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The Benefits of Jiu-Jitsu – “The Ray Family”

“Jiu-jitsu is incredibly important to our family because it has influenced every aspect of our lives. I think this is one of the greatest things that Josh and I (Heather) could ever give to our children and one of the best things we could ever have done for ourselves. Of course there are the obvious benefits of joining a gym, working out more, and/or starting a martial arts program. Increasing your physical activity, losing weight, gaining muscle tone, and improved self defense is appealing to everyone.

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But, these are actually NOT the reasons we spend a majority of our week nights at Vagner Rocha Martial Arts. We could ( and have in the past) put our kids ( all 4 of them) in a local soccer, baseball, or basketball program while I take a few group fitness classes at the local gym each week and Josh maybe stops by a few nights after work to lift weights for an hour. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice, but just “working out” or “playing sports” would not give our family any where near the benefits that jiu-jitsu has given us.

When we are at VRMA, we are all together – all 6 of us. I think it strengthens our bond as a family when we are all training together, watching each other, and learning from each other. It helps us reinforce the values that we are consistently trying to instill in our children like love, honesty, humility, respect for others, loyalty, patience and perseverance. Not only are our children taught these lessons (sometimes the hard way) every time they step on the mat, but they also watch their mom and dad be reminded of them on a daily basis. (Ex: The true definition of humility is when you are a 35 year old man that stands 6’2” and weighs 250 lbs and are triangled and choked out by a 140 lb skinny 15 year old kid they call “ Baby Giraffe” in front of your wife and kids….and everyone else in the gym. Or, when you are a 13 year old boy and you get submitted by a girl that is younger than you … every class. )

Through our jiu-jitsu journey, I think that it has also given each of us a sense of confidence and individuality. It has helped all of our children, from giving Kyron more self confidence and not feeling like he needs to be the “cool kid“ at school, to helping Kaylee become more outgoing and out spoken. Jiu-jitsu gives Jadyn a way to get out her mounds of extra energy, and gives Kason something special to call his own. It helps Josh and I keep things in perspective; reminding us that at the end of the day, the only thing that matters is family( Not to mention it‘s cheaper and more effective than any marriage counseling out there. Where else can you legally choke your spouse? ). It grounds us, it gives us all an outlet to life’s everyday stresses, and it completely simplifies our life. It teaches us how to be disciplined in our diet and our lifestyle and gives our children a consistently positive environment to be surrounded by. The best thing about jiu-jitsu, and more so at VRMA than any other school I have been in, is that, on the mat everyone is equal. To me, when we are there, life is how it should be. There is every nationality, religion, sexual preference, political opinion, belief, race, color, ability, disability, back ground, social class, and so on … that you could imagine. Yet, we are all family, we all accept each other for who we are, respect each other, and most importantly, we all love each other.

This is the most important lesson that we can teach our children – to love and respect each other despite our differences. There are no ego’s here – no one is more important than anyone else. There is no “star” of the team or “bench warmer”. There are no disabilities or special treatment. We all sweat, bleed, laugh, fight, play, and cry together. We all struggle and become frustrated at some point and need to be lifted up. We all have moments when we are discouraged and need a little positive guidance and perspective. We all get tired and need to be pushed to keep going. We all experience excitement and being on top of the world and need someone to celebrate with. And at one time or another, we all forget how small we really are in this world and need to be reminded. We all are working toward a common goal – just to be a little better today, than we were yesterday. This is why I love our VRMA family so much and why we call this place our home. I have said this before and will say it again: It has been said that, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Our Jiu-jitsu family is our village – even those that are within our community that we do not train with on a daily basis. These are the people that influence our children and are the role models that they look up to. There is no other village that I would choose- no other family in which I would rather for our children to be reared. For this, I am very thankful jiu-jitsu and for VRMA. I am very happy Josh and I have chosen this way of life for our family.”

(written by: Heather Ray)

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