I find it fascinating when I meet new people to find out what their ‘sport of choice’ is. I’m a big college football fan; as I love the raw excitement in the air during the college football season. Inevitably as I discuss my ‘hobby of choice’, the conversation goes to martial arts and for me, my mixed martial arts training has been Wrestling, Taekwondo, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Go figure, right?
I believe each martial art has a place with their teaching, and their approach to real world fighting, the discipline and the art itself, and competition.
When people ask me, I lay it out for them from my perspective, starting with the ‘professional’ MMA fighters:
Professional MMA fighters, at the highest levels MUST be proficient at many martial arts: Wrestling, Muay Thai, Kickboxing, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu….they cannot be one dimensional; because if they are, they will be exposed.
Breaking it down to the average Joe, excelling at one of any of those styles should suffice in assisting you with a reasonable self defense system. Find one (or more) styles that you like, and can find a good teacher…..do it, but above all, stick with it. Beginning with the ‘end in mind’, decide early on what you want to get out of the training, as we all have different wants, needs, and desires.
What made up my mind to lean mostly to BJJ and MMA, has several variables:
1. I was a black belt in Taekwondo when I met Rickson Gracie and took a seminar. Having boxed and wrestled a little bit during high school, and then training in Taekwondo I thought I had all bases covered, and I was wrong. Rickson took about 15 seconds during grappling at the end of his seminar, and he tied me up like a pretzel, and choked me out with the greatest of ease. So he ‘got my attention’.
2. This was around the time of the early UFC fights, and Royce Gracie was a great example of how effective Gracie Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) is, and literally changed the martial arts landscape over night! I had to find a BJJ place near me…..and the nearest place was Torrance, CA! Living in Florida, I had a job that having me travel all of the U.S., and I was in a job that had me traveling to California once every 6 weeks or so, so I began visiting the Gracie Academy as frequently as possible. While attending Gracie Jiu Jitsu classes, I was afforded the opportunity to handle my ego, and practice humility with people half my size submitting me at will! I had to BJJ and I had to stick with it!
3. Nobody said it would be easy, but that was an understatement. It was the most humbling experience of my life! But with the humility, came a peace, that I wouldn’t be the best, and I couldn’t be the best as BJJ didn’t come easy to me at all. Everything was ‘counter intuitive’. But I stuck with it.
I can’t say one actual reason made me stay with BJJ, but I did. I think I knew in my heart that I needed BJJ for what it did for my personal life, much more than it did for my athletic life.
I found myself happier
I found myself more determined
I found myself calmer
I found myself making friends of all backgrounds
I found myself more confident
I found myself beginning to improve and help others
I had found my favorite martial art, and it was……. Gracie Jiu-Jitsu and MMA!
I’ll be the first to say that BJJ is not easy. It is hard work, and it takes time to progress, as the ‘mat doesn’t lie’. BJJ is a business of constant repetition, but it’s also a business that it doesn’t matter how big, strong, or athletic that you are to be effective. You just need to get started and consistently show up.
No matter if you are into Karate, Taekwondo, Muay Thai, Wrestling, BJJ or any other marital art…. TRAIN, and STICK with it!