The Simple Truth Behind Jiu-Jitsu Outliers

Samuel Coe / Flickr Creative Commons

Have you ever watched someone progress quickly in jiu-jitsu? If not, surely you have heard of a few people who did.

While most people take about eight to fifteen years to achieve the rank of black belt, there are a few outliers who seem to accomplish the same goal (or better) in six or less. Some people have even done this in less than three.

How do they do this?

Many people simply write them off by saying they have “natural talent”, but I don’t believe in natural talent. I believe that we should study outliers in any phenomenon to discover what is really happening.

When we study them in jiu-jitsu, what we see is actually quite predictable.

Here are a few of the most common traits of jiu-jitsu outliers.

  • Hard Hard Work– This one is easy to write off by saying things like “they don’t have any other priorities” or “they don’t work too much harder than anyone else.” But in reality, most of the outliers are the last off the mats and are training almost every day (if not every day). There are exceptions, but in reality, if you ask most of these people, I am sure you will see just how much work they put in.
  • Mentality– These outliers also tend to have the right mindset for both BJJ in general and competition. They are able to understand moves through their hard work and are always open to new information. They also understand their body and what moves will work best for them, thus creating an ultimate game for themselves. In competition they have the competitive mindset and never allow their butterflies out of formation. They have great control of their mind and abilities.
  • Previous Experience- This one can vary, but a lot of outliers have had previous experience in wrestling or judo. Even other sports can come in handy. This gives them a solid base and puts them already well above the average blue belt in many cases. While we surely know that a good jiu-jitsu black belt will handle his business with most judoka or wrestlers in a grappling match, she may have a harder time dealing with people who can fuse multiple martial arts. Also worth noting is the athleticism that comes with previous experience. Regardless of what sport you did before, you will gain a certain amount of athleticism through sports.

While surely there are other aspects that make people gain skill quickly in jiu-jitsu, I believe these are the most visible and tangible traits we can observe.  Have you met a jiu-jitsu outlier? What other solid traits do they have?