Jiu Jitsu is a bizarre activity and I’m sure at this point you’ve met at least one person who is just uncompromisingly in love with it. If you ask them about it their face just lights up and they are ready to roll around on some carpet to show it to you or take you outside and roll around on some dirt to show it to you. They invite you into their personal space and assume that you should have no qualms about abandoning your own personal space to join them on the ground. A great many people balk at this behavior but little by little this Jiu Jitsu thing just keeps spreading.
The reason that its spreading is something that has to be experienced to be understood. We, who love Jiu Jitsu, can extoll the visible benefits: real self defense that demonstrably works, fitness and mobility improvements, and the appearance of fun. But that’s not why Jiu Jitsu is ultimately really popular. Jiu Jitsu is addictive simply because it provides a genuine font of confidence to its practitioners and its something that you cannot find elsewhere very easily.
Jiu Jitsu builds a powerful streak of confidence for three reasons. First, it provides an actualizable method to submit or escape from another human being and the first time you tap someone larger than you or stronger than the testosterone that follows is off the charts. Second, in breaking down personal space barriers you are overcoming something that is entirely socio-cultural in terms of construction which transforms the entirety your universe into your comfort zone. Third, Jiu Jitsu’s basis in using the mind to overcome matter helps you escape from the folly of believing in talents and intrinsic skills. Let’s unpack each of those a little bit more.
The actualization of something is important because that is the difference between belief and fact. We believe in things that cannot be proven and in the existence of belief, doubt is ever-present though it may be small. Yet when grappling with another human being there is a definable outcome, I can reach a point where my opponent concedes that they cannot continue to fight without suffering significant damage or going unconscious. When someone larger than you, who has been giving you their all and literally tussling with you and twisting all over the ground in an effort to finish you decides to tap because you may choke them unconscious, there is a rush of testosterone that floods your system. You have won, there’s no question, there’s no judge, you have overcome the greatest apex predator the world has ever known. Making another human being submit to you is breathtaking. Additionally, you know in that moment that after finishing a similarly trained individual that an untrained individual could not pose a significant threat to you under most circumstances. This places you in control of so many situations and possibilities. You feel like a real-life ninja or secret agent. You cannot get that feeling by hypnosis or reading self help books. You have created confidence with your bare hands.
Let’s look a little deeper at comfort zones. Intimate contact ranges are entirely derived from socio-cultural factors. I have been all over the world and in some places, people will pack onto a subway with you and literally ride cheek to cheek with an absolute stranger. Your boundaries are nonsense, they are not informed by personal preference at all. In the western world I have watched people fall over and move backwards hard to the point of damaging themselves to avoid the slightest contact with a human being moving near them but not moving at them. For the Jiu Jitsu practitioner, absolute contact with another person is the beginning and they are generally trying to increase connection instead of reducing it and this transforms their world. Close contact is where the Jiu Jitsu practitioner shines, where others would be well advised to back away from. The world becomes one big comfort zone essentially. If I am comfortable with the idea of an attacker getting into intimate range with me, how could that not translate to immense confidence?
Those manipulations within the comfort zone also carry over into non-grappling arenas in life as you begin to see that study and understanding can overcome natural strength and speed. To be fair, not every grappling kid or adult sees the pattern, but at SBG Texas I always make a point of the fact that the application of the mind is more important than the inborn ability of the mind. I am a junior varsity athlete to put it mildly and I have applied my mind to overcome in direct physical confrontation D-1 athletes, so how can I not believe that my mind can be used to overcome nearly any obstacle. Humans are the most adaptive of all apex predators. There isn’t an apex predator that has existed on the planet that humans aren’t capable of killing, but we are weak little flesh sacks compared to the raw power of something like a lion. That said, we can apply our minds in ways that nothing else can and having a belief in the power of the mind is critical to real confidence.
So, in wrapping up, I won’t wind on and on too much more. Just get yourself to an SBG gym near you if you aren’t already in the New Braunfels area. People come to our gym from San Antonio, Austin, Seguin, San Marcos and every where else in between to find everything that is great about Jiu Jitsu without all the meatheadery that plagues the grappling world. You’ll go to classes with a real curriculum and they will teach all this magic instead of saying let’s just roll and expect you to reinvent the wheel (hint: lots of gyms just want to feed newbies to their existing members). If you can’t find an SBG gym near you, well then best of luck to you and be super careful. Avoid places with a lot of machismo and look for places with a lot of women and older people on the mat. Those places care about people growing in safety. If a gym is full of 24-32 year old ultra-buff dudes you can be certain they’ve driven off anyone not in that bracket so be super wary please, especially if you are looking for something for your kids. Kids martial arts should be informed by intelligence and skill and if you aren’t seeing any of that when you walk in a gym door, just head