My Most Embarrassing Jiu-Jitsu Moment

5 min read
The day I turned down Andre Galvao

My Most Embarrassing Jiu-Jitsu Moment

The day I turned down Andre Galvao

Location: Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan

Photo by Naomi Suzuki

I never thought I’d tell this story to anyone, let alone write it as an article to be published on the Internet. Every time I think back on it, I wished I had reacted differently. I remember exactly how it felt in the moment it all happened, years ago. My face hot with embarrassment, unable to hide from the eyes of everyone in the room, staring into me like scorching lasers. The pressure to comply but the inability to move. The instant and overbearing regret. I don’t think I can ever forget it.

I had a couple of stripes on my white belt, zero clues, and the opportunity to go to an Andre Galvao seminar. It was an awesome event and packed full of my friends, acquaintances, and so many people I didn’t know. It was exciting, and I felt my adrenaline rushing the entire time. I tried to cram as much information as possible into my limited Jiu-Jitsu mental library and hoped something would stick. Looking back now, all of the other details besides my own mortifying dread and the heavy lessons I learned that day, seem blurry.

Galvao stood in the middle of the huge mat space and the large crowd of us circled around him, leaving an empty arena to roll in. One at a time, he selected a random person from the crowd to roll with him at the centre of everyone’s attention. Smiling and thoroughly enjoying myself, I was loving every minute of my ignorant bliss because I couldn’t wait to watch these rolls. It didn’t cross my mind that I had a chance of being called on; I counted myself out and felt very safe in my anonymous white belt world.

When Galvao pointed at me and called me to come out to join him, my stomach dropped down and out of my body, through the floor, past the Earth’s crust and inner core, into oblivion.

“You mean her?” I pointed to the girl on my left.
No, he shook his head and pointed back at me again.
“HER???” I asked, gesturing desperately to the girl beside me.
No, he pointed a third time, directly at me.
In a last-ditch effort, I sheepishly glanced behind me at a guy I internally prayed would be the one Galvao was really pointing at. But no, it had gone too far, and I was painfully and obviously the one who was being pointed out.

I shook my head, and said no.
Just, no.
I refused. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t feel my body, actually. I wanted to curl up and die, to slink away and hide forever. Frozen in time, my heart pounded in my chest and a fearless woman nearby stood up enthusiastically in my place.

I swallowed the pill of what I had done… and immediately regretted it.

I was consumed with regret. How could I say no to such a fun opportunity?!? Why am I so afraid??? What am I afraid of???

You know the feeling when you messed up as a teenager, and your parents said, “I’m not mad, I’m disappointed”? The disappointment in myself hit me like that… only deeper. I went home later and continued to ruminate. I spent all night thinking about it, and I realized that the regret of not doing the thing that I was scared of was so much what I was afraid of.

I learned a lot about myself that day, as this moment forced me to self-reflect. I know that sometimes we can get paralyzed with fear, scared to put ourselves out there into the uncomfortable. That fear has a way of taking over sometimes and when we are in the grips of it, we can miss out on opportunities for great experiences and the possibility of bettering ourselves. If I’m totally honest, I’m almost always afraid. Afraid of making wrong decisions, afraid to put myself out there, afraid to be judged. Just afraid. But by remaining trapped in this mindset, I become my own worst enemy.

I decided that day that I would never say no like that again. If the only reason I have to not do something is that I am afraid… then I HAVE to do it. I cannot let fear dictate my path. I need to be ready, brave, and willing to step into the uncomfortable in order to accept the opportunities that come my way. The worst that can happen is that I say NO, and I totally miss out. These moments don’t come often, so when you have a rare opportunity that comes your way and that scared-in-your-gut feeling hits you, just remember – Nothing is worse than sitting in your regrets and wishing you had done something differently.

I was lucky enough to get a second chance on day two of the seminar. I was able to take accountability for allowing fear to get in my way, and I got to have that roll with Andre Galvao. I think I blacked out because to this day, I can’t remember even one second of that roll, but the lessons I learned that weekend, I will never forget.



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