There are thousands of Martial Arts out there in the world, most communities have a wide selection of arts and styles to train in.
Obviously some are better than others, some are more focused on self defense, some more on competition, some on effective fighting techniques and even some focused just on taking your money and selling you colorful belts. For a new practitioner just entering the Martial Arts it can be a daunting task trying to pick what it is you want to train, there are just so many good options (and some not so good) to pick from. Hopefully this article and outline some great reasons as to why BJJ should be your go to art.
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Before we start, I want to say that I personally believe that as Martial Artist we should take advantage of all the world of Martial Arts has to offer, that means training in more than one style of Martial Arts if you have the time and resources to do so. There are many great grappling styles, many great striking styles, many great weapon fighting styles, and many great styles that are a blend of a little bit of each. So if your school provides training in multiple arts, hop on that opportunity because not many people have access to that!
BJJ is the Most Effective Single Martial Art: Let us take a look back to November 12, 1993. A tournament is being held, something out of a Bruce Lee movie it seems, where multiple fighters of various disciplines are coming together to prove whose style is the most effective. Among this roster of big strong men are Karate fighters, Savate fighters, Sumo wrestlers and many more. Standing amongst the ranks of all these powerful fighters is a pretty average looking guy, he is not a massive ball of muscles, extremely tall, or even all that intimidating looking, but he will go on to win the entire tournament and several following UCF events. His name is Royce Gracie. Royce Gracie would show the effectiveness off BJJ in a no holds barred fight where just about anything was legal and there were no time limits or referee decisions to save you. He would show that even a smaller person could effectively utilize the leading principles of BJJ to defeat much larger and stronger opponents. Using superior positioning on the feet, Royce would clinch the swinging, headhunting opponents, take them down, use proper control to maintain a dominant position, then apply leverage to break arms or suffocate his opponents with chokes, all while efficiently using his energy so as to not burn himself out early in the tournament. He showed that BJJ could not only defeat more physically imposing opponents but that it could do it consistently!
Anybody can do it, young or old, big or small: Today in the UFC there is no single discipline fighter (that would be suicide) but in the real world where most people have very little to no training, BJJ on its own is the most effective because it does not require you to be a freak athlete or even just a prime of your life 20 something year old athlete, older people as well as children can use this style to defend themselves from a simple school yard bully, all the way to life threatening assault on your life. In a fight, if your goal is to just throw hands with your opponent and hope to knock them out you will real quickly realize why this is not an effective way to fight. If the opponent is bigger, trading strikes from a boxing distance can real quickly lead to disaster for you and even if you are around the same size of your opponent, lucky shots can happen. That is not to mention even if you are fighting someone more athletic than you who can move in and out of your striking range. The strategy for BJJ is to close the distance to the clinch, that may mean using strikes to close the distance (contrary to popular belief there is in fact some striking to BJJ, on the feet and the ground) or defending by blocking or parrying your opponents attacks and closing the distance from there. Once the distance is closed and you have achieved some type of clinch you can limit the amount of damage the adversary can inflict on you because now they lack the distance needed for their punches to gain power. From the clinch a BJJ practitioner has the option of finishing the fight from the clinch by using elbows, knees, and headbutts, or a safer route, is to use the superior positioning to enact a takedown, take a top position, and submit the attacker by finishing the fight with strikes from the top or by using one of the many submissions available to choke the attacker unconscious or break a limb rendering them unable to continue their assault.
It Makes Worst Case Scenarios not so Terrible: BJJ makes a worst case scenario not only bearable but even positive. This goes for fighting and for life. In a fight you never want to be on the bottom...unless you are a skilled BJJ practitioner that is. BJJ is known for its ability to not only reverse bad positions but to also be able to submit the opponent from off your back. BJJ allows you to fight back and win where most martial arts have no answer and end. This is especially important for women who may find themselves in a scenario where an attacker is sitting on top of them or between their legs. It may seem like a hopeless position to be in, but BJJ empowers women to not only be confident but be confident because they know they can defend themselves from any spot. BJJ’s ability to teach you how to make a bad position a good one carries over into your everyday life as well I feel. After a long night of training, getting smashed by high belts or larger partners and having to think of ways to escape and turn the match in your favor, that quick thinking, analytical thought process will carry over into all aspects of your life turning you into a more well rounded, clear headed human being.
