What is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and Why Should I Care?

The internet is filled with accounts of the Gracie family from Brazil, and everything you could possibly want to know about the origins of BJJ.  I’d rather tell you what BJJ is to me.

One version is already elsewhere on the site, and it covers how I got started.  Here, I’ll tell you what BJJ is for me right now.  I am hooked.  I have sampled a lot of things.  Scuba diving, skydiving, professional photography, music, backpacking in the arctic. . . the list goes on and on.  I still enjoy those things, and I’m always looking for other activities to get into.  Jiu-jitsu has single handedly consumed more of my interest and time than all of those things put together.  My three daughters have trained, and now my wife has started training.

Jiu-jitsu is a challenge, a puzzle, a frustration, a fitness routine, and ultimately a way of life.  It consumes all who take it seriously.  And none of it is negative.  Sure, there are bruises, injuries, setbacks, and trials, but the benefits far outweigh any temporary problems.  This is something that people do when they are 70, 80, and even 90 years old.  BJJ is exercise that isn’t boring.  I’m writing this as I’m 41, and easily in the best shape of my life.  I am a natural introvert that actively enjoys interacting with other BJJ practitioners.  I have seen jiu-jitsu transform people for the better.  They are healthier, more centered, and more confident.  It is empowering to know that an untrained attacker had better bring a weapon to a jiu-jitsu fight or else they will be choked unconscious, or leaving with shattered joints.

Every day you train, you learn new things and work out your own version of jiu-jitsu.  There isn’t just one fixed BJJ.  It is constantly evolving and adapting.  Amputees (Hi Matt!), paraplegics, small guys, small gals, huge guys, the list goes on and on.  BJJ encourages you to develop your own style, and that style will change as your body and mind change.  Your strategy will change depending on the skill and physical attributes of your sparring partners.

If you really want to change your outlook, and make a difference for you and everyone around you, I strongly encourage you to give jiu-jitsu a try.  If you can commit to a month of 3 days a week training, you’ll know at the end if it’s right for you, right now.  I understand it’s not for everybody, no matter how much that perplexes me.  I wish everyone trained jiu-jitsu.  You need to be in the right frame of mind, and that’s not something that can be forced.  Find a school, give it a try, and take the chance that this might be the thing that helps you develop your body and constantly gives back.  And if it doesn’t work out for you today, keep it in mind and try again in a few years.

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