by James Eke
You are thinking about trying Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. Maybe you have tried other things or maybe you still do. Maybe you’ve heard how much fun it is from friends. Maybe you have done a little research or have seen it on TV or other places.
But why do it?
Why should you drag yourself out to the Academy when you have a perfectly good couch to sit on, a big screen TV and all the stuff you fill your life with — why would you give up all of that to roll around on the ground with other people a few days a week? Why would you want to train in something that from everything you’ve heard will take a decade or longer before you can say you are a black belt when the people you know all got belts in their martial arts every few months and a black belt in three years or less?
The answer to all of this is pretty simple actually — because Brazilian Jiu-jitsu is one of those things in life that allows for no BS. It is one of the most honest, most intimate, most sincere, most real and most human martial arts you are going to find.
Sure, there are plenty of schools out there that will place the emphasis of the training on competition or on the belt around the waist but at the end of the day, BJJ is a deeply personal and satisfying martial art that teaches us about ourselves in a way that few other places in our modern world will.
You can tell yourself how awesome you are. You can spend hours in front of a mirror doing a myriad of things to make yourself believe you are something. Then go one round in BJJ and you will see where your self-delusion stops and reality is shown to you and exactly what you need to work on becomes obvious.
BJJ teaches us about respect for ourselves and those around us in a more old-school way of thinking and doing. You might not think much of that older guy who you think is out of shape until you try to roll with him and find yourself crushed and struggling just to breathe. You might be the most sexist guy on the planet until that young girl wraps you up and taps you out. You might give the thought of quitting smoking, hitting the gym, eating better some token acknowledgement but within a month of going to regular Jiu-jitsu classes you will not only start to watch what you eat but the thought of doing something that is only going to ‘gas you out’ sooner will be quickly deleted from your lifestyle.
Jiu-jitsu is one of the last bastions of what our ancestors knew to be obvious and regular and normal every day life. You know you will come to class any given night and have to run the gauntlet of ‘rolling rounds’ with people who when you are finished will love you like your closest friend but at the time simply want to see what they can do to make your life suck, find your weakness, exploit it, and walk away smiling.
It is a modern game of something very ancient. Two people becoming intimate with the ultimate understanding of life and death. And the knowledge that nothing makes you feel more alive than a little suffering and enduring.
Jiu-jitsu is hard. Sometimes it is very hard. But it is also one of the greatest gifts that the martial arts world has given to us.
You don’t have to be super flexible. You don’t have to be built like a track star. You don’t have to develop high kicks or super powers. What you need to do is show up, leave your ego outside, push yourself, have fun, admit you know nothing, and repeat this for good.
There is good reason it takes so long to get a black belt in Jiu-jitsu because it is the lessons of sweat and time and pushing ourselves that matter the most.
We learn that our own personal dramas don’t matter. We learn that no matter how great we think we are will will still be pinned to the mats. We will give up on any desires for new belts because we know that all they do is hold our uniform together and too much grasping for them leads to the exact opposite of what is true and good about Jiu-jitsu.
In the world we all live in today where we have allowed ourselves to become over-complicated and distracted from what it really means to be a human being we need things like Brazilian Jiu-jitsu more than ever.
We need to be reminded of what it means to be human. Not from a lofty view but from the ground up. We need to feel the struggle inside. We need to be uncomfortable and stuck and pinned under something and then to find it within ourselves to break the chains that bind us and learn what it is to discover that with time, with control, with understanding we can do anything.
Jiu-jitsu teaches us that we already possess everything we need. To master it though — to master life — takes time. It takes courage. It takes sacrifice. It takes letting go of ego and fear. It takes pushing ourselves. It takes shutting our mouth. It takes opening our mind. It takes stepping onto the mats and making a change in our lives that will forever change every single aspect of who and what we are.
That is what Jiu-jitsu is.
That is why you should do Brazilian Jiu-jitsu.