Tuesday, June 21, 2011

To Clarify Who BJJ Is For

I think I didn't clarify the point I was making as I tend to get off point. There is a certain level of strength and athleticism you need for BJJ. I think what happens though is, the expectation, the feel, or the need, to be at a professional athlete's level for a sport that is not a professional sport. I know there are competitions where competitors get paid and they are working on making professional leagues but its still far from a pro sport. There are competitions sponsored by the Sheik of Abu Dhabi but when all the money is coming from one person and not from the viewing audience (or lack of a general audience), it cannot be considered a professional sport. It's still a hobby sport that was a martial art. Wrestling is not even a professional sport, it's an amateur sport (it's played in schools and Olympics whereas BJJ is not).

If you do it for the honor or you want to compete and win, it's still understandable. Yet still even for the people who never compete or never want to compete and only want to train a few days a week as a hobby, there is a certain peer pressure to take it up a notch and do this thing at a professional level (without pay of course). I probably train way too often and I am in a pretty good shape so this isn't a post about me. It's for those guys who don't feel like they have enough free time to commit to this or are in good enough shape who feel disenfranchised. BJJ should be able to adapt to everyone, everyone's circumstances, commitment level, and level of physical capability.

Imagine this level of peer pressure and expectation for other hobby sports like disc golf, employee softball leagues, etc. Actually a professional disc golf player can earn over a 100k a year just on their winnings believe it or not whereas a lot of BJJ players train 8 times more than they do and are in way better shape of course, but don't make any money and in fact lose money every year they are in BJJ (tournament fees, academy fees, gym fees, personal training, missing hours from work, medical bills, etc.) Fantasy football players even make money. In most professional sports, you don't lose money competing, you make it. Also most sports have seasons, whereas in BJJ the expectation is to be in great shape year round.

When BJJ players and wrestlers want to turn pro, they go into MMA. And in MMA, it makes sense to have the expectation to be a professional athlete.

There are a number of great athletes I train with. An old man who trains with us who always complains about being too old or out of shape saw a younger player sparring and saw his athleticism. It truly is phenomenal. He said, "that guy is such a tremendous athlete! He's in the wrong sport."

I asked him what should he be doing. He replied, "that guy could be Tiger Woods or Michael Jordan. What's he doing this for?"

He does it because he loves BJJ. There are a lot of professional football players who love BJJ too, but no one will stop playing pro ball to train BJJ full-time. Their athleticism would be underserved.

Someone made a comment that those "fat coaches" I mentioned before used to be athletes. He is correct for the most part but I know for a fact there are a lot of coordinators and coaches in football who have always been fat and never played pro ball (or ever a good player) who are excellent at what they do. But actually that's not the point I was making.

For whatever reason in BJJ, no one wants to train with the fat coach. Whereas in other sports you don't care what shape your coach is in. In BJJ you want your coach to be a World Champ, still competitive, still winning, still an athlete. Nothing wrong with being an athlete, that's great, if you are an uber athlete, even better. What doesn't make sense is the expectations, for the students and even the teacher to be like The Ultimate Warrior. Not only that but to be like him year round, even when your done competing and just teaching. You also become a master of strength and conditioning, crossfit, nutrition, supplements, steroids on occasion, pain relievers, doctors, and of course weight cutting. I've never known a person who plays league softball at work or club tennis on steroids, but I've known of and heard about so many in the BJJ world that they want to start testing. You don't get paid yet you go on roids???

But maybe through BJJ people live out some fantasy, of being that professional athlete they always wanted to be...

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