Brazilian jiu-jitsu is equal parts cerebral complexity and pure aggression. There are few activities that force you to perform more intricate, technical maneuvers in a constantly changing situation while under the constant threat of bodily harm. In some ways it’s like trying to solve a calculus problem while someone tries to throw you off by actively changing constants, flipping signs, and otherwise fooling around with the equation.
Starting out in Brazilian jiu-jitsu is an intimidating and humbling experience. Beginners spend the first few weeks or months being thrown, pinned, and submitted in a bunch of confusing ways: chokes, armbars, shoulder locks, ankle locks, kneebars, etc. And often by an opponent who’s a lot smaller. It’s not everyone’s idea of fun.
Now the group splits in two. After sticking that foot in the pool, the first, larger, group will decide that jiu-jitsu isn’t for them, walk away, and chalk it up to experience. The rest ditch the ego and go back for another round of beatings… the Jiu-Jitsu Vortex is starting to exert its power.
At some point in the next while things start coming together. You’re learning the basics – surviving, getting tapped less often, escaping from some pins and submissions. Maybe you even sink a submission or two of your own. Now the game’s begun and you’re spinning around in the pool.
Next thing you know you’re spending all your free time at the gym. When you aren’t, you’re studying books and videos, looking for that new escape, submission, guard pass, counter, or recounter to try out at the next class. Friends start asking where you’ve been. Co-workers ask about the shiners and those red marks on your neck. You blow off dinner dates a few times too many and people stop calling. And that’s the beginning of the end. Welcome to your new life.
So step onto the mat, venture into the woods, dive into the depths. But be warned, the Brazilian jiu-jitsu vortex has a stronger attractive force than a black hole. It’ll swallow you alive.