Why Learn Jiujitsu indeed?
I started practicing martial arts back in the mid-90s. I started with, believe it or not, Kung Fu which was taught by a man who came to our high-school and taught us every Wednesday after school.d I felt invincible. I learnt very little of combative use, but even then I recognised that what I was learning was healthy and logical. Putting a lot of emphasis on body weight distribution and correct alignment gave me a great frame of learning which I then used to deconstruct and learn many martial arts over the years. Soon after leaving high-school and joining university I started WTF - Taekwondo and soon thereafter I fell in love with Karate and as the saying goes, the rest is history.
Fast forward to today, many lessons, belts, seminars and competitions later, I am just as in love with the martial arts as I was back then. In fact, I'd say that love affair has now blossomed into an incurable infatuation. I no longer see problems and differences between the styles of martial arts. I only see similarities and opportunities for growth.
With that in mind I thought I'd share a few reasons here why I feel my main art, Gracie Jiujitsu, would form the perfect compliment to any other martial art, be it my first loves of Kung Fu, Taekwondo or indeed Okinawan and Japanese Karate or my more recent focus on Kodokan Judo. I hope it encourages you to venture outside the confines of your own limitations and try jiujitsu or, indeed if you are already a jiujitsu practitioner, try another one of the above mentioned arts to compliment your jiujitsu practice,
1) Self Defence.
At its core, a martial art such as jiujitsu is a way to defend yourself and your loved ones. It’s a violent solution for when violence is the only answer and while many martial arts have great answers to this age-old problem, few of them take into account factors such as the law or provide you with repeatable, drillable solutions along a spectrum of severity of response.
Grappling in general (and Gracie jiu jitsu specifically) can serve as a solid delivery system or platform to help you understand or even re-interpret combat and self defence. This works whether you are a complete novice to combat arts or if you are starting jiujitsu already with a level of skill from another rich art such as karate or kung fu.
Jiu Jitsu is a full body workout like no other. The calisthenics of the warm-up, drilling the techniques and then rolling (sparring) with a partner will thoroughly tax your muscular and cardiovascular systems. Further, Jiu Jitsu is thoroughly engaging, fun and captivating and, in contrast to most striking arts, this slow and methodical grappling art will challenge and build the much needed isometric strength and anaerobic capacity.
3) Problem solving.
Feeling stagnant in your growth as a martial artist or, worse, as a human being? Infuse your daily routine with an art that challenges you and makes you grow. Jiujitsu is such a fantastic workout for your brain. Studying and training BJJ will keep your brain on its proverbial toes! Learning, sparring and engaging with other jiujitsu practitioners will activate your visual-audio-kinaesthetic learning protocols on all cylinders.
When you train Brazilian Jiu Jitsu you’ll instantly join an international fraternity of friends and much of it has to do with the high emphasis it places on partner work. While, as a karate black belt myself, I can attest that much satisfaction can come out of perfecting the performance of a solo form (aka Kata / Poomse / Hyung / Chuan), much can be said for training with and against a partner. You need the help of other people to sharpen your jiujitsu. Additionally, jiujitsu is built on a foundation of reciprocated trust amongst partners. When I train with you I am constantly placing my health and safety in your hands, and vice versa, and nothing builds stronger bonds like the mutual trust between jiujitsu training partners.
It is impossible to engage with jiujitsu, learn its complex and challenging techniques, practice them with a partner then drill them against a resisting opponent while simultaneously worrying about the responsibilities of the outside world. The jiujitsu academy quickly becomes your much welcome haven and sanctuary for you mind, body and soul.
6) Self Esteem.
Jiu Jitsu is hard. It's really challenging. In fact, many will say it seems almost impossible when you first start it. With perseverance, however, an experienced teacher will guide you to a place where it becomes possible. You’ll feel empowered. Mastering a challenging jiujitsu technique and performing it against a resisting partner feels like standing on top of the world and the process of learning Jiu Jitsu is nothing but a sequence of overcoming such challenges. Isn't that the essence of building a strong sense of self esteem?
7) Passing on skill.
When a struggle is shared, good advice from those who have travelled the same path before us is cherished and valued and while many aren’t necessarily looking to become fulltime teachers of jiujitsu, every student will derive great pleasure in extending a helping hand to newbies with their challenges. This can range from correcting a hip, hand or foot placement to something as simple as how to correctly tie the belt so it doesn’t constantly unravel during practice or how to care correctly for the newly purchased jiujitsu gi.
We are lucky to live in a time and age where the best Jiu Jitsu practitioners in the world, from the masters of years past to the stars of today's competition arenas can still be easily accessed. You can visit their academies, take a class or a seminar and maybe even roll with them. Can you honestly say that about Tennis, Golf or Football?
Similarly, the gentle nature of grappling means it can be practiced by multiple generations of the family at the same time, each at their own individualised pace of learning. Just looking at the many children and grandchildren of the 2 famous patriarchs of Gracie Jiujitsu and how many of them learnt the art by practicing it alongside their peers, elders and, later on, their children. It’s a family affair indeed!
9) Never-ending Curriculum
As a teacher, I strongly believe that with the right instruction methodology and curriculum design, anyone can learn a lot and form a solid foundation within jiujitsu (and self defence in general) within 2-3 years of regular training (2-3 sessions per week).
However, and this is a major point of attraction with jiujitsu, you can never know everything when it comes to Jiu Jitsu! After 10-15 years, some will choose to expand their repertoire (training more throws / nogi / with strikes / against weapons / law-enforcement...etc.) while others will aim to sharpen what they have and magnify their depth of the conceptual understanding of jiujitsu (leverages / connection points / streamlining techniques...etc.)
Either way, jiujitsu is endless and you will never reach a point where you are "done".
10) Patience.Progress in jiujitsu is slow, but that makes it hard-earned and well appreciated. When you work so hard for months on end, the physical rewards of a stripe on your belt or pat on the back fade in comparison with the mental and emotional rewards you garner from knowing that every minute you spent working on improving your jiujitsu skill paid off. Jiujitsu black belts are experts at equating hard, consistent effort with personified success.
Patience is easy when what you are being patient for is worth it.
By far not the be-all-end-all of the art, competition within Jiu Jitsu has always been a cornerstone of the art's growth and evolution and the avenues to compete are many and constantly growing. You can test your jiujitsu skills under a variety of rule sets in gi grappling, NoGi Submission Wrestling or even (at a higher level) in Mixed Martial Arts.
Competition allows you to both fail healthily and succeed humbly. The preparation, training, dietary and mental focus before a competition is far more valuable and empowering than the result itself and everyone who's set foot onto a competition tatame will confirm that. There's a camaraderie at jiujitsu competitions that rivals any other.
12) Wider knowledge.
There is no denying that the Mixed Martial Arts, with the UFC at its helm, is a phenomenon here to stay. Once you start learning and practicing jiujitsu, especially if the curriculum you are studying places an emphasis on strike protection and self defence, you’ll suddenly see every MMA fight in a new light and you will be able to share this understanding with others around you. Once you have learnt to escape the mount or lock on the triangle choke against a striking opponent you will gain a difference perspective on what is happening in the Octagon.
Additionally, many martial arts are working hard to unlock the grappling secrets within their own knowledge and skill vaults such as kata / forms. Learning grappling will give you a fresh pair of eyes to gain insight into your existing skills. Who knows, you may lead the way to a new combat knowledge revolution?
ZHOO ZHITSU IS FOR EVERYONE!
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