I am by no means a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) expert.
It has been years since I’ve trained and, although I keep saying I’m going to get back to it, thus far I haven’t.
Although I haven’t trained in a while, I still carry with me many lessons from my time on the mats. Foremost among them is a recognition of just how vulnerable I am in a physical altercation.
BJJ is different than many of the more traditional martial arts. In BJJ, from the beginning you are actively sparring against resisting opponents, “rolling” in BJJ parlance. In some other martial arts you might learn different movement patterns that include kicks and punches, you might also learn to dramatically break boards, but you often never get to test your skills against resisting opponents who are also trained. That can breed an overconfidence since you are never quite sure where you truly stand.
Rolling lets you know exactly where you stand. After all, what good is knowing how to perform particular techniques if you are unable to pull them off against actual opponents who are fighting back?
While rolling you can’t hide from your opponent or from yourself, and your weaknesses will be exposed.
If you haven’t sparred with resisting opponents you truly have no idea where you stand, and you have no clue of your true vulnerabilities.
How Tough Are You?
Every man likes to think he is physically tough. That’s part of being a man. But what we think is reality is often very different from the truth. There is often a false confidence and sense of bravado that infects many men, especially when they are putting on a show for a woman.
If you have never been in a physical altercation scenario against a grown adult, you likely overestimate your own abilities. This overestimation can be deadly for you if you aggressively go after a trained individual. This obviously doesn’t only include someone trained in BJJ, it also includes boxers, Muay Thai practitioners, MMA fighters, judo players, and those trained in other legitimate martial arts.
Men who have never trained simply cannot imagine a scenario where they can be physically dominated, particularly by someone smaller or less physically imposing than they are.
Those who train know better.
They’ve likely been choked and had their arms almost ripped off and been forced to tap by those with more skill hundreds of times.
This act of physically submitting in a fight to another man humbles you like nothing else does. It shows you that there is always someone more skilled and tougher than you are. How can you be overconfident when you’ve been humbled so often?
The average wannabe tough guy doesn’t get to experience this forced humility on the mats in a safe and controlled way and doesn’t realize how easy it is for a man who has trained to obliterate him if he chooses.
We’ve all been out somewhere, perhaps at a bar, where there is a loud drunken tough guy challenging all-comers. It is very likely such individuals never trained, which is why they have no respect for the fighting abilities of the other men present. It simply never crosses these fools’ minds that they would have no chance against a trained individual.
Don’t be that guy.
Recognize that you are vulnerable, and if you want to decrease that vulnerability, start to train.
You will get defeated, often. That’s good for the soul and is the best teacher of humility there is. Embrace your vulnerability and take steps to mitigate it by training. You will tap often. You will have aches and pains. You will get discouraged. But, you will get better. And, as you get better you will improve your abilities to protect your family and yourself.
Just whatever you do, don’t be that guy with an outsized confidence that hasn’t been earned on the mats, in a ring, or in a cage.
I intend on getting back on the mats to continue the process of increasing my own humility in the near future.