I honestly thought everyone knew.
I love to train, and teaching is the most logical way to train full time. But teaching has a way of showing us exactly how much we don’t know. Because I started in a small town in Missouri, the challenge wasn’t what I expected. Don’t get me wrong, the people are friendly, and often have the toughness and work ethic any competitive coach would want. But, somehow middle America is often misinformed. If they have heard of BJJ at all.
This isn’t karate.
When I say that I teach Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, a shocking number of people put their hands together, squint their eyes, and bow. Women make cracks about nunchucks. Men invariably tell stories about that time in eighth grade when they last opened a can of whoopass. Finding the words on the spot without seeming unfriendly is difficult. Being an ambassador often means explaining over the course of a year or two that we don’t punch, kick, or care about sais. Some arts do that, but not us. Once we have established that BJJ is largely on the ground, the next misunderstanding comes up.
We don’t always fight off our back.
Wrestling culture is well established out here. Unfortunately, many wrestlers ask why anyone would want to fight off their back? Other martial artists have also voiced concerns about ‘wanting to fight off your back’ being a problem. In our point system, a takedown is two points. Just like wrestling. From there, half of the game is played on top. Our control positions are stronger and more highly developed than wrestling. Because we fight against opponents who have both the time and ability to get away. Some people want to fight off their back and some don’t. But we do have the ability to do so. Teaching someone to ignore a position because they don’t like it is not going to help them.
This isn’t a children’s game.
Another common line that comes up often. “I would love to have you teach my child some discipline!” And, that’s why I built the adult program here first. BJJ is a complex study that can last a lifetime. It’s often described as a journey, not a destination. Yes, I enjoy teaching kids. No child will ever receive an advanced rank from me. Because they cannot hang with advanced adults, and that’s not fair to them. This is an adult study that kids can learn part of in a seperate class. When they’re grown, they will have a solid foundation to build on. Not a false sense of security. I also have little patience for parents who live vicariously through their kids. Get out there and lead by example!
You probably haven’t done this before.
Occasionally, I will meet guys who don’t know they’re younger than me. They explain politely that they’ve trained before, but are too old to take that kind of abuse now. Lots of small town kids organize fight clubs in basements and backyards. This can be a decent introduction. But don’t fool yourself. An expert instructor understands what details to fix when you’re drilling. (Have you ever drilled?) A real school can also give you advice on sustainable training based on many years of experience.
We aren’t taking out our aggression.
Often, an interested party says they’re afraid to get beat up. We do train at 100% resistance. It’s a great workout, and it keeps us honest. But we don’t mindlessly break each other’s arms. Nobody would train if that was the case.
You will meet more of us.
Bjj has already taken over the coastal cities. Hopefully this will help friendly conversations develop as we cover the Midwest.