Meet Jesus, OpenText™ colleague from Madrid, Spain. He’s one of the top Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fighters in all of Europe! In this post, he talks about where his love of Jiu-Jitsu came from, and all of the meaningful life lessons he’s learned from it along the way.
How did you first get into martial arts?
Like many kids, I started practicing Judo in primary school. In Spain, it’s common to practice a lot activities outside of school time, so when it came to martial arts, Judo and Karate were the most popular at that time. Still to this day, when people ask me which type of martial art is best for kids to start with, I always say that any traditional martial art will do. The values you get from martial arts as a kid will accompany you for the rest of your life: respect, teamwork, perseverance, self confidence and so many more.
It was not until college that I got back into martial arts with Kick Boxing. After college, I trained traditional Jiu-Jitsu for several years and got black belt second degree. I also competed and won some tournaments! But, when I started my second university degree, I took a break from sports for quite a while, which I now regret. I don’t recommend taking a break from sports in your thirties, because in your forties and onward, it’s much more difficult to develop or keep your muscle mass.
Over the years, I practiced other martial arts like Wing Chun, Krav Maga and Boxing until I fell in love with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, where I’m about to get purple belt.
Can you explain what Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is all about?
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (or BJJ) is a martial art derived from traditional Japanese Jiu-Jitsu. Jiu-Jitsu was initially developed centuries ago as a close combat art against armored or armed opponents. Although it involves some striking, it mostly incorporates grappling, using throws, joint locks, chokes, etc. It’s all about using the opponent’s strength against them. In one way or another, Jiu-Jitsu today is the base fighting system for all military and police forces worldwide.
Fun fact: The word “Jiu-Jitsu” means “Gentle Art” in English!
BJJ was created by the Gracie family in Brazil and focuses on ground fighting (“Ne Waza”). The Gracie’s found that very often fights would end on the ground and also it was much easier to control a bigger and stronger opponent by employing ground techniques.
BJJ competitions are very intense but no striking is allowed. BJJ is very popular nowadays as it’s a base system in Mixed Martial Arts like UFC.
What’s your favourite part about Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?
Jiu-Jitsu is a very humbling experience. No matter how much you learn and improve over time, you will always find someone who is much better than you. This means that for you to keep practicing the art, you must first understand that it’s not about the goal but about the journey. That’s why a lot of Jiu-Jitsu practitioners are incredibly humble and balanced.
There’s also an important social part to it. You develop a bond with your teammates and other competitors; it’s a community that feels like family. I’ve even traveled the world and had the chance to train in some fantastic places where I always found open doors, like the amazing Triune Team in Santa Clara, USA.
And finally, one of the most meaningful aspects of Jiu-Jitsu is the fighting spirit. There are only a few sports that give you the chance to push your mind and body to the limit and fight against your opponent, but in a sportive way. Once you experience that rush, Jiu-Jitsu remains part of you forever.
It sounds like you’ve competed in (and won) several prestigious Jiu-Jitsu championships! Can you tell us more about some of those?
I’m proud to be part of the Mathias Ribeiro Team, one of the best teams in Europe. There’s a very competitive spirit on our team, and we make sure to attend as many events as we can across Europe. I’m in my forties, but I compete at least three or four times a year. I’ve won two times the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation (IBJJF) European Masters Tournament in my category and several International and Open competitions. My dream is to go to the IBJJF Worlds Masters Tournament in Las Vegas one day.
We heard that you train over 12 hours each week! How do you balance of all your life’s priorities?
These days, I train around 12 hours per week, but some years ago, I trained even more than that. I’m lucky to have my team’s gym near the office – that allows me to leverage my time as efficiently as possible. Although I must admit, quarter ends can be very challenging!
In the end, training is a matter of discipline. But, at the same time, it also helps me to relieve stress. Jiu-Jitsu is a part of me; I don’t feel like myself when I’m away from it for too long.
Have you learned any important life lessons through practicing Jiu-Jitsu?
I think we – as humans – use relationships and activities as mirrors in which find ourselves. We develop and get to know our inner selves by relating to others and trying new things – and sports are part of that. After practicing and competing in martial arts, I’ve learned that you are your toughest opponent. To be able to win against somebody, you must first conquer your fears and insecurities, know your strengths and push your boundaries. Before entering into a competition, that fight has already happened in your head in a lot of different ways.
Also, as with any other sport, injuries are part of the game and overcoming them is a life experience on its own. This past year, I tore my meniscus and managed to avoid surgery by extensive physical rehabilitation. I even made it to win my second IBJJF European Masters and UAE London National Pro.
Anything else you’d like to share?
It’s never too late to start practicing a martial art. You don’t need to compete to get the benefits of the sport. I encourage anyone who is hesitant to find a club and start a journey that will make you a better version of yourself.
Jiu-Jitsu is not only a sport, but it’s also a way of life. Practitioners share interest for healthier ways of living and you can relate with those people all over the world.
And lastly, as we say in Jiu-Jitsu, “OSS”! That means respect, commitment and trust.
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