The next time you are seated on the mats, with your back against the wall after rolling some rounds and talking with a new training partner, I want you to try asking them this question: “What made you decide to try Jiu-Jitsu?”
I’ve always been fond of asking new people that I meet in the Gracie Barra school this question. And I have often been surprised by their answers. There is an old saying “you can’t judge a book by its cover” – and I’ve certainly been surprised by some of the answers given by unlikely individuals.
Some of the answers you receive might surprise you and even possibly give you a new perspective on your own reasons for training. This article may more accurately be titled: “the reasons that some students told me that they started Jiu-Jitsu” – but that didn’t fit quite so neatly in the title.
1) Self defense. This is by far the most popular reason given. Many people have felt the uncertainty of just what would they do in the event of a physical encounter in the street? You might add the bullying problem for school-aged kids and women’s concerns for their personal security under this reason. At one point the new student decided to do something about their fears and try Jiu-Jitsu for self-defense.
2.) A new physical fitness activity. Bored of lifting weights and the monotony of riding on a stationary bike, they decided to try martial arts as a new way to stay physically fit.
3) Always wanted to try taking a martial art. Perhaps they became fascinated by the fight scenes in action movies (how many young men signed up for kung-fu or karate lessons after watching Bruce Lee?!) or were always intrigued by the discipline and respect of the traditional martial arts.
4.) Lose bodyfat and get in shape. I interviewed one former World Champion in bjj that revealed that she was a chubby teen and was hoping that Jiu-Jitsu would help her lose some extra weight and tighten up. Well, she certainly did that…and had a very successful completion career and ended up becoming a Jiu-Jitsu instructor!
5.) Positive addiction. Some individuals that we meet are battling some manner of substance addiction and looking for a positive outlet for their energy. Directing their negative energy into a positive activity like Jiu-Jitsu helps them stay away from self-destructive behaviors. “When I know that I am committed to show up at Jiu-Jitsu class tomorrow, it gives me a reason to avoid alcohol.”
6.) MMA fan. A number of UFC fans started to learn more about the technical aspects of MMA fights and felt the urge to try a little grappling themselves. As they learned about ground grappling, they developed a new appreciation for the submissions aspect of watching MMA. Not every individual is going to enjoy full-on MMA training, but as we know at Gracie Barra…”Jiu-Jitsu is for everyone."
7.) Stress relief. I talked to a university professor of economics who shared that despite his busy schedule, he NEEDED to train or less he suffered from the effects of stress. “I HAVE to do it or I start to become less productive.”
8.) A friend brought them. Some finally relented after months or years of a Jiu-Jitsu addicted friend prodded them to come to a Jiu-Jitsu class. Especially if they tried sparring and had an eye-opening experience about how little they knew about fighting. Once they saw what it was all about, they signed up and the rest is history.
9.) Self-confidence. All of us harbor private fears in life. Some feel acute social anxiety. Others feel insecure when dealing with confrontation. Martial arts in general are a time-tested method of building self-confidence and helping people interact in a more healthy manner with others.
10.) It looked really cool! I’ve met a number of really interesting people who were successful in other areas of life. These high-energy, passionate personalities are endlessly curious about life and enjoyed multiple hobbies. They love trying new, cool activities and after witnessing a Jiu-Jitsu demonstration said “Oh! I’ve got to try that!”
So now, Gracie Barra blog reader, we ask YOU: “What made you decide to try training Jiu-Jitsu?”
Credits: Mark Mullen
Gracie Barra Black belt based in Asia