New Podcast: Episode 17


In this episode we dig into the relationship between freedom and discipline in the martial arts. Although many of us look for more freedom through our training and practice, how we get to it is a big question. Constraints – inside the classroom and inside our heads – determine a lot about how far we can go. From the group circumstance to the individual experience, creating the right mental framework can determine a great deal about our results.
Listen on iTunes:

Adele’s Kickboxing Experience

“After being on an extended training break from kickboxing, I am now REALLY able to see and appreciate the benefits of my training – more so than the first time around!  I am more energetic and active during the day. Instead of spending my nights in front of a TV or computer, I find myself running to train.  I love the feeling  after a great class, and that feeling alone is enough to keep me from snacking.

“Martial arts to me is about self-defense and awareness. The physical benefits – weight loss, muscle toning – are an added bonus. Being able to train with my husband and the friends I have made motivates me to push thru even the hardest of classes or personal obstacles.

“I am so thankful for all the phone calls, conversations and encouragement from the instructors. They inspire and motivate me. When I was away from the training, they were pushing me to get back on the mat. I love this place!”


Martial Arts Philosophy: To Do “Our Best”

“We do the best we can with what we know, and when we know better, we do better.“
Maya Angelou

What does it mean to “do our best”? It’s a very personal question. After all, everyone’s best is different. In the martial arts classroom, we may all intend to develop ourselves in a positive manner, as the first line of our “Student Creed” goes. In order to have positive outcomes, we need to set positive intentions for ourselves. But to get the measure of “our best”, we have to have the habit of setting those intentions over and over. The creed acts as a guideline, and our teachers as our guides to constantly remind us that we are never the same person today as we were yesterday, and our work is never done.

It starts when we wake up. We begin the day at a crossroads, one way pointing into the direction of positivity and movement, the other towards negativity and stagnation. The clearer our intentions are for the day – what do we want to achieve, who do we want to be – the clearer our path. We can start with a good and healthy breakfast, exercising or some reading to set a positive mindset. This approach lets us experience the day, rather than feeling like we have to tackle it to get it out of the way. Our interactions with friends, family, coworkers and even strangers are filled with more understanding, kindness and love. When we’re in this proactive state of mind, challenges don’t appear as endpoints, but as problems with a solution to be found.

This sort of experience is created through mindset, but our body and spirit have to be in balance as well. These help us endure strenuous challenges and access our potential, whatever is happening for us in the current moment. We have to make the right choices with our lifestyle, nutrition and exercise habits, but that’s not all. We also need to be aware of those things that take a toll on our mental well-being. Surrounding ourselves with positive, like-minded people who also intend to develop themselves in the best way possible is a good place to start. Now that doesn’t mean that their life looks just like ours, or that their path is anything like our own. When we have the right mindset, though, this is a liberating thing: we often go through our lives thinking that our way is the only way, but as we look around we’re reminded that though the goal is the same, the journey for each of us rarely is. Moments that completely throw us off, make us doubt everything that we’ve accomplished so far, appear to another person as just a minor inconvenience.

That our experiences are different without being in conflict lets us recognize those differences as strengths. We can be each other’s biggest supporters. Someone else’s idea, one which never occurred to us, may be a valuable stepping stone, or a trail marker for a way back onto our path. Yes, our efforts are different and our “bests” are not the same. But those variations are a reassurance that we are not alone, that with the right intention we’re connected in the effort to become the best versions of ourselves that we can be.

Sonja Hofstetter
Instructor, Curatorial Research Manager and Archive Administrator
Brooklyn Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

My BBJJ Jiu-Jitsu Experience

Just 2 years ago I weighed 450lbs. I could barely move  – it weighed on me to do a simple task. I had let things go too far for too long and I needed to take action right away. I couldn’t just get on a quick diet or do some exercise every other day. I had to change who I was.

So I dedicated myself to improving my health and fitness. As I made a little progress, my brother-in-law would constantly suggest I try his Jiu-Jitsu school, Brooklyn Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. After some hesitation, I decided to give it a try. And I can honestly say it’s been the best decision I ever made.

        Me before BBJJ…and after 🙂

It took me over a year and a half to lose 100lbs in the gym. After 8 months at Brooklyn Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu I lost about 80lbs. It’s like my instructor often says, “if you put in the work, you’ll see the results. Things aren’t just going to happen…you have to MAKE them happen”.

The gym wasn’t doing it for me. I didn’t realize it at the time, but what I needed was the right environment.

When I came here I couldn’t even do some of the warm-up exercises. My classmates probably remember me wearing sweats because I couldn’t fit into a full uniform.  Nowadays my uniform fits me baggy and I move like I never thought I could.

I’ve gone on to lose more weight since then, but that’s not all. Training here has been an amazing experience…this is a community I want to be a part of. We have the best professors and instructors – they’re great leaders. I want to be an extension of that and I see it here everyday. I’ve found a safe place to train and grow. I haven’t had a partner I was uncomfortable with. Doesn’t matter if we’ve trained together before or not…we all have a bond.  We start with a bow of respect and we end with a handshake.

Like most people, I was hesitant to begin this whole process. What I discovered was that beginner classes here are taught in a friendly, social and noncompetitive environment. It’s 100% geared to teaching the newest students the basics of fitness and self-defense in a safe and effective way.

This school is unlike any Jiu-Jitsu school I’ve ever heard of. They want everyone that comes through the doors to have a safe, professional experience…and it’s by design. You feel like a special person from the moment you walk through the doors – you won’t believe how friendly the students and staff are, and you also won’t believe how clean we keep our school. This is a professional training facility in every sense.