Chuck Palahniuk’s book Fight Club and its movie adaptation has brought up many points and questions that many men face regarding happiness, purpose in life, masculinity, materialism, and the impact on media on our perceptions. While I would not compare training in BJJ to an actual fight club, there are some common themes found in the book that are similar to the reasons why male participants their 20s and 30s who decided to start training in BJJ.
For me, I had a regular desk job, earning a decent salary, going out a lot, going through my daily routine, but lacked a sense of purpose and really felt empty deep down inside. I was just getting through life going down a comfortable, yet unrewarding path. I wrestled for a bit in high school and still had an itch to learn grappling, especially after becoming a UFC fan. After training for BJJ for 3 years, my perspectives on life, its possibilities, and my own human potential has changed.
In some ways I can relate to Jack, the narrator in Fight Club and the inner conflicts he wrestled with in regards to where he was in life and how his character evolved throughout the course of the book. Looking through and movies, I found these quotes to be very inline with my own BJJ journey.
“I don’t want to die without any scars.” – Most people who train BJJ don’t walk away scar-free. If you train, you will get a permanent souvenir and I am not talking about the Helio Gracie tattoo you got after your first promotion. Scars from BJJ can ranges from the cut above the eye from an accidental head butt, a muscle or tendon tear never quite recovering 100%, the scar from an injury that required surgery, or the cauliflowering of ears. I would rather take these scars and injuries as a cost of doing business rather than not experiencing all of the positives I have gained through my experience training.
“At the time, my life just seemed too complete, and maybe we have to break everything to make something better out of ourselves.” –Why did you join BJJ? If you were an adult, you likely had friends, a job, and family when you decided to take up BJJ? Why did you need to add something so painful and difficult to your life when you could have just skated by in your day-to-day routine? There is a weird itch that attracts you to such a physically demanding sport during a time in your life when your peers are getting serious about golf and bowling. Scratching that itch and has been a very rewarding experience in learning a new skill, becoming more humble, and meeting really nice people.
“May I never be complete. May I never be content. May I never be perfect.” – In BJJ, even the masters of the sport are still evolving and improving their games. They are never all-knowing or always perfect. Neither are the average Joes and hobbyists who have gaping holes in their games that are greater in size than the Grand Canyon. The beauty and pain of BJJ is that you are always growing, but you are running a race with no true finish line. Even multiple-time World Champions are still growing and evolving their games while still having holes that make them vulnerable at the major competitions.
“After fighting, everything else in your life got the volume turned down.” – Training in BJJ has been a great outlet for dealing with stress and life. Joe Rogan has mentioned that we were never meant to work such docile lifestyles where we sit at desks or in cars each day. Our ancestors had physical outlets for stress through hunting, farming and doing manual labor. The physical exertion from drilling and rolling provides an outlet for all the stresses in life. Additionally, rolling and sparring really lets a person know where they stand in the food chain and what another person can do to you in a physical confrontation. It is a very humbling process that makes you less calmer and less confrontational with others.
“Without pain, without sacrifice we would have nothing. Like the first monkey shot into space.” – I recently read that only 25% of BJJ practitioners reach Purple Belt. Anybody that reaches the Purple Belt level in BJJ has trained on average 5 to 6 years and busted their butt training, drilling, learning and competing. The process is painful with numerous injuries, constant soreness, and highs and lows in confidence. With the pain comes satisfaction from a sense of accomplishment and being a better person through training.
“How much can you know about yourself if you’ve never been in a fight?”– Most people prefer to avoid physical confrontations at all costs. In BJJ, there is a legal and safe way to physically test yourself against another competitor with comparable experience and skill level. Going out on the mats to face somebody who wants to choke you or bend your arm back to make you say ‘uncle’ while dealing with your nerves, and fears in front of hundred and sometimes thousands of spectators is a very trans formative and character building experience for any BJJ practitioner. Although, I am against street fighting and the bullying we hear about in schools, I believe that being in one fight in your life, even if it is a BJJ or wrestling match is a very defining and character building experience.
Do you agree or disagree with my takes on these quotes and how these quotes relate to BJJ? Do you have your own quotes and thoughts on how Fight Club applies to BJJ? Feel free to post your comment below.