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How Jiu Jitsu Teams Become Family
Humans are generally social organisms. Even individuals that lean towards introverted attitudes still require a certain level of social communication and group belonging. The world, however, is changing in a way that is promoting individualism and not social behavior.
Technology has also removed us from the natural social interactions that humans engaged in for thousands of years. As a result, people fail to thrive emotionally and do not learn important behaviors and lessons that our brains have a natural inclination to incorporate.
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One thing I noticed almost immediately after joining a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu academy was a unique form of behavior team members partook in. Although it resembled strong friendship, it was something larger and more significant, and therefore more powerful.
As time moved on and I began to understand the social structure I was finding my place in, I realized that the team functioned more so as a family than just a group of friends. Not only was there a strong network of bonds, people held each other accountable, helped others become better, supported one another through good and bad times, and engaged in every element of social behavior good families do.
The social structure I became a part of was not limited to only our academy, but all Brazilian Jiu Jitsu gyms. As beautiful as it is, it is also very insightful. It is a reminder of the biological need for group belonging. The new world does not offer much to provide for that need, but Jiu Jitsu does.
For a majority of my life, I felt out of place. I never really found a particular group I was fond of or thought I could be a valuable asset to. This is a sentiment shared by many people all over the world. What is also very interesting is that I realized many Jiu Jitsu practitioners experienced that feeling but found it within Jiu Jitsu.
There is another way that Jiu Jitsu creates the environment for the growth of strong social networks. It resembles that strong bonding and unity shared by military veterans. There are numerous accounts of World War One veterans discussing how they feel that their time on duty was the greatest time of their life and that they would do it again. This is astonishing considering that atrocity of the war itself.
This social bonding due to shared adversity is a natural phenomenon that can be experienced by even some animals. Although Jiu Jitsu isn’t as grueling as war, it’s an adversity that members of an academy partake in together and support each other through.
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