Whenever a new student comes into the academy I always like to ask a little about their history and reasons that they decided to start training bjj. I learned that you can not always guess why a person signed up for classes based on their physical appearance.
Different people have different needs in their training and when I ask them “What made you decide to try training bjj?” they have some varied answers. Not everyone has a goal to be a medal winner in competition and here is where we really see the value and purpose behind the “Jiu-jitsu for Everyone” philosophy of Master Carlos Gracie Jr. and Gracie Barra.
read also: The 5 Expressions of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
1) Self defense
One look at the newspaper and you can see why many people are concerned with personal self defense. This statistically is the #1 reason most people decide to seek out martial arts instruction.
Bjj is especially noteworthy for self defense as a system that allows a smaller, weaker person to defend themselves against a larger, stronger attacker. As many street fights end up on the ground, bjj is important for anyone looking to gain confidence in their ability to defend themselves.
Often new students initially enter the academy looking for self defense and later change their focus to more of a sports bjj interest in order to have more fun rolling with their friends at the academy.
2) Health and fitness
The jiu-jitsu lifestyle means more than just being able to arm lock an opponent. A holistic approach to well being:
A) improvements in cardiovascular and muscular strength, flexibility, fat loss;
B) a way of releasing mental stress;
C) eating healthier and avoidance of self destructive habits (smoking and sedentary lifestyle) ;
D) self discipline in ones personal habits .
These factors combined all form a strategy for personal well being. This might include those battling addictions and looking to replace those bad habits with a “healthy addiction.” Many students report dramatic improvements in their health and equally dramatic weight loss due to healthier lifestyle habits.
3) Competitive outlet
After their college athlete days are over and many have entered into their professions, they may find themselves missing that outlet for their competitive desires. Sitting at a desk in front of a computer has a negative effect on most people’s health and one might find themselves in need of a physical activity to balance the lack of physical activity in a desk job.
Bjj offers a great way for those who feel competitive fires burning within them to continue to stay in top physical condition. Age and weight categories ensure the fairest levels of competition even for those out of their early 20’s.
4) Learning a new skill
I have spoken to more than one person dissatisfied with the repetitive nature of fitness club workouts. Running on a treadmill or imaginary kilometres on a stationary bike are unsatisfying to many people. The repetitious nature of weight training leaves many people looking for a fitness activity that has more variety and mental stimulation.
Many newer students, not familiar with the history and legacy of the Gracie family, simply see bjj as an interesting new activity and chance to learn something cool.
One friend of mine said “With weight training all you get is a fit body, but if you quit, you lose the muscles.With martial arts, you learn a skill that you keep with you your entire life!”
5) MMA fans
More than one MMA fan, inspired by the top fighters in the UFC decide that they want to do some training themselves.
Truth is that real MMA training that the professional athletes do is a serious business and beyond the capacity of most normal people.For many professionals, showing up at the office and meeting with clients with a black eye is not something they can do.
Bjj offers a great way to get involved in learning some of the skills that MMA fans see in the ground fighting in MMA.Many new students say that before they started bjj, they had zero idea of what was going on when the fight hit the ground in the UFC. Now they have gained a new appreciation for the skills of the fighters and understand some of the strategies of the ground fighting.