Jiu Jitsu And The Nerd
Exploring nerdiness in gentle art...
Before I started Jiu Jitsu, I didn’t know what to expect. I kind of pictured a gym full of young Chuck Liddells. I thought I would find a bunch of fighters and Special Forces guys trying to find new ways to kill and dismember. Certainly, I did find that. There is a healthy cross section of the gym that violence is a part of the job description. However, I found something else. Nerds.
I took a free intro class and signed up for a membership when the class was over. That class was taught by a bouncer at a club covered in tattoos. He had mangled ears and callouses on his knuckles. He looked like a guy who knew how to fight. My second class was a day class. I came to the morning class and was trying to not be too obviously new. A small thin nerdy guy walked in and of course I thought he must be new also. At least I would not be the only novice in class. He looked like the guy in high school who did not date a lot and probably got stuffed in a few lockers. Then the thin nerdy guy started teaching class. I had it all planned out. After the instructional part of class was over I would roll with him. I thought that I would tap him a few times then politely ask for my tuition back. Yet, you know the end of the story. He destroyed me. Anything I did he had a million answers. He didn’t break a sweat.
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That is the thing with Jiu Jitsu; a lot of the best practitioners are nerds. Jiu Jitsu black belt and former Navy Seal Jocko Willink said the same on an episode of the Joe Rogan Podcast.
“Before I knew Jiu Jitsu and I was a big Navy Seal 200 pounds – one of those kids that’s 140 pounds would’ve absolutely destroyed me if we’d gotten into a fight. Boom. Take my back. Put me to sleep. “He elaborates, “That’s the other thing I noticed in teaching kids jiu-jitsu, the kids that are a little bit more cerebral… You know the parents will think: my son he’s kind of a nerd, he’s kind of a smart kid I don’t know if he’s going to like it. But the opposite is actually true very often. Where the kid that’s cerebral, he’ll recognize as soon as you show him 3 things. Like you said – his wheels are turning he’s going wait a second, this is a skill I can learn, and if I can learn to do this and the other guy doesn’t know this I will be able to beat him. And so cerebral kids often get into it even more than you know some kid that’s like a natural bruiser. ”
Joe Rogan agrees. “You know 10th planet Jiu Jitsu is just filled with nerds. They’re all nerds. Assassin nerds. It’s really kinda interesting. ”
Perhaps an overlooked benefit of Jiu Jitsu is it turns those of us who are not nerds into nerds. Since I have been training Jiu Jitsu, I have become interested in the best way to learn things. I read books like The Talent Code. I draw elaborate mind maps for Jiu Jitsu systems. I try to figure out one key lesson learned from every class. If I go to a seminar, I skip the photo opportunity to jot down as many notes as I can remember. Jiu Jitsu has turned me into a nerd.
Without a doubt, my life as a student would have been significantly better if I had found Jiu Jitsu when I was in school. The effort that it takes to learn something as difficult as Jiu Jitsu would have translated well into my other academic pursuits. It would have paid dividends. Or put another way, the nerdiness necessary to be successful on the mats would have made me a better nerd off the mats.
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