The martial arts journey can be really gritty, and sometimes other factors in life don’t make it any easier for you. But we recall a lovely song lyric that goes, “If you don’t quit, you win!” And we reckon that like all great loves, your favourite martial art should be worth sticking it out for, through the good times and the bad.
Whether it was after a whole year of feeling awkward, experiencing frequent switches in instructors at the gym, or overcoming self-doubt and negative mindsets, our Assistant Instructors pulled through teething problems to continue pursuing their love for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ). And we are so glad that they did not quit!
Perhaps the Circuit Breaker caused you to slide into a space of “un-motivation” and you are seriously questioning if it’s worthwhile continuing your martial arts membership. Well, read these stories and tell us if you still feel the same after that!
"I did Taekwondo from 7-10 years old; I started out of being stereotyped. All the kids expected that as an Asian, I should know some type of martial art, and Taekwondo was the only accessible training at that time. Yet I never really found a connection to it. After that, I played field hockey and even captained the 1st XI in my final year of high school. I also surfed all through my youth to young adult days, and even took up scuba diving in 2005. When I moved to Singapore, I did Spartan races in 2014 and 2015. It was only in 2017, at the age of 40, that I discovered my infinite love for BJJ through FaMA.
The main reason for starting BJJ was to keep Krysta and Oscar motivated. However, it's now difficult to find a day where I don’t train to be better at it for myself.
To be honest, I felt awkward for almost the first year of training, so almost every day I trained was a laugh. The funniest moment that sticks out the most was a few months ago, sparring with Oli (fellow Blue Belt and occasional Assistant Instructor for the kids' classes). Professor Robyn was watching us, and just as I was starting to set up the move of the week, I could hear him getting so excited and coaching the move. I couldn’t help myself and had to tell him to stop telegraphing the move to Oli. We all burst into laughter, almost unable to finish our sparring round.
I also always thought my double leg/single leg takedowns were pretty good until I came across our classmate Khai, and those tree trunks he calls legs.
I feel like one will always face obstacles in training, but the toughest for me personally, was competing the first time. I was physically ill the night before!
I would tell any newbie to the martial art that it is ok to feel self-conscious, embarrassed, or awkward starting out. Everyone started somewhere, and we all probably felt silly one point or another. It’s through a lot of effort, mat time, and perseverance that martial artists get where they are today.”
"I started training Taekwondo at the age of 8 because my parents wanted me to learn how to defend myself. My older brother was also heavily invested in Taekwondo (winning competitions and State Championships), and I wanted to follow his footsteps. However, I quit after a few years as it was too rigid. Instead, I focused on football from the age of 12 till my university days.
The discovery into martial arts began in 2012 when I wanted to do something exciting that did not involve weights or football. I came across mixed martial arts, which looked fun. 6 months in, I switched my focus to BJJ and have been training in the Gi ever since.
One thing I will always remember is the fact that I got triangle choked in less than 30 seconds in my very first competition as a white belt. Back then in Malaysia, it was common for white and blue belts to compete against each other. I was matched up against a very good blue belt and he got me in the submission just as I shot a bad double leg takedown. This person (who is a friend now) received his black belt around the same time I received my purple belt. :)
A big obstacle in my training would be suffering injuries in my years as a white belt. It didn't help, too, that the first academy I'd been in did not have a consistent instructor.
I also used to believe the hearsay that strength and conditioning is not necessary, and technique conquers all. In reality, strength and conditioning is extremely important for longevity, joint health, and overall injury prevention!
The best advice I'd heard was from Chris Haueter, a veteran black belt. In regards to living the martial arts lifestyle, he said: "It is not about who's good, but who's left."He explained that there were champions who trained alongside him that were burnt out and they've completely abandoned BJJ because of all the pressure they've put on themselves. The biggest takeaway I got from him was to enjoy the journey without adding any pressure, and that has been with me ever since.
As such, I would tell many fresh (and not so fresh) practitioners to not compare their journey to others. Everyone has a different reason why they started martial arts. Focus on your own journey, and be at peace with it.”
"I was into ballet and hip hop growing up, though inconsistent. In my early twenties, I gained a lot of weight and wanted to get skinny. I’d try running, but hated it. Later on, I got into aerial acrobatics and became obsessed. I was into the whole “strong female” image at that point, so later on, the idea of doing BJJ and being a tough girl appealed to me.
For the longest time, I’d capitalise on my flexibility and mobility as a former dancer. I'd use it to not get my guard passed. I won competitions and sparring sessions just by the fact that I could keep someone in guard, and let their frustration cause their own mistakes (hence securing my win). I suppose it’s something you can lean on as a white belt, but as I trained more I learned that you need more than just flexibility, mobility, and “good guard retention”. It also dawned on me that I needed to learn how to pass someone's guard after sweeping them. :)
Much later on, I began to accept that good Jiu-Jitsu comes by virtue of consistency and understanding. It was hard to get out of my old thinking, and I had to choose humility in order to grow. It was one of the hardest things I had to do but I think I am better for it.
A lot of self-doubt and concern about other people’s opinions held me back from loving my training. I feel like I spent a long time “doing BJJ” because I thought it was the only way to be accepted by others in the scene. However, the most memorable advice I received was from one of my professors, who had given me my blue belt. He said, "I don't care if you compete or not; I just want you to be happy training, and not quit." This assurance never sank in till much later, a few months shy of my purple belt promotion.
Whether to a kid or an adult, I would tell a fellow practitioner to be brave and be yourself on the mats. No one is more awesome on the mats than those who are most willing to be themselves with no fear of other people’s opinions. Also, it's okay to cry on bad days. Seriously, just get it out of your system."
FaMA - Fitness and Martial Arts Established in 2016, FaMA is a world-class martial arts academy located in the heart of the Central Business District in Singapore. Walking distance from Clarke Quay and Fort Canning MRT stations, FaMA’s main goal is to help people improve their lives through martial arts regardless of age or athletic capability. Our Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ), Muay Thai Kickboxing, Kids Martial Arts and Fitness programs are led by experts in their respective fields. So, whether it is weight loss, a fun workout, camaraderie, competition training, or just to break a sweat, FaMA has something for the whole family.