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Crossing over from other Traditional Martial Arts: Empty your cup!
Transitioning to Jiu Jitsu Can be Life Changing
You have been training in another system (most likely a striking art that focuses on forms and point sparring), but you had a chance to try BJJ. Immediately you felt like a fish out of water, whether it was closing distance to the clinch, the effective takedowns, or probably it was the extremely strange and foreign concept of maneuvering your body around on the ground to dominate another person, even if you were the one on the bottom!
This is a stressful time in your life, as you feel like you have completely wasted your time training in other systems and now you are ready to take the plunge into Jiu Jitsu, but where do you start? You don’t want to offend your instructors by leaving them for what you feel is a more effective martial art but you also feel as if you're lying to yourself by training in something so absolutely inadequate for real confrontation. This is going to take some serious self reflection.
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The first question you need to ask yourself is why am I in the martial arts? Is it to be active, make friends, and do something different than mainstream activities? If it is one of those answers (and your current art fulfills these for you) and you do enjoy your current art, then maybe you should not quit it. But, if your answer was to be able to defend yourself against a larger more physically imposing opponent and your current system is not doing that for you, then you need to take matters into your own hands and do what you feel is best.
Yes you may lose friends and possibly be alienated from that group (if they are true friends they will understand) but in return you will gain so much physically, mentally, and emotionally once you take the dive into the vast, ever growing ocean that is Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. BJJ has proven itself over and over again as one of, if not THE most, dominant single martial art in the world. You can’t be a MMA fighter without BJJ (or a similar art such as Sambo or Catch Wrestling).
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You may hope that some skills from your first art carries over. I’m going to put this as simply as possible...It won’t. At least not at first. You need to completely ‘empty your cup”, drop all ego and embrace the beginner mindset that you most likely know very little if not absolutely anything. Now, flashforward 5 or 6 years and skills from your past art may start to surface. An example may be skills such as standing joint locks, small joint manipulations, and foot work. Along with the resurfacing of these skills you will start to notice how you are able to better blend the two separate arts together because you did the right thing and fully embraced the art of BJJ as it is without trying to mix in your previous training too early.