When describing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu to someone who does not train, you’ve probably run into a plethora of seemingly questions about your training that simply come from a place of ‘un-knowing’ if you will:
“Is that like karate?”
“Is that the hugging stuff they do on the ground?”
“Isn’t that, like, pajama wrestling?”
I’m sure you’ve heard them all. You can’t blame people for their ‘un-knowing’ in this area; people often don’t seek to understand disciplines they are not engaged in. The key thing to remember is that before you and I started, we were in a place of ‘un-knowing’ too. I remember seeing BJJ for the first time as a student walking into a boxing academy for some fitness. Having done judo as a kid, I recognized the gi and some of the newaza techniques, however I was curious in the face of something new. A week later I put on my first BJJ gi and started a journey that would have an irreversible impact on my life.
I imagine that for many people their foray into the art of BJJ started in a somewhat similar way. What differs for a lot of people, however, is their reasons for training.
Some people train to learn to protect themselves, some train to compete and some train simply to improve themselves. As anyone who trains will tell a person who doesn’t, BJJ is more than just a sport; it’s a way of life. Whether you are the person who trains to learn to defend yourself, the athlete or the samurai, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu will change you as a person.
In my opinion, this is the core of the art, the axiom of truth upon which we can come to better understand our lives and those of the people around us. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, as an art, draws us in, it subjects us to trials (both physical and mental) that force us to reach a better understanding of ourselves and the art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu itself .
In short, BJJ takes us through the learning process. We start in a place of ignorance; about the art, about our selves, but the art, once embraced, exposes us to our ignorance and allows us to accumulate knowledge, test our ideas, develop a system of understanding and an encyclopedic knowledge of a discipline that engages our mind, body and soul.