Wednesday, May 25, 2011

What is the Goal of BJJ?

Today, a friend of mine and I were getting coffee and she said she wanted to try out bjj with me. Of course, I was excited. So my friend asks me, "So what is the goal of jiu-jitsu?"

Simple question, but one that is hard to explain to someone who has never tried bjj.

"Do you try to pin the other person?"

That gave me a jumping off point. "No. BJJ is different than wrestling because, instead of trying to pin someone by relying on superior strength and speed, your goal is to learn to use technique, leverage and momentum to get into a dominant position so that you can do a submission -- a joint lock, choke or muscle lock. It's not about getting into a position and holding it. It's about being mobile and learning to use the other person's movements and positions against them."

Then, I started trying to explain what you do in a grapple. I could see from her facial expressions that she was trying to understand, but had a hard time picturing what I was saying. So I invited her to come over to my barn so I could show her. To my great pleasure, she did.

Stephanie came over too and we spent an hour or so showing her some of the basic positions and submissions -- mount, side control and taking the back and a kimura, an armbar from mount and an rnc. She was on overload by that time. So Stephanie and I grappled--just a relaxed flow roll--to show her a little bit of what bjj looked like in action.

She liked it and is coming with me to class tomorrow. Yay!

The thing that struck me, though, is that I had forgotten about how overwhelming bjj is in the beginning. It's fast, in close quarters, scary at times and there are so many details that you are aware that you aren't going to remember even a quarter of what you are seeing and hearing. I look at this as the first hurdle--getting over that fear of the unknown. The second big hurdle, in my opinion, is learning to deal with the progressive, trial and error, long term nature of bjj.

But as we were walking out of the barn, my friend said, "I'm glad I did this with you guys here first. If I had gone in there not knowing what to expect it would have caught me way off guard."

I hope she ends up enjoying tomorrow's class!!


Afrorican said...

We just got some new guys in the gym and its striking how much you don't realize that you've learned over time. You want to show them everything and its hard to dial it back and not overwhelm them. Oh and I wish I had a barn.

Megan said...

Serious props for such a clean explanation...

Liam H Wandi said...

Totally agree: Nice explanation.

It's a game. It's a beautiful beautiful game.

I'm constantly thinking about these questions because I strongly feel that BJJ is for EVERYONE, but I know that the way it's taught at most schools, it's not taught for everyone.

Inspiration...hmmm....maybe a post is brewing :)

BJJ Judo said...

Dont under estimate how hard it is for some people to get over personal space issues. I consider that one the first hurrdle for most. They see some of the positions, make uninformed asumptions and leave without every giving it an honest try.

Megan said...

Yeah@BJJ Judo. I rejected BJJ for YEARS for that very reason. Had it not been for dancing for a few years first, I never would have been able to do it.

Dev said...

Nicely done. I always start by explaining that the goal of BJJ is to make your opponent want to stop fighting you, whether it's due to pain, incapacitation (broken stuff), unconsciousness (chokes), or just plain tiring out (you defend yourself effectively until they get tired of it). THEN I get into technique (pinning versus playing off your back). Sometimes people get it, other times they don't, but your explanation was great.