"For decades I scrutinized my body, hated my body, but was attached to it against my will. Then I started jiu-jitsu..."
By Sam Yang - Get similar updates here
Body image is how one perceives themselves — how they imagine others perceive them. When there is an unreasonable belief that their body is defective and in need of "fixing," is when personal opinions can become a disorder. It can coincide with disordered eating, where one finds difficulty controlling their eating behaviors. These descriptions can sound common, and they are — in some level they can exist in all of us. The symptoms are not what creates a disorder; it is the severity. Anorexics are known to walk through doors sideways, believing they will not fit through the door, no matter how thin they are. When symptoms are out of control (out of order) and hinder your ability to live a normal and functional life, is when your self-image becomes an illness.
In a recent project chronicling the experiences of women in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, I received an email from Sara (not her real name). She started jiu-jitsu for fitness reasons but what came out of it was a better relationship with herself that was never possible with any amount of therapy. Rather than write an article interpreting her experiences, here it is (with permission) in her own beautiful words:
"Gi" is the uniform, similar to what they wear in judo. "No-gi" means without the uniform, typically in shorts and a rash-guard or t-shirt.
A "collar-choke" is one of the most dominant submissions in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Inversely, the "shrimp," like the name, is the move a player uses to get out of impossible situations.
"Osu" was a way for men to give general affirmation in Japanese martial arts. Since then it has evolved, especially in Brazilian jiu-jitsu where it has no gender connotations or even a specific meaning. It is used to say "yes," or "hello," or even "thank you." But most of all it is a way to say, "I respect you."
So to Sara, I speak on behalf of everyone who read your letter when I say, OSU!
Special thanks to: Rodrigo Herrera for providing the great artwork for this article. Please check out his other works on his website.