Very often when I talk to people about trying jiu-jitsu, they come up with some sort of excuse or rationale for why they can’t or won’t try the gentle art out. Here are the top excuses I hear when it comes to not trying jiu-jitsu and why they don’t hold up:
- “I’m too out of shape to do that.” No you’re not. BJJ is a great way to get in shape and stay in shape. More importantly, you’ll have people pushing you to improve yourself. I’ve seen people lose hundreds of pounds on the mat. Claiming you’re too out of shape is a copout. If you’re out of shape and overweight, you’ll need to modify how you initially start out. At first, you may want to limit the amount of standing grappling you do, as there’s a good chance that being out of shape will increase your likelihood of doing damage to your knees. But not training at all due to being out of shape is a ridiculous path to take.
- “I don’t like people getting in my personal space.” The whole point of jiu-jitsu is to systematically do away with your issues regarding personal space and boundaries. You’ll eventually get to a point where whatever claustrophobia you stepped on the mat with dissolves into nothing. Yeah, it’ll be uncomfortable at first, but if you really want to learn BJJ, personal space issues won’t stop you. You’ll get used to it quickly, and you’ll find yourself comfortable and relaxed in positions where you once would’ve freaked out.
- “Jiu-jitsu is dangerous, and I don’t want to get hurt.” This is a perfectly valid concern… if you’re irrationally timid. The truth is that if you get to a point where you’re training to compete, you’re going to get hurt; it’s not an “if.” But if you’re just doing this as a fun hobby, and you learn to select good training partners, you’ll be less likely to get hurt doing BJJ than many other sports that are seemingly safer. A good guideline for a beginner is to move slowly and deliberately and ask the instructor for safe, knowledgeable training partners. You can decide how intense (or not intense) your training gets. Most of us eventually stop caring about the possibility of injury.
- “It’s too expensive.” Jiu-jitsu is, in fact, expensive. But “too” might be in the eye of the beholder, and the reality is that people spend more money on worse stuff. For what you get, even the most expensive jiu-jitsu academies are well worth it. At the gym where I train, prices are negotiable depending on contract commitments and services desired by the customer, so talk to the gym’s manager and see what you can do. Budget for it. Jiu-jitsu is well worth every penny you’ll spend on it.
- “It’s too violent./I’m a lover, not a fighter.” Very often, people assume that jiu-jitsu is violent. Certainly, competitive jiu-jitsu and self-defense-oriented jiu-jitsu are often violent. I don’t care who says that it’s the gentle art and it’s not violent — it totally is. That being said, learning it as an art form can be very rewarding, and you can get a lot of the same benefits from it. Jiu-jitsu turns your training partner into a puzzle for you to solve, and you can choose whether or not to use violence to solve that puzzle. If anything, jiu-jitsu offers its practitioners as many non-violent tactics and maneuvers as violent ones.
For every reason I can give someone to train jiu-jitsu, they can come up with five more excuses. What are the craziest reasons you’ve heard from someone as to why they won’t try jiu-jitsu?