Five Myths About BJJ

Maybe you’re about to begin your journey through Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, doing some research before you get started. Or maybe you’ve been training for years now, and just want to take a look at how accurate my list is. Either way, there’s something here for everyone.

These myths about BJJ, although very commonly held, are actually dangerous hindrances to your training and development. Get them out of the way right now!

Myth #1: “A purple belt should never tap to a blue belt.”
You can actually replace “blue” and “purple” with any two consecutive belt ranks in BJJ.  This myth is dangerous on several levels.  First, if you are a blue belt who believes you will never tap a purple belt, it hinders your own potential as a student.  Second, there are many variables that go into who taps whom on a given day.  The purple belt might be putting himself into a vulnerable position on purpose to work on escaping; the blue belt might be an athletic phenom.  Finally, and most importantly, the upper belts are not going to always treat every roll as though it was competition!  For further reading on this subject, check out  Five Ways to Get Better at BJJ.

Myth #2:  It shouldn’t take you longer than 2 years to get your blue belt.
Once again, this myth applies to all belt levels.  Anyone who tells you it shouldn’t take more than a certain amount of time in order to achieve the next belt level is missing a great deal of information in order to truly assess this.  There are much more athletic individuals who are able to train several times a week- and sometimes even multiple times in one day- who are obviously going to improve at a faster rate than, say, an individual who can commit 2 training sessions per week, with no previous athletic experience.  Again, I refer you to another very good article in case you haven’t already read it:  How Long Will it Take Me to Get My Blue Belt in BJJ?

Myth #3:  Technique will always beat strength and overcome size.
Ha!  You’ve probably heard something along the lines of, “All things being equal, size does matter.”  That’s certainly true, but you can go considerably farther in your generalization by saying the following:  Sometimes size and strength can overcome technique, even when the person with size and strength doesn’t have as much technique as the smaller person.
It’s certainly true that technique can take you a long, long way in BJJ, and you shouldn’t be discouraged from developing your technique  while motivated to overcome strength and size.  But don’t be unrealistic- you’re not living in a martial arts movie where you will train hard, harness the chi, and destroy the enemy in the last scene!

Myth #4:  You can learn jiu jitsu from Youtube
While it’s true that there is a great deal of valuable learning material out there on the internet, especially on Youtube, it’s equally true that there is a great deal more utter garbage out there.  With the aid of an instructor, video instruction and learning can be a valuable part of anyone’s education.  However, without a “BS detector”, you’re going to have a very hard time figuring out what will be more of a hindrance to your learning.  It’s vital, therefore, that you discuss whatever videos you’re interested in watching with your instructor, preferably first!  Misinformation can be one of the most detrimental things to trying to learn anything, and jiu jitsu is certainly no exception.

Myth #5:  You’ll stop being frustrated when you get your purple belt
Each belt is like reinventing yourself.  This means that you are starting all over at the bottom of the ladder once again.  To symbolize this, I shaved my head with my purple, brown, and black belt promotions.  The physical reminder that I was beginning again at a new level was very helpful.  Remember that you are always going to struggle with understanding Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, but also remember that this is what makes jiu jitsu so beautiful and unique:  it is a never-ending journey.  You will always be a student, no matter how much you know, and you will always be able to take delight in learning things!

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