So what motivated me, a thirty-something couch potato to pick up Brazilian Jiu Jitsu? Why not running or biking like most of my friends?  To be completely honest, I’m not sure. I know it started about 4+ years ago. My son, who was 4 at the time, was in “karate.” It was really a  mix of several disciplines, styled in a way that the kids had fun doing it.  One thing he learned was a hammer fist.


One night I’m flipping through the chanels and I hear Joe Rogan on Spike TV, while talking about an MMA match, say “He’s hitting him with a lot of hammer fists.”  I was curious, I had figured that the teacher made up the name to help the kids learn it.  As I watched the match I was intrigued (and really, hooked.)  I thought it was interesting, but one thing I knew, I didn’t want to get punched in the face (or anywhere for that matter.) 

As I watched more MMA, I realized that Brazilian Jiu Jitsu was a big part of it, and as a discipline itself, you didn’t have to get punched in the face.  So I thought it would be interesting to learn.  But I didn’t do anything to learn BJJ for a long time. Then this summer I started a new job. And within 3 weeks we had 3 new employees (out of 5 total.) One day we were sitting around talking and we found out one guy is a home beer brewer, the other does fencing. They asked me what weird or unique hobby I had, and I didn’t really have any.  I used that as a reason to finally go try BJJ.

Another aspect of BJJ that I think hooked me was that it is at the same time simple and complex. In the open class at Mid-America, as part of the warm up, everyone does the same basic moves:

Armbar from Guard:


Armbar from Mount:


Triangle Choke:


It doesn’t matter  if you’re a white belt like me, or a a purple, brown or black. You do these exercises. It’s basic enough that I can do a (sloppy) armabr. It’s complex enough that the purple and brown belts are tweaking their moves to make them just right. It’s simple enough that after a month or so, I learned a handful of moves. It’s complex enough that I can spend the rest of my life making those moves better.

I think a final aspect that drew me to BJJ was the philosophy behind the belts. In BJJ there are only 5 belts

  1. White
  2. Blue
  3. Purple
  4. Brown
  5. Black

But just because there are only 5 belts doesn’t mean that you’ll be a black belt in 3 or 4 years. In fact, one of my instructors just got his purple this year, and he started 8 years ago. Brazillian Jiu Jitsu focuses on really learning the skills. I’d say it’s almost as if by the time you get the next belt, you’ve been operating as that belt for a while. And in my book, if it takes work, then you really earned it. I didn’t want to take a martial art where I moved up in belts as fast as I could pay for testing. When I get my blue belt, I’ll know that I’m truly at a blue belt level and I earned it.

So perhaps the biggest motivation for me to learn BJJ is my own personal psychosis — I need to be challenged,  I can’t take the easy way.  But whatever my motivation is, it’s working. I absolutely love going to the gym, and on days that the gym is closed, or I have to miss, I feel miserable.