Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has an uncanny ability to take over your life before you’re even aware. However, it is not just the honeymoon period that you will have with BJJ that will quickly draw you in. BJJ is a different kind of animal, drawing you deeper and deeper the more time you dedicate to it. As far as addictions go, though, it is the one addiction you do what in your life. However, you have to vary of how, you allow to influence your JIu-Jitsu, and even more importantly, to what extent. While you absolutely need others for the ultimate BJJ experience, you can’t let people ruin Jiu-Jitsu for you.
Do you know who the two types of people are that can completely derail your positive BJJ experience and turn it into a negative one? It is easy, those that have the most influence on you can also make grappling life quite hard for you. In that sense, one type is directly involved in your BJJ experience, while the other can have an influence even if you never meet them. Those two types are your BJJ coaches and your BJJ idols. While you absolutely need them in your Jiu-Jitsu journey, the fact of the matter is nobody can ruin an athlete more than their coaches and their idols.
The BJJ Experience
One of the things I enjoy about Jiu-jitsu the most is seeing how it transforms the lives of others. Seeing people discover BJJ, from that first moment when I get to present it to them, to them discovering how deep it can go and all the directions it offers, is something really worth living for. Slowly, people completely immerse themselves in Jiu-Jitsu, accepting the inevitable – it becomes a lifestyle.
At this point, it is not just about what happens on the mats. You start thinking about BJJ on your way home from training, in the shower, before you fall asleep. Curiosity gets the better of you and soon, your YouTube an Google search history clearly reflects your new obsession. Of course, this inevitably raises more questions than it does answers. This is when the BJJ filter starts working. People that are not really in it for the long run, will be able to leave those questions aside and just come back for training. That’s one kind of a BJJ experience, but not one that lasts, although that’s far from a rule.
Those that decide they will look for the answers are the small percentage of folks that will eventually reach the higher levels of the sport. They’re the people that will get the ultimate BJJ experience and might end up switching from a BJJ lifestyle to Jiu-Jitsu being their life. I am one of the lucky ones that can count themselves in this category. However, things can take a turn for the worse, and the source for that are types of people that most of us won’t suspect have such an influence.
Who Can Ruin BJJ For You
Sometimes it is those people that we look at with admiration that can influence us in ways that are unexpected. That said, athletes place huge belief in their immediate coaches and other athletes that are their idols. Suffice to say, in most cases, things turn out as they should, with these people having positive effects on the athlete in question.
In BJJ, this applies not just to those that grapple competitively, but to everyone deeply involved in the sport. That is just about everyone, actually. In that sense, expectations we might have from coaches and idols can often be misguiding and can result in a less than optimal BJJ experience. Both coaches and the superstars we admire are figures of authority when it comes to JIu-JItsu. As such, they carry a huge burden of responsibility towards their students/fans. In most cases, particularly in Jiu-Jitsu, coaches/instructors and even top-level superstars do pay a lot of attention to this. It is when they don’t that they can turn people’s BJJ experience into a sour one and even drive people away from the thing they love. Do not let this be you.
The Influence Of Coaches
It is more than obvious that coaches have the biggest influence on how your BJJ experience turns out. They are the people you interact with at least a few days of the week. Often, people have so many questions that they write or call coaches to clear some of them up. In Jiu-Jitsu, most instructors will oblige and do their best to answer everyone and help them on their BJJ journey. It is one of the best things that you can if you’re an instructor!
However, it is undeniable that a coach can influence athletes in ways that are less than optimal for them. Jiu-Jitsu is a highly individual thing and coaches need to recognize each and every person’s affinities and guide them from there. A tall order, I know, but that’s exactly why not everyone is cut out to be a BJJ instructor. One way BJJ coaches can mess the BJJ experience up for people is by trying to apply a rigid approach to things. This can end up working for plenty of people but might hold those back that have the potential to be the next huge thing in grappling. And that’s only the technical aspect of things.
The interpersonal relations of a coach and student are also huge, and also highly individual. Once again, it is the coach that has to be the one with all the responsibility. People that come to Jiu-Jitsu are lost and need lots of guidance. How the coach approaches them at this point can really be the difference between a bad BJJ experience and one that’ll last a lifetime. The same holds true for people that go through the belt system. People will inevitably change, discover their own Jiu-Jitsu, and have more and more questions as time passes by, rather than the other way around. Getting the same answers again and again just because it is easy to give them does not mean the curiosity of the students is going to be satisfied.
Careful With Your BJJ Idols
This is something I can’t stress enough. In most sports, you don’t get to meet your idols. Or, even if you do, you get the same interaction with them that you’d get with a movie star or famous singer. In Jiu-Jitsu, you can end up training with your idols and rolling with them. Moreover, one day, very easily, you might even come up against them in competition. That means you get to have real contact with them and you might end up bitterly disappointed.
Very often when we admire some huge athlete superstar, expecting one day to be just like them. Managing such expectations is key to having a positive BJJ experience. Even though you can undoubtedly reach the black belt level and become an expert in JIu-Jitsu, you’ll hardly ever reach the top 1% of BJJ. Not impossible but unlikely. Well, those people we all admire that go through everyone like a hot knife through butter are in the top 0.1%. Now that’s impossible, and you should know it.
Finally, in any interaction you end up having with your idols, which you will if you train long enough, managing expectations is key once again. It is unrealistic to expect everyone to be as laid back and nice as some star grapples or people you’re used to are. There are countless ways in which an idol can really mess up your love for BJJ and even drive you away from this beautiful art of ours.
Be wary of those who you hold in high regard in Jiu-Jitsu. While everything I said in this article is the exception rather than the rule. As BJJ evolves and spreads, it will become something we see way more often. Jiu-JItsu is for everyone, and everyone’s BJJ experience should be an uplifting and positive one, preferably even life-changing. And remember, while the responsibility definitely lies with coaches and idols, it also lies with you. You can always find new ones that will fit your way of seeing JIu-JItsu much better.