Having now been training for almost two months I feel as though I am no longer the new guy, many new faces have commenced their BJJ journey in the time from here to now. I try my best to welcome them as I was welcomed and be a friendly face to spot out. It is amazing seeing the range of people and body types come into training, from some old boys and a lot more women than I would have thought. Short to tall, stick thin to the odd beer belly. It is very different from other martial arts. Where there are mostly men, mostly somewhat athletic builds, the odd person that breaks the mold. So, I have been thinking, what makes Jiu-jitsu so different? Why are people attracted to the martial art?
- The simple complexity.
Jiu-jitsu is actually quite complex (as I am finding out); however, the complex is made simple in its teaching. The complexity of body weight, positional control, timing, leverage, physics, and biology. All can be taught, through drilling and rolling. Through drilling you are taught via your instructor, rolling you are taught from your experiences. Both are needed for overall development. However, drilling is where you learn the complexities, the little nuances. Where you should have your body weight, over your heals, through your opponent, on your hands. When you should use certain techniques, pass, continue to control or submit. Rolling is where you learn if you should let something go to either reset or move on to another submission or a better position. The joy in learning comes from the challenge of the complexities, even though the concepts are simple. Worst case scenario (if it ends up on the ground), get into a dominant position, control and submit. Best case, walk away.
- It just works.
Having come from other martial arts that are focused on striking, Jiu-jitsu is very different. In a fight where anything can happen, you can know the fanciest kick and you could still get clipped by someone with little to no experience. Whereas with Jiu-jitsu, in the worst case, an attacker on top of you throwing punches, you do have a chance. Trap and roll, get into mount, control and finish the fight. From the get-go, you can see that it works, you can feel that it works. When you are drilling and slowly getting the concepts, you can understand that if you are untrained and get into a difficult position you are pretty much fucked. I have a strong belief that knowing how to defend yourself is a skill everyone must learn, and everyone should dabble in all aspects of a fight, however, if I only had one skill in a fight, it would be Jiu-jits. I was showing one of my friends the effectiveness of it recently, he was a bit hesitant, but I convinced him to at least let me show him that he should learn a little bit of jiu-jitsu. I told him that in Jiu-jitsu you are still able to finish a fight even off your back, to demonstrate this I used him as the attacker, and in less than 30 seconds I put him in a triangle, to which he was very impressed with the effectiveness of BJJ. It was at that moment when I thought about if he had actually been an attacker and had I not known any Jiu-jitsu, he would have easily done a lot of damage.
- The underlying culture of the art.
Jiu-jitsu as a martial art has one of the best cultures, one that is welcoming, positive, ego-free, so fun you want to do and learn more. Obviously, this will change from place to place. However, you can see the laid-back attitude, the happy go lucky smiles, and family orientated values that originate with the Gracie family which have spread on to their students. I have not met any of the Gracie’s yet, but you can see it in videos and media, which is so appealing to many people, especially those that are timid and shy. It is amazing seeing people grow, even though I have only been training for a small amount of time, I have witnessed many transformations. At our academy, two brothers started a few months ago, and just this week they both received their first stipe. When they started they were very shy, but when they got their stripes, you couldn’t wipe the smiles off their faces. They have also come out of their shells, even if only a little bit, it is still some form of growth. The culture allows for people to grow, it isn’t one of put-downs and shaming, it’s one of congratulations and constructive tips.
- The many lessons and skills that can be gained from it.
The usual skills that can be gained from other martial arts like discipline, controlling one’s emotions, improved self-esteem, work ethic, etc. are all apart of Jiu-jitsu. However, I believe that Jiu-jitsu has more to offer, skills and life lessons that are applicable all throughout one’s life. Being humble and removing your ego is one of the life lessons that many should learn, training BJJ you are constantly put into compromised positions, since that you must be the feed for your partner when drilling. You have to remove your ego and let them practice a triangle or a Rear naked choke, obviously, if you let your ego get in the way, you won’t have a partner. One of the biggest ones that I have learned recently, is to let go and trade up. Can’t complete the Kimura, take the back. Can’t get the triangle, double ankle sweep. This can be applied in life, can’t get the promotion, leave and find a different company. Girlfriend leaves you, use the time to hang out with friends and family. You can always see the positive in each situation, it’s all about perspective.
- Your body size, strength, flexibility does not matter.
Seeing the range of people and body types are proof that you don’t have to be of a certain type of person or athletic ability. Even when I have watched competitions there are many different styles and body types. Jiu-jitsu accommodates for all. Seeing as BJJ was designed for the weaker and smaller person, its able to be performed by anyone. I would recommend it as the first martial art to learn to anyone wanting to learn self-defense, it is practical and having some knowledge is better than no knowledge.
These points I have made are only the surface of the martial art, I hope to gain more understanding of Jiu-jitsu and learn more about what it has to offer not just to me but to others. It is a challenging sport, but the hardest thing, like in many cases, is to start. Jiu-jitsu has really opened up a lot of things for me, and to be honest, the only trouble that I have with it is that I didn’t start it sooner. So, if you think you would like to learn it, then learn it, look up an academy, call up, come down. Walking through the doors is the hardest thing, but get in the car and do it.
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See you on the mats.