Why do people start BJJ? Maybe they are looking for self-defense, a new way to workout, or a new martial art. It’s possible they are a UFC fan, or saw someone on Instagram gushing about BJJ. Sometimes a buddy drags another to the mat. Perhaps they are just curious about that martial arts place down the street. Whatever the reason, once we get on the mat, we all become the same.
One of the top reasons that people want to start training Jiu Jitsu is for self-defense. They may have been bullied, assaulted or worse; driving them to look for a method of avoiding these issues in the future. The good news is that BJJ is perhaps the best self-defense tool a person can have at their disposal. There is of course the technique, which emphasizes leverage, structure and posture. The art of BJJ allows an average person to take advantage of human instincts and control another human effectively. Beyond the technique itself, BJJ instills confidence, reducing the chances of becoming a target. It also trains your mind to stay calm in frightening situations. I just read something today on Reddit by a woman who had previously been assaulted. Her post detailed a recent situation where she calmly denied a male’s advances, indebting her mind state to a year of jiu jitsu training.
Let’s face it, the Gracie family’s idea of proving the superiority of BJJ versus other martial arts was a huge success. Nowadays, BJJ training is mandatory for any UFC fighter – ubiquitous as boxing. The stereotype of the UFC fan is a meathead who boos at the “boring” and “confusing” tangle of jiu jitsu on the mat, but this is not always the truth. For every 100 people who watch a UFC event, maybe a handful say to themselves “I’d like to see if I could do that”. The next step is to find a local gym and sign up.
As it turns out, grappling for a hobby is an amazing workout! Many new to Jiu Jitsu are shocked to find how exhausting a session can be. What’s more, the workout is almost a secondary aspect of training. Meaning, much of the time you are not thinking about getting through one more set, another mile, or 10 more minutes of cardio. You are instead thinking about what your partner is doing and how you can counter it. You are reflecting on the current “game” and how you can win, in a way “tricking” your mind to keep burning more calories. There are countless stories of people losing dramatic amounts of weight by sticking with Jiu Jitsu.
Friends, Family, or Celebrities
Some people relent after months of badgering by their grappler friends and get on the mats. There are moms and dads who sign their kids up, and eventually see enough benefit to start training themselves. Thus BJJ can be a family activity that brings all closer together. Finally, as the popularity of BJJ spreads, people like Jonah Hill, Demi Lovato, Russel Brand, Joe Rogan and more are becoming ambassadors of the art. No doubt they are influencing some people to try it out.
These are just some of the reasons that people start Jiu Jitsu. For each individual starting BJJ, we probably cannot sum the combination of reasons into a singular goal. Whatever the reasons, the BJJ community is happy to have more training partners with which we can share the power of this art.