Increasing numbers of professional people are choosing martial arts over boring old gym memberships to get fit and get an edge over the competition.
Singapore- based Barbara leads a double life; by day she has a respectable role as a banking risk manager. But when she leaves her office job in the evenings, the jacket comes off, the gi goes on and she grapples with opponents, sweeping and submitting in her Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) class. Barbara has battled at the most prestigious levels; she was 2017’s IBJJF Women’s Blue Belt World Champion.
For Barbara, the appeal for her is the wholeness of the workout, which demands you be present- “it works mind and body at the same time”. She also enjoys the lifestyle; making friends and travelling around the world to compete in tournaments.
This aspect of community comes up again and again; in our increasingly digital and disconnected lives, real human connections matter a lot. Joining a martial arts gym is like joining a family; you advance with the help of your coaches- who fill the role of parents, overseeing and helping- and fellow students, who support and challenge you.
Start-Up Lessons from Sparring
Alyssa lives in California and works with start-ups as a data scientist. She agrees the tight-knit community in martial arts is the best thing about training. She says it has also helped her at work; “it’s made me more confident and better at problem solving- breaking down a problem into steps and executing them in a decision tree format… the skills you learn to be successful make you better at martial arts and vice versa”. It shouldn’t come as a surprise then that Alyssa has been kicking ass in start-up land as well as medalling her way around the grappling circuit.
FLOW Cascais co-founder David has worked all over the world in security and credits martial arts with “helping clear my mind and focus under pressure”- high praise indeed from a man who has worked in extremely hostile environments.
At FLOW we see a lot of professional people joining and getting addicted to muay thai and BJJ. David explains “it allows you to learn so much, not just about yourself but about your opponents too… it helps you understand your competition better”.
So do these white collar ninjas have any advice for those who are curious? Yes- JFDI! Alyssa says, “Do it! The community and skills you’ll learn from MMA will stay with you for life” and Barbara points out you have “nothing to lose but everything to gain”.