BJJ is a Video Game
Man. First off, if you have friends that haven’t played video games, they are OLD AS HELL!
After a monster training session on the mat at Vagabond BJJ, a student and I were talking about how to get their friends interested in BJJ. He has a couple of buddies in their early 30’s and he wants to be able to describe jiu jitsu to them in a way that isn’t some mysterious budo story, or therapeutic personal story.
Cause, in reality, telling your buddies that you put on some shit that looks like pajamas and choke your teammates with them. Then they’re gonna roast you and your blue belt.
There are a million ways to describe Jiu Jitsu and most of them are boring as hell like, “Brazilian Jiu Jitsu was designed for the smaller man to takedown blah , blah, blah.” or something like, “Seen the UFC? Seen someone tap out? That’s BJJ.”
Yes, training martial arts is therapeutic and manages stress for some. But, how can you tell your friends that your favorite past time is strangling your other friends without sounding like you a complete psychopath?
I believe jiu jitsu to be many things.
Describe it as a lifestyle, a sport, a hobby, an interest or, everyone’s favorite, a journey.
Can it be one of these without the others? Is it more than just a lifestyle? Is it more simple than we make it out to be?
I like to explain BJJ as a free roam, video game. People come into the academy with certain physical or mental aspects that benefit or hinder their jiu jitsu character but, mostly, all have the same baseline cognitive & physical function of an average human.
Hopefully, you dig it.
Here’s one way.
When you first start the game, you SUCK. You think you’re unequivocally bad, that no one has ever sucked as bad as the suck that you are sucking. But, everybody sucks, everyone was just as vulnerable as you when they first stepped into the new world.
Throughout the game, you find weapons/upgrades. At first, the upgrades suck. You think, “Why the hell is Coach handing me this crap?! I want BADASSERY!”
They are sloppy, slow and most of the time end up getting your ass handed to you when you use them. But, with time, that shitty pistol Coach picked off of the dead zombie turns out to be ONE BADASS PLASMA PISTOL OF FREEDOM! Saving you from the monotony of getting your face rubbed into the mat by every blue belt that has some new stuff they want to try because they saw it on Instagram.
The further you get in the game, the more diverse your skill set/weapon cache need to be.
Great, you submit the other white belts now. Smashing on every arm that dares enters your field of vision and ripping it from its owner like you could use it in the next round. You’re finally figuring out that your body can do more than exert massive amounts of force followed by long awkward pauses of deep, heavy breathing.
You are understanding that the techniques you have been drilling are things that are supposed to be used! They have a purpose and your weapons are getting more precise. But, you have no idea there are more weapons to choose from because “This game is really weird and I can’t figure out the controller set up yet.” and “Why does Coach always shake his head and look so dissapointed when I do that badass move?”
But really, you have a basic understanding of the outline of the game and you’re ready to explore the map. At least, you thought so.
At your level, there is an ENORMOUS pressure to catch up. You want to move about and try your hand at the higher belt level but, every time you do you get slaughtered. Every time you try your hand at a blue belt you wonder if it’s worth it. A purple belt? A Purple Belt, you go home, wondering what your life is, “even about” and if you’ll ever level up enough to get to that section of the map. What the hell is even over there?!?!
Frickin’ pizza? COME ON!
So you come to class. You drill. You level grind.
Eventually, like, 6-12 months later, something clicks. It’s not tangible. You don’t even know it happens. All of a sudden you’re shutting down attacks, feeling like a freaking ninja and, going a full six minutes without being submitted and Coach is telling you “Bow Ah” or something like that, a lot.
You don’t know what it is but it’s fuckin’ awesome. You find yourself in familiar places; knowing that your Plasma Pistol of Freedom still has some “Surprise Motha Fucka” left in her and you can slap that bad mamma jamma on at any time to an unsuspecting blue belt and all the newbs that don’t know to not extend their arms.
You’re like, “Pfffft. Frickin’ n00bz.” into you’re headset.
Better yet, you can come train with us in Odessa, Texas!