BJJ / Grappling is for everyone! The Second Lie in BJJ.

My previous post introduced my idea of writing about the 5 lies that helped shape my view on BJJ and grappling. In that same post, I talked about the first of the 5 lies of BJJ: To avoid pain, just tap when you get caught! and my oh my did the post receive a massive response. Within a couple of hours there were over 20 comments (now over 35! all very valid and extremely well written) on Facebook and I'm sure there are more now. I thank everyone who took the time to read the post and comment on it and Graham for taking the time to write a post inspired by mine on his excellent blog.

Today, I want to talk a little about the second lie that helped shape my view on this amazing martial art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and that lie is:

-BJJ / Grappling is for everyone!

Three circles need to intersect for the above to be true:
  1. The Instructor
  2. The Material
  3. The Learner

The instructor:
How many BJJ instructors and coaches out there are qualified to coach, i.e. have had any formal training in how to teach a skill (instruction) or improve performance (coaching)? How many grappling coaches out there can adjust their delivery method to suit a visual learner vs. a tactile learner or (more commonly) a mixed group of learners? Many? A few? Any? Heck, most BJJ instructors outside Brazil have to teach in a language they haven't even mastered yet!

The Material:
BJJ, or Gracie Jiu Jitsu as some prefer to call it, is a huge art (a full post on that later!) and naturally not everyone will be equally interested in all the parts that encompass the art. Some people want to learn the best self defence system in the world, get fitter and maybe make some new friends, some want to learn a competitive sport and win countless BJJ & grappling (or even MMA) medals and trophies while others (like myself) see all the above as fantastic fringe benefits but really see the arte suave as a wonderful life long vehicle of self discovery. Is the instructor prepared to create BJJ / grappling / MMA programmes and courses that cater to all these needs? Does he or she even want to cater or all these people? If not then they definitely shouldn't be claiming to do so.

The Learner:
Are you patient? Do you know why you would want to devote hours a week to toiling on the mats with strangers (at least to begin with)? Are you honest to your instructor, your co-learners and (most importantly) yourself about your goals, resources and (ever-changing) drive & motivation to gear the latter towards achieving the former?

I will never forget years and years ago, I was learning Ayengar Yoga (AY) from an instructor in my home town Gothenburg, Sweden and she said to me:

-"in AY we believe that the body stores memories of events, sad and happy, in muscles, joints and ligaments and thru yoga we help the body confront these and achieve freedom and bring forth a unity between mind, body and soul"
-"that's amazing", I said. "I wish everybody knew that!"
-"many do", she replied, "but not all are strong enough to go thru the process of change it involves".

BJJ is only for those, instructors AND learners alike, who are ready and strong enough to go thru the process of change and that, most certainly, is not everyone.


Liam "The Part Time Grappler" Wandi

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