What’s Stopping People From Trying Jiu-Jitsu?

Photo by: Stewart Uy

Throughout my jiu-jitsu journey, I have tried (and often failed) to encourage my friends to try out jiu-jitsu. Knowing the profound and positive impact it has had on my own life, I have strived to ignite this within those close to me. 

My invites are often laughed off or met with an excuse as to why that friend simply “can not make it” to come try out training. Though I understand the obvious intimidating factors of jiu-jitsu, I wanted to reach out to some friends to delve into what exactly is stopping them. I wanted to uncover these potentially detering characteristics and see how we, as jiujiteiros can make jiu-jitsu inviting.

Caleb, 21, said that trying out jiu-jitsu has crossed his mind at some points, but the timing has never worked out well. He said he is a bit intimidated by some of the guys that do jiu-jitsu, noting that it is popular amongst law enforcement professionals, and that he is “not trying to get his a*s handed to him.” 

Bernardo, 22, said that to him it seems time consuming. As a college student with a full course load, he is concerned he would not have enough time to commit to training. He mentioned, “I don’t have time right now to learn and — more importantly — to practice the skills so I would never really improve.” 

Elizabeth, 21, recalled that her reasoning for not trying out jiu-jitsu stems from a bad experience she had with the MMA Club at her university. The club did not have proper equipment, and she was made to feel uncomfortable by the club president, a former boxer. She said that she would really need to find a gym where she was comfortable if she were to try jiu-jitsu. 

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Tara, 21, and Abbey, 22, had similar reasons for not trying jiu-jitsu. Tara commented, “I’m scared of getting hurt.” Abbey said, “It’s not something I am super interested in, I guess.” She went on to say, “I see the benefits and would love to know how to defend myself, but it’s a little too up close and personal with other people.” Tara agreed. 

Kurt, 25, said he is hesitant to try it because he doesn’t want to “break any bones or get choked out.” He doesn’t really understand what all it entails and how it works, and he also was unsure about the violence and live-sparring component. “I don’t really know what exactly jiu-jitsu is. I wouldn’t know anything about the moves.” 

The common theme throughout my friends’ objections seemed to be an overall lack of knowledge about what exactly jiu-jitsu is. I was surprised by how many of them commented that they don’t want to try it because they are afraid of getting hurt. Although an understandable reservation, I think it is important to inform potential jiu-jitsu practitioners that if you train with caution and patience, you are not likely to break bones or seriously hurt yourself. 

I also noticed many of them noted how time-consuming it seems to be. I believe this is another misconception because while it’s true the more you train the quicker you’ll improve, it is a hobby that is flexible and could work for a variation of schedules. 

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I think as jiu-jitsu practitioners and academy owners, it’s important to battle these misconceptions and encourage newcomers to come watch a class or ask questions. We should strive to educate our friends and family about the benefits of jiu-jitsu, and how they outweigh the risks by far. There is always room on the mats to welcome new training partners.

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