Everyone who has ever walked in to a Jiu-Jitsu has almost certainly heard or already been told a number of lies about BJJ, and it’s important to debunk the biggest ones. There are plenty of relatively harmless lies that are really more like non-absolute statements; half-truths that we tell beginners in order to make the learning process easier for them. There’s nothing wrong with teaching people rules to stick by when they first start, and later teaching them when they’re able to break those rules. Outside of that there are a number of things that a new starter might hear that are at best incorrect and at worst, actually dangerous.
5 Biggest Lies You Hear In Jiu-Jitsu
While there’s a whole mountain of lies that new starters will hear about Jiu-Jitsu or even in class when they first arrive, the biggest lies are those that present an actual danger if taken as gospel. It’s not just that these statements are only right for most people or even a handful of people, it’s the fact that they’re not true at all. They still get repeated though, and in many cases they really boil down to the sales tactics that certain gyms might employ. It’s pretty clear that some of them might help get people through the door, but it’s far more helpful to set realistic expectations and ensure that everyone stepping on the mat understands what they’re getting into.
Jiu-Jitsu Is For Everyone
This is a cliche, but you’ll even hear it repeated by some of the best competitors and coaches on the planet. In some cases it’s because they think Jiu-Jitsu makes you a better person, but it definitely doesn’t. It’s certainly helpful for some people but there are plenty of examples of BJJ black belts who turn out to be horrible people or even criminals. In other cases it’s repeated because they believe that Jiu-Jitsu is an incredible hobby that everyone would love if they just gave it a chance. That’s obviously wrong, because some people simply aren’t going to like rolling around the floor and having to deal with physical discomfort on a regular basis.
‘Jiu-Jitsu is for everyone’ is one of the biggest lies in BJJ because it often results in those who don’t enjoy the sport thinking that they must be doing something wrong. Likewise, some people simply don’t have it in them to engage in physical combat on a regular basis and they shouldn’t feel like there is something wrong with them. Jiu-Jitsu is just a hobby and like any other hobby, some people like it and some don’t. That shouldn’t put people off trying it out and in fact, people should try out multiple hobbies that appeal to them before finding one or more that they really love. Jiu-Jitsu can be for anyone if they give it a chance, but it definitely isn’t for everyone.
Technique Beats Strength
This isn’t just one of the biggest lies in Jiu-Jitsu but it’s also one of the biggest lies in all martial arts. A whole generation of people grew up on films that championed the fact that if someone is bigger or stronger than you, there is a specific technique or style of combat that will guarantee you victory anyway. This is so obviously wrong, because every combat sport has weight classes for a reason. Although there are absolute division in BJJ open to all weights, they’re almost always won by heavier competitors. Even when they are won by ‘smaller’ people, those smaller people are generally about average size when looking at the population.
The reason that people say that technique beats strength is because there’s an invisible sliding scale where a certain technical advantage will be able to compensate for a weight disadvantage. That doesn’t mean that any level of technique beats any level of strength though. Even experienced black belts have been submitted by gigantic athletes with no formal training, so white belts a few months into their journey should expect to still be getting beaten by athletic new starters regardless of well they can do an armbar. Technique doesn’t beat strength outright, there needs to be enough of it to compensate for the strength difference.
Jiu-Jitsu Is A Safe Martial Art
Among all of the biggest lies that you will hear in Jiu-Jitsu, there is none more dangerous than the idea that the sport itself is completely safe. The idea makes some sense, because it comes from the fact that tapping out signals the other person to stop applying pressure. Even though every person in a BJJ class is able to stop the action at any point they want, the problem is that the majority of injuries are done in dynamic movement. People rarely over-apply a submission and instead, they get swept or taken down at awkward angles and something gets injured.
Parroting the idea that Jiu-Jitsu is a safe martial art leads to students who are poorly prepared for how risky the sport can actually be. Yes, they aren’t going to get CTE from strikes to the head and they shouldn’t ever have their tap ignored. That doesn’t mean they aren’t going to get injured though and over a long enough timescale, everybody in the sport suffers some kind of serious injury. The problem gets even worse in competition, when some people go into it expecting their opponent to look after their safety despite the fact that they don’t have to and most won’t. Jiu-Jitsu might be safer than some of the alternatives, but there are still big risks involved.
BJJ Is The Only Martial Art You Need
The idea that BJJ is the only martial art that you will ever need comes from the earliest days of the UFC. Back when MMA first began and the UFC started staging events, every competitor represented a single martial art or style. While Royce Gracie became a champion representing Jiu-Jitsu back then, it’s important to understand that he was competing against fighters who had essentially no knowledge of what he was doing. In the modern era of MMA, fighters need to be well-rounded with plenty of striking experience before they can even begin to use their BJJ skills.
While anyone with even a cursory knowledge of MMA can spot that this is one of the biggest lies in Jiu-Jitsu immediately, some still believe it from a self-defense perspective. While a background in grappling can feel like a superpower when fighting off an untrained attacker, there are other issues in play. Anyone who is looking to take up BJJ as a self-defense tool absolutely needs to train a form of striking like Boxing or Muay Thai in order to be able to cope on the feet as well. If your only goal is to compete in BJJ or simply enjoy the sport then that’s fine, but if you want to use BJJ for MMA or self-defense then you absolutely need other martial arts too.
You Leave Your Ego At The Door
Leaving your ego at the door is a common phrase you’ll hear repeated in Jiu-Jitsu and other martial arts, but it’s also one of the biggest lies. It comes from seeing people with a high opinion of themselves who then refuse to tap to training partners they think are worse than them, or who get visibly angry on the mats. In order to prevent that, coaches tell students to avoid having an ego at all. The problem is that there’s a clear difference between having a healthy or unhealthy view of yourself, and that isn’t simply having an ego or not having one.
All of the greatest competitors in any sport, including BJJ, need to have an ego in order to actually succeed. It might seem arrogant to say that you’re the best competitor on the planet but you have to actually believe it in order to perform at that level. Even in the training room, you need to have an ego in order to improve. If everyone in the training room had no ego, they wouldn’t be able to push themselves to develop further and they wouldn’t be able to demand more from themselves every day. You shouldn’t leave your ego at the door, you should learn how to use it in a healthy and beneficial way.
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