I’ve been aware of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu since 2005 and Judo all my life, but I didn’t start Judo till March of 2017 and Jiu-Jitsu May of 2017. Yes, I am a baby white-belt, and it’s amazing. Currently, I am pretty addicted to Jiu-Jitsu where I am literally volunteering to write an article about Jiu-Jitsu while training a lot. Sure, I know about the blue belt blues but I am pretty sure this is going to be a lifelong affair.
However, I started to wonder, why did it take 12 years for me to start? I’ve always loved martial arts and been tempted to try BJJ consistently over the years by practitioners. I watched UFC and knew BJJ is proven effective. In fact, I spent all of 2016, and early 2017, reading about Jiu Jitsu and watching BJJ videos before I finally decided to train.
In reality, I was nervous and even afraid to start Jiu Jitsu.
Sure, I am a somewhat responsible guy and thought about my budget on top of time etc. But, too be honest, I was definitely nervous. So, why was I nervous? What was I afraid of?
People I Feared Trained BJJ
I wasn’t bullied and I’ve lived most of my life with a sense of false confidence that I can kick butt; and I’ve been lucky enough to avoid ever fighting a true killer. However, there were certain people and friends that I could almost feel the icy chill that flowed through their veins. These people weren’t always big, muscle-bound, or tattooed. Many had none of the usual warning signs. In fact, I have a theory on why you should only fight big dudes, which I’ll write about some other time. Anyways, most of these guys and gals were nice and humble, but definitely had a sense of confidence combined with a badass coolness. Basically, my type of people.
Here’s the crazy thing: almost all of these people either wrestled, trained BJJ, or sometimes both. Maybe I’m weird, but for some reason, if my Darby senses (Hi, I’m Darby) went off saying, “Do NOT mess with this person!”, they trained grappling of some sort or MMA. Because I witnessed Jiu Jitsu’s effectiveness on UFC and the reality that tough people I knew trained BJJ, I was scared to join.
Unknown Expectations Of Jiu Jitsu Gym Culture and Training Fueled By Self-Doubt
Of course, the logical thing would have been to train BJJ or wrestle in order to have that skill and confidence to ultimately become a chokeologist myself. However, I’m someone who makes calculated decisions and I usually do my research.
Unfortunately, there was no Reddit r/BJJ where I could post questions way back in the day. I wasn’t sure what BJJ culture and gym cultures were like. Would I go in and just get my butt kicked and arm broken? Did you have to be a tough guy to train or did BJJ make you badass? Do you have to have some natural talents? Did I have those talents?
I spent the year prior to joining my BJJ gym lurking r/BJJ and watching all kinds of videos to figure out if I could get some more insight into the questions in the back of my head. Unfortunately, nowadays there is actually a TON of Jiu-Jitsu content out there and sometimes the information is contradictory.
One thing I quickly realized was that there is a ‘meta’ BJJ culture of low egos, and unity. Seriously, the BJJ online community is pretty supportive and that’s pretty special. Through reading online conversations, I realised that ultimately each gym has its own culture and I needed to find the one that fit the criteria I sought.
Basically, I spent a whole year figuring out that I need to just get myelf into some Jiu Jitsu gyms. Inherently, I knew that the first step is showing up but I had self doubt creeping up. Luckily, I actually don’t think I completely wasted my time for a lot of reasons.
How Pre-Training Nervousness and Research Helped Me
During the one year of seriously researching Jiu-Jitsu, I learned terminology like ‘spazzing’ and while I still spazz, I was at least aware of it. Further, I watched so many videos that I feel I picked up a visual understanding of what certain guards and positions looked like which turned out to be really helpful. However, the biggest gain from this limbo period was that I was obsessed with Jiu-Jitsu for a year and my mind had been studying Jiu-Jitsu for a year.
In my short time training Jiu-Jitsu I have witnessed white belts, who started before or after me, quit already. I’m sure there are multiple reasons why people quit, but when I decided to train, I KNEW I wanted to train Jiu-Jitsu and that it’s for me.
The bruises were to be expected. I knew that I should expect to get submitted and completely dominated. I knew mat time is the way to improve. I knew the history of Jiu-Jitsu and that it wouldn’t be easy. I walked into my gym with the goal of obtaining a black belt in my 15 year plan.
Yeah, I wear headgear. I still don’t want cauliflower ear until I have my black belt where it won't matter if I have it or not.
These were the reasons for my nervousness, and I’m sure you were nervous at one point too. In the comments below, I would love to read about your personal reasons or concerns that you had prior to starting the coolest thing I do. Oss!