What is BJJ like?

Marcelo Garcia vs Alexandre Ferreira

My idol Marcelo Garcia defeats Alexandre “Cacareco” Ferreira via RNC in the absolute division at the 2007 ADCC.

You. Your opponent. The mat. You attempt to make him submit via a choke or joint lock. He’s trying to do the same to you. It’s safe. Tapping signifies that you submit and accept the loss. There are rules so no-one gets hurt; we all need to be able to work the next day. The goal is to make your opponent submit. There is no striking or hurting your opponent.

It’s physically hard. You will use muscles you don’t normally use. You will be twisted into positions you’ve never before imagined. You will sweat. A lot. And you will tap many times. Each time you tap, it means you give up, that you’re not as good as you thought you were. This will hurt your ego. Maybe you are emotionally tough enough to accept this, maybe not. Many people aren’t.

Eventually you will tap less. One day you will get your first tap on somebody better than you. This may take months. BJJ is difficult, especially in the beginning. You will notice that you’ve become stronger, fitter, more agile. Perhaps your diet has improved. You feel good, confident, perhaps cocky.

And then it happens. Someone you used to easily submit starts submitting you. At first it’s once or twice but it increases. Soon she’s submitting you with ease. Yes she. Your ego plummets. BJJ is a physically tough sport but it can be even tougher emotionally. However, it is incredibly rewarding. It builds you into a stronger, more resilient person — physically, mentally and emotionally.

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