was scared of possibly injuring myself – which are all important factors in my decision making! Some decisions are just so easy to make.

I have a slight “injury phobia” tendency. It started when I injured my lower back pretty bad in 2005 and couldn’t bear any weight for a few years and had to live with a 5-year-long chronic pain, day and night. If after countless treatments, one day, you had to get out of a car at the end of a road, walk through the mud to a village “doctor” in the middle of nowhere, pay hundreds for a few bags of mud to put on your lower back and not shower for days because you were so desperate, you could possibly develop traumatophobia as well.

Somehow, with Brazilian JiuJistu (BJJ), I stood up to my phobia and struck a deal: “deal with it as they come!” I also believe that if you love something, you would choose it no matter how busy you are. Love directs! Love also travels. I have to travel from Sanlitun to Dongdaqiao almost every day! It’s okay! (If you know me, you’d know I arranged my life to work, play and sleep on my watch, for efficiency and commuting stress management. So these daily commutes are kind of a big deal.)

(Image from Xiaojie 图片来自小杰)


Andres asked me one day: “Why do you love it?”

I probably said something along the line of “I love the fact that BJJ uses momentum, finds the path of least resistance and takes an energy saving approach to fighting. This is the same approach that I try to take towards life. It had to do with how cool BJJ moves look, and most importantly, how much respect I hold for the people that I met and train with. They are super cool, blah, blah, blah!”

My mind was trying to interpret the feelings I’d experienced. Does my brain always know what my heart desires? Not always. It tries to work backwards and find out why, but that’s unnecessary.

I love BJJ because when I am on the mat, I am nowhere else.

When I am on the mat, voices of worry in life disappear and even the grand wishes for my future do not exist. I am in the state of “BEING!” I feel at peace with myself and the world that I live in.

(picture from Xiaojie 图片来自小杰)


So, it’s called Brazilian jiujitsu (BJJ). It took me a week or two to pronounce it accurately. Imagine that I told people I train Brazilian Jijisu/jujiusu/jiujiuzu over dinners for half a month!

I love the social jiujitsu part, where people just fight each other on the mat after class.

“What do you mean, social BJJ?”, a fellow BJJ club-member asked me when I mentioned it.

“Oh, you know, the part where you partner up socially after a class. Like on lindy hop nights, there’s usually a dance class. People stay and dance socially afterwards. We call it social dance. So, I guess social BJJ”, I answered.

“Oh, you mean rolling, or sparring!” That’s the term used for BJJ.

“Rolling”, I replied, ‘yeah, I am feeling it’.

(picture from Xiaojie 图片来自小杰)

One World, One BJJ

I became a BJJ person!

Boy, do I bring BJJ everywhere I go! Very soon, I brought my lindy hop friends there, people that I work with, my yoga friends, and occasionally some people I randomly meet in a bar or at a potluck night! BJJ became something I talked about, a lot.

When I travel, I always do some research on local BJJ clubs and go check them out. It’s always fun to learn and roll with people from other places, and socialize with them. I was in L.A. around Halloween in 2019 and joined a training session there with spider webs on the wall! I partnered with Jessica, a purple belt. Never saw a lady purple belt ever in my life (that’s 1.5 months into my BJJ life;)! She was so nice to me and I felt at home there. I do hope to see her in Beijing at my gym some time!

For my most recent trip, I was in Mianyang (Sichuan) and Chongqing. I was so happy to see that my hometown offers BJJ classes. Since it’s a much smaller place than Beijing, one place was coached by a blue belt. Another place, interestingly, was coached by a – wait for it – orange belt! W*F! I would surely tell you that story on a comedy open mic night some time! I had a great time in Chongqing, and was very impressed by how many clubs there are, how good the classes were, and how good people were with BJJ. I very much enjoyed that one class done in Sichuan dialect! I chatted with the owner afterwards and he knew so much about BJJ and Beijing-based big shots! He started his BJJ journey in Beijing, and brought it back home in 2015, if I remember correctly. How wonderful it was to see how everything was connected and blooming.

