What Keeps You Coming Back? - 18/11/2012
What Keeps You Coming Back? For Me It Was Finding Out How Little I Knew About Fighting.
It's such a common story now that you can almost feel peoples eyes roll when your answer to how you got into Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is: 'Well I saw skinny Royce Gracie kicking everybodys ass in the first UFC's and thought I better Learn that stuff!'
It's certainly a big reason why people started Bjj between 1993 and 2003 and even if it isnt UFC 1 still pushing people to BJJ academies around the world The UFC is still continuing to act as a great marketing tool for the Bjj community (especially with big supporters of Bjj like Joe Rogan being able to vocalise how it can be or should be used in MMA), but its probably fair to say that the UFC Legitimises other arts too, notably wrestling has enjoyed credit for many a success in the octagon and Karate and Muay Thai have also had there moments.
But what interests me at the moment is not necassarily what inspired people to try Bjj but what keeps them coming back for more.
Its not usually just one thing, but a combination of several, such as the camaraderie and a quest for knowledge etc but among all the reasons you have for training there is usually one overriding reason for training Bjj, which lets face it is probably the hardest thing you do on a regular basis even after you get 'good' at it.
So here's mine: To give you a little bit of background on me - I was never a martial artist, I boxed from 11 years old(1986 - you do the math) I was a good prospect in the gym but I didn't like the stress of competing, it didnt help that when I asked all the other boxers (most quite a bit older than me) if they were scared or nervous the reply was always emphatically NO, so I naturally assumed I wasn't cut out to compete, I find it very refreshing to hear high level MMA and BJJ competitors acknowledge the adrenaline surges and it's one of the reasons I was able to go back to competition and compete, regardless of my fight or flight impulses. I joined the Army at 16 and the introduction of alchohol cleared up any nerves when it came to fighting - and I certainly wasnt the only one, Barrack room brawls and fights with 'civvies' from the local town or rival regiments if you were part of a large Garrison Town were common place and even somewhat encouraged, especially as this was pre CCTV. It was these experiences in the forces that actually put me off Martial Arts, I saw more than 1 'Black Belt' fail to represent the Martial Arts well in a fight and I felt I was probably 'winning' more fights than these guys that trained. I ran, lifted some weights and hit a punch bag regularly and to me this kept me in the fight with most people and after countless scraps I figured I knew a thing or two about fighting.
At 24 I left the Army and became unfit so I looked for ways to get back in shape and against my better judgement tried some martial arts. Alot were fun and interesting and I certainly met some skilled guys particularly in the JKD community that could handle themselves but it wasnt until I was told to go and train in London with some Brazilian guy called Mauricio Gomes that I was woken up to the real difference between a scrappy guy and a trained guy. I had been to some MMA shows and was aware of the UFC and BJJ but I still had my experiences in the Army embedded in my memory of the guy that had a black belt in this or that getting dropped with a straight right hand.
I arrived at Seymour Leisure Centre near Marylebone Station and I remember getting changed in a small changing room with mostly Brazilian guys talking and joking in Portugeuse (probably laughing at the lamb about to get slaughtered) but everything after that is a bit of a blur. Mauricio took the class and there were white belts, blue belts and even 1 or 2 purple belts training if I remember correctly and this was 2001 so a very impressive level for that time although it wouldnt have mattered much if it was al white belts because I GOT SMASHED!!! Like I said it became a blur, I'm pretty sure I was fighting back and by my exhaustion I must have been trying quite hard, but the result was always the same - me tapping or yelling in pain or almost going to sleep!
The train ride back to Aylesbury was a sobering one, How could I know so little about fighting? I had been in lots of fights, watched even more!! But these guys were killing me and if you understand what a choke is they were literally killing me! and all without even breaking a sweat!! Close to tears (yep I said it!) I knew I had a decision to make - 1. Forget that ever happened and pretend BJJ does not exist or is just over hyped or 2. Learn it and keep learning it so that the number of people that can manhandle me in such a way is greatly reduced.
Obviously I took option 2. And it's one of the main reasons I keep training, Keep rolling and Keep trying to improve my game, I am constantly trying to reduce the number of people that can kick my ass without breaking a sweat!
Theres lots of positives to training BJJ and Martial arts in general - Self defence - Fitness - Fun etc etc but what is it that drives you to come back to the mat week in week out regardless of how hard it might be? - let me know, you've heard mine I'm interested to hear yours.