It will make you comfortable in bad situations
Men have several natural instincts that, while they seem to make sense, actually cause more harm. One of those instincts is to avoid confrontation and uncomfortable or bad situations. In Jiu Jitsu this is embodied in the habit of a new BJJ student turning their back to their opponent when their opponent is in a superior, more controlling, position. The most common thing you’ll hear my coach saying to a new white belt once they start rolling is “Don’t give him your back” or “Turn into him”. That last one, turn into him, is the one that stuck with me (but more on that later). What coach is telling the new white belt, who’s probably going to be tapping out in the next 5 seconds, is if you turn your back to your opponent you’ve surrendered all your options. You have no offensive capabilities with your foe behind you, and your only defensive option is to curl up in a ball and pray the end comes quickly. However, if you turn and face your opponent you have both defensive and offensive options.
Jiu Jitsu teaches you to be comfortable in bad situations. Joe Rogan, Standup comic and Jiu Jitsu evangelist, often refers to BJJ as “High level problem solving with dire consequences”. When a blue belt who outweighs you by 30 pounds has you mounted and you can’t breathe, you’ll want to roll over on your stomach to escape the pressure. That the exact WRONG thing to do. What you need to do is keep your arms tight, get close to him, control and arm and a leg, then roll him over. Doing that requires you to keep your cool, think, and face the problem.
It will destroy your ego, but also improve your confidence
When you start BJJ at my academy you don’t get to roll immediately. Coach believes that you don’t know anything yet and if you start to roll you’ll “just be moving”. My first roll was with a 15-year-old high school student. Keep in mind I was a 41-year-old guy who’d taken various forms of martial arts since I was 6 and watched every UFC and Pride FC event I could get my hands on. I figured “I’ve got this”. What I didn’t know was this young man was a JV wrestler and had been competing in BJJ since he was 12. After the initial slap/bump my new friend proceeded to choke me every 5 to 10 seconds for the entire 5-minute round. I, obviously, didn’t have anything.
You can’t have an ego in BJJ. Ego will get you hurt. Ego will make you unwelcome when you hurt others because your pride is more valuable than your teammate’s health. Ego will make sure the purple belt says “I’ve got you next” after you roll too rough with the 16-year-old girl and make her cry. BJJ will make you humble. It will make you realize, especially in a physical sense, that you’re not as talented as you think you are. Every guy thinks he can fight. Every guy has an irrational self-confidence of his physical abilities. BJJ will shatter those ideas and show you where you truly are. The men who can’t handle that truth don’t come back.
Jiu Jitsu will destroy your ego and demolish any fantasies of your physical capacity. Jiu Jitsu will also replace those falsehoods with true, lasting, and realistic confidence found in the achievement of doing hard things. Achievement in BJJ does not come quick or easy. The average to achieve a black belt is 12-15 years of constant study. Many, including myself, spend over two years at white belt and even longer at blue belt. The greatest struggle in BJJ is against yourself and your ego. When you get that stripe on your white belt, when your coach ties your blue belt around your waist, you know you earned that, and no one can EVER take that away from you.
You will use it in everything
Miyamoto Musashi, arguably the greatest swordsman to live, once said “If you know the way broadly you will see it in everything”. Put more plainly my coach likes to tell visitors thinking of trying a class “I use Jiu Jitsu every day”. That sounds like a great little bromide, as all bromides do, until you realize it’s true. Remember the point above about “Turn into him” being the answer when you’re in a bad position on the mats. That’s not just for on the mats. Facing your issues and problems are the only way to solve them. Turn your back on them and your issues, on the mat or off, will choke you out. Get an over inflated opinion of yourself and take on a foe, or task, outside of your capabilities and you’ll be in a world of hurt. Act with calm poise and a self-assured manner, without being a blowhard, and you’ll exhibit the confidence born of achievement. Have the ability to grind thru hard times to achieve your goals. Find a tribe of close-knit friends and family, and know you can defend them if the need arises.
I can’t think of much more a man would need from this world.
Total Defense Martial Arts in Staunton, Virginia, offers classes for adults and children in Western-style boxing, Filipino Martial Arts, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ). We are affiliated under black belt Dennis Hayes of HYBRID, in turn under Prof. Pedro Sauer of the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Association. Total Defense Martial Arts head coach is Brian Rose, a purple belt under Dennis Hayes.