What is BJJ?
It’s difficult to articulate what BJJ really is. From the outside it just looks like people rolling around on the ground, hugging. In reality, it is an intricate game of inches supported by a foundation of technique and strategy. If you’ve never tried it before, I probably sound crazy.
What makes BJJ so attractive?
This is an easier question to answer.
You have a technique in mind, a goal, maybe even a result on the mats of a competition. A desire solidified in an idea. To be able to translate this idea into a practical, achievable pattern of movement takes both mental and physical effort. The effort it takes to achieve your desired result in Jiu-Jitsu is analogous to any struggle in life.
When you undertake something difficult, you walk along a path where the goal may be distant and the feedback in your pursuit towards the goal, delayed. Within the dynamic of the Jiu-Jitsu mats, you embody the same cognitive processes of goal-oriented action but the feedback is near instantaneous. Deviate from the right path and boom – your opponent is strangling you, bending your arm behind your back, or crushes your face with an immense shoulder pressure. It sounds barbaric but is actually very civilised.
It’s not just a sport
The lessons that you can learn from grappling another person, transcend the mat.
Any substantial improvement in Jiu-Jitsu requires diligence. The amount of time spent training before you reach a black belt is on average, twelve years. When you begin training, you spend the majority of your time being dominated by most training partners before you develop an appropriate level of competency to be able to be on the reverse end of the beatings for some time.
The sheer complexity of the art is very hard to articulate without trying it. However, if you can imagine the volume of ‘risk-reward’ or ’cause-effect’ calculations required to transition safely from one position to the next, and then to submit an opponent, who could sometime be a lot heavier than you, you will see that it is not a straightforward process.
The mentally challenging aspect of the art is made all the more difficult by having to develop a physical discipline to control your flailing limbs.
‘Victory’ can also be difficult to define. It is a felt experience in Jiu-Jitsu. Mostly found through comparing the skills of your current self to the skills of your previous self. The rewards to be found in overcoming adversity and refining your skills are great. I have seen many people including myself sacrifice many habits that caused them to deviate from the ideal version of themselves in pursuit of better skills on the mat.
Mind and Body, Strategy and Intellect
If you were to tell people that fighting can be an intellectual pursuit, you would be laughed at in most circles. It is like a physical debate. It’s not the loudest nor strongest individual that can win, it’s he who can most honestly articulate, express and refine their line of argumentation, in this case physical.
When all is said and done after an intense training session of otherwise civilised citizens attempting to simulate murder on each other, the room is full of sweat and smiles. I hardy have the verbal faculties to express how blissful and developmental of an experience this can be, the beauty of the art is implicit in the actions.