Let’s start by saying that BJJ is difficult! It’s probably the most complicated and physically challenging martial art on the planet. But the “payoff” is big. But like any tough challenge you still have to climb the mountain and in BJJ there really are no shortcuts! Everybody regardless of age, race, economic status, etc. has to go through the same steps to achieve a black belt in BJJ. In BJJ you won’t see 8 or 9 year old black belts (in BJJ you have to be a minimum of 19 years old) and it takes an average of 10-15 years with very few exceptions. Yes, BJ Penn earned his Black Belt in under four years but remember he’s a UFC legend and after all his nickname is “The Prodigy”. So we’ve established that BJJ is a long, difficult journey.
So what is the “pot of gold” at the end of the rainbow? I think for everyone it is different. Most BJJ black belts will agree that by persevering through the difficult challenges they came out a much better person. In a culture where mediocrity is rewarded, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu stands alone as an endeavor that truly holds it’s practitioners accountable to a high level of proficiency. In BJJ you don’t get a ribbon for showing up. So what do you get for showing up? If you persevere and stay the course you will however be rewarded in many ways. You develop a deep sense of self. In Jiu-Jitsu you constantly face challenges on your own. When you slap hands with your partner, it’s you alone on the mat facing non-stop challenges and obstacles that require spit second decisions. When you decide correctly you are rewarded with a tap, when you make a mistake you get to tap! In the practice of BJJ you quickly learn what works and what doesn’t work and this helps you develop problem solving skills. Why is problem solving important? Because every human being faces challenges! From CEO’s to World leaders, everyone has to learn how to make important decisions. Big, small and somewhere in the middle, we all have to learn how to set goals, face challenges and learn how to overcome them. Whether you are 8 years old or 48 years old, BJJ teaches you how to become the ultimate problem solver. By learning how to stay in control and be successful in unpredictable and often chaotic circumstances one develops a deep level of confidence. Not in a “cocky” way either, but a self-assured, quiet confidence. A confidence that allows one to stay calm and in control in even the most dire circumstances.
You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience that you stop and look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself…I lived through this…I can take the next thing that comes along. -Eleanor Roosevelt