When you first start training in BJJ, many coaches and upper belts will give you lines and cliches to sell you on BJJ and the lifestyle that comes with it. Since newcomers are enthusiastic and eager to please, most will buy into these lines as absolute truths rather than half truths with some BS sprinkled in. Over time, you will start to see holes poked into these beliefs and statements and start to develop your own positions on BJJ as a martial arts and sport. Here are the top 5 BS statements white belts are told when they start training.
BJJ is ego free: Eddie Bravo said “BJJ is a filter for douche bags.” It is partially true, until you start following the social media of high-level competitors and read how much they love themselves. If you visit another academy, some coaches can’t help themselves as they bad mouth other coaches and academies to their students and guests. Sure BJJ will make you more humble from getting worked over by better training partners, but the mats are still filled with regular human beings with normal emotions and egos.
Technique overcomes size: Yes, BJJ will provide you with a huge an advantage over most larger, untrained opponents in a self-defense situation. However it does have its limits. If you are a 5’10, 170 lbs male with 2 years of training, you are still likely in a world of trouble if you get called out by a NFL linebacker with a bad attitude. There are limits to what BJJ can do for you in a self-defense situation. The best lesson gained from BJJ is knowing what another human being is able to do to, so that you avoid physical confrontations at all costs.
BJJ is safe: When you first start training, you are told BJJ is much safer than boxing or Muay Thai and anybody can do it. You will have the old guy in the gym bragging about how he is still able to train multiple times a week despite being over 50 years old. After a while, you will notice training partners wearing knee and ankle braces, draining their ears, complaining about sore necks and shoulders, and scheduling appointments to the chiropractor. While the sport is relatively safe, it is a combat sport that wears down the body and injuries will occur.
The BJJ community is one big family: You know most families are dysfunctional with family members not speaking to each other and constantly bad mouthing one another. So in that sense, the BJJ community is one big family. There is a lot of politics in BJJ between affliations, coaches, and students. While most people in BJJ are cool and friendly, let’s not pretend it is a perfect Utopia. There are people out there who have less than noble intentions and there are rivalries between different teams and factions.
BJJ is for everyone: The barrier to entry to try BJJ is low and everybody is welcomed to train, but sticking around is very hard. In the end, the people who stick around have a burning desire and passion for the gentle art and are willing to make sacrifices to learn and train. The reality is BJJ is a very expensive hobby, takes a physical toll on the body, and requires participants to be comfortable rolling around on the ground in other people’s bodily fluids. Most normal people wouldn’t subject themselves to that type of lifestyle.