Healthy Body and a Healthy Mind: There is just something about grappling with other human beings that develops your muscles in a different way then lifting weights. Lifting weights is a great way to supplement your BJJ training but the strength you gain from years of gripping, snapping down, pushing and pulling another resisting body is unlike any other workout. Some of the strongest people I have ever felt have been grapplers (BJJ, Wrestling, Judo), farmers, construction workers, and Yoga practitioners. It is a strength that never ends, it can be explosive as well depending on the practitioner but the most defining feature of a BJJ players strength is that it does not end. It can last for rounds on end because all the training we do strengthens our muscles but also teaches us to conserve strength and how to use efficiently and at the right times. Along with a healthy body BJJ will help aid you in achieving a healthy mind. This is for a number of reasons. The first reason is from the release of endorphins, serotonin, dopamine and testosterone when you work out, these are those feel good chemicals our brains produce when we workout. If you currently do not train, maybe you have gone running before or lifted weights and after your workout you experienced that euphoric almost high like feeling after you were done. Another way BJJ helps produce healthy minds is the fact that you will constantly be surrounded by other dedicated individuals who are not only there to improve their own lives but to also encourage those around them. I call my gym my happy place because I know that no matter what kind of day I was having that once I get in there all my worries seem to fade away, all the smiling faces looking to train together and help each other reach new heights and overcome old plateaus is a powerful feeling and an extremely rewarding community to be a part of. The last reason I will talk about how BJJ improves the mind is the fact that BJJ is commonly referred to as ‘human chess’. It is not just a game of who is faster and stronger but an extremely in depth, systematic, and challenging process of how can I outsmart my partner in the quickest most efficient fashion possible. Once you start live training/sparring in BJJ “rolling”, you will constantly be thinking of it, all that you did well, what you should have done and what you will do next time. It is like a constant mind game that does not end once you leave the mats, trust me when I say you will become addicted to this awesome art.
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The Journey Never Ends: BJJ is an art that never ends. Whether your goal is to compete in submission grappling tournaments, be an MMA fighter, become an adept self defense practitioner or to even just simply train the art because you enjoy it for whatever reason, there is always something to improve upon. Whether it is your technique, your timing, or your physical conditioning and diet, BJJ is a lifestyle that will constantly keep you busy and pushing to better yourself in new and exciting ways.
It Kills Toxic Ego: Having an unchecked ego is what leads many to get into trouble, from getting in bar fights to starting trouble around town an inflated ego can make people feeling like they are untouchable and the king of it all. Walk in to any quality BJJ gym and you will quickly realize that you are a small fish in a small pond full of sharks. It is not uncommon to see guys walk in cocky showing off their muscles thinking they are tough because they can lift weights, we usually feed those guys to our blue belt women so they learn real quick that strength has no place here without the fine tuned technique to make it useful. Now once you start training and your ego gets checked (maybe you never had a toxic ego to begin with) it is common to start feeling full of yourself because you are tapping teammates and winning tournaments, guess what, there is always someone better out there and when you meet them and they humble you you will have to face your ego again, do you quit and sulk because there is somebody better? Or do you show up to class the next day ready to train and learn? The battle with your ego will never end, we all have an ego in some way shape or form and BJJ is one of if not the best way to keep it in line.
You Cannot do MMA without it: In the world of MMA you would not last very long if you did not have any BJJ experience. MMA is no longer a style versus style format, it is now a who is the most well rounded fighter competition. Many styles make this up, styles that focus on striking, clinching, takedowns, and ground fighting. These subsets of MMA can be further separate but if you remove a single one of those skills you will fail early on as a fighter. Without BJJ you will quickly find your self either taken down and submitted or you will be on top thinking you are winning a fight, only to find yourself being submitted by the bottom fighter. There is no fighter in the UFC who has not trained in BJJ or utilizes a BJJ coach to improve their skill sets. So if your goal is to be the next great UFC Champion, make sure your BJJ skills are a reasonable level!
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