My trips also brought me a great deal of appreciation for my gym, and I feel incredibly lucky to be trained by our amazing coaches, and roll with people who hold up the BJJ spirit and are also so multi-talented.

This is where I just want to sing: one world, one BJJ!

The Commitment

Few years ago, I was on a date with a guy that I matched with online. He’s a black belt of some kind of martial art. I do remember that he said he’s a black belt, and told me something about it. I remember he paused at the end of the story to kind of wait for my reaction. However, I didn’t know anything about martial art at all, and wasn’t even interested.

All I could say, in all honesty, was: “……hmm, okay.”

Now, after a few years, if you happen to be reading this, I wish I had said: “Oh wow, so what are you doing this weekend?!” That’s so many years of hard work, dedication, passion and persistence. That is something I am drawn to!

Sometimes I hear myself using the word “committed” when describing my relationship with BJJ. I had to auto-correct myself. It’s not a “commitment”. I do not plan to spend the rest of my life with it like it’s something that I have to add to my calendar, but I do feel like I will spend the rest of my life with it. It’s like the heart that beats in my chest. It’s absurd to “commit” to it, it’s a part of me, and an expression of my “self”. I cannot find the right word for it, but when I do, I’ll write again.

For now, I’m gonna get ready for tonight’s BJJ class.


Life gets busy sometimes, in a way that life was living me instead. Too many times, I was in places where I was struggling to find time for things or people that I recharge me. Not even long ago, there was a month that I stopping going to BJJ class, partly because of injuries, and partly because some elements of life became dominating and threw me off balance. I kinda saw that coming though when I bit off more than I could chew. That’s a pattern that I had, and it’s really hard for me not to do that. Luckily, last year, when I realized I could not make it BJJ classes for a few weeks, I knew that I need to change things. I have been seeing a therapist, which also helped me to re-center myself. That was a close call for burnout. Now looking back, I am glad I could see the momentum of my motions, and how many times I could go to BJJ class became a compass for me. Isn’t that what BJJ is about? Strong base and do get thrown off balance!

(all names were replaced by made up names for privacy reasons, except Jessica)








(Photo from the internet 图片来自网络)



后来我和Andres成了朋友,有次聊天时我就让他带我去看看那个巴西的格斗术。Andres正好要出差,我又不想花一个星期等他回来。 Max刚巧周一当天晚上就去,他说他可以带我去上一节体验课。





(GIF from Xiaojie 图片来自小杰)







(picture from Xiaojie 图片来自小杰)







(picture from Xiaojie 图片来自小杰)


如你们所知,巴西柔术的名字是Brazilian jiujitsu (BJJ)。我两个星期才弄明白到底是怎么发音的。原来半个月以来,跟朋友聚会时,说到柔术的名字的时候,我都是自我发挥的:什么Brazilian Jijisu/jujiusu/jiujiuzu…





(picture from Xiaojie 图片来自小杰)




最近一次旅行,我去了四川绵阳和重庆。回到家乡以后,还能找到巴西柔术课真的让我喜出望外。绵阳是个四线城市了吧 (但是我们独一无二的特色“米粉”),我只找到两个馆有柔术课,一个馆是个真正的格斗馆,老师是蓝带,我在他的课上学会了很多新招数。让我惊吓到爆笑的是另一个馆,一周只有一节柔术课,场地和设备都还不错,教练就绝了,那个缎带——怕是你猜也猜不到——是“橙带”!什么鬼!那趟课就更可怕了,老师各种开天辟地的“自由发挥”,我觉得这个笑料包可以拿到喜剧现场去抖抖了!家乡市中心就这么一个地方有柔术课,我也很担心这样“柔术”教学会不会让来体验的新人这一辈子都不想接触柔术了,我给他们的客服反应了我的课程体验,完全都不理我的,我也是醉了。








有时候我听自己用“承诺”这样的词来描述我和巴西柔术之间的关系。 我得“自动纠正”下我自己。不是“承诺”, 如果用“承诺”去描述心脏在胸腔中的跳动,听着会很奇怪吧。我不打算把巴西柔术像是工作会议一样都加到我的日程表里。柔术像是我的生命发动机的一部分,它是“我”的一种表达方式。






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