Your Place In Bjj - 08/07/2012

What is your place in Bjj? Occasional Practitioner or future world Champion?
I was told by a training partner that his friend has just given up practicing Bjj just short of recieving his Blue Belt - By all accounts this guy was a slightly above average learner with a strong likelyhood that if he stuck at Bjj he would achieve the rank of Black Belt barring any serious injuries by the 10 year mark or perhaps quicker either of which are notable lifetime achievements. When asked why he quit his answer was simply 'I'm never going to be a World Champion so whats the point!' - my initial thought was 'well not with that attitude he wont!'it didnt give me a reason to pause and think straight away but after a while it slowly started to bother me a bit that someone could give up a pursuit that has helped me become a better person over the years not to mention that I've seen it do the same for many others just because he wasnt going to be one of the best in the world at it.... 

First of all we all have our place in the world, a position that you are generally born into and can change for the better with lots of hard work and a bit of luck or make substantially worse with no effort and a run of misfortune, and despite what some people might tell you, really the only person that can truelly effect your life in a positive way is yourself, but ultimately the hand you are dealt with at birth, the people you are born to, the country you are born in and the general state of affairs in the world mainly dictate what you can and cant do.
But if you are able to put food on the table and a roof over yours and your loved ones heads and still have some finances left over then you can learn jiu jitsu - and you should!
The Ufc Commentator Joe Rogan recently achieved his Black belt in Bjj after many years of training and as he has celebrity status through his work on TV it was nicely publicised. During a short speech after getting his new belt Joe Rogan said “Martial arts are a vehicle for developing your human potential,” Rogan goes on to make a heartfelt statement of the importance of Jiu-Jitsu as a tool for human betterment, summing up what the gentle art means to him: “Nothing in my life has ever put me in touch with reality better than Jiu-Jitsu. Jiu-Jitsu has been one of the most valuable tools I have ever had in my life.” So regardless of your place in Bjj pursuing the coveted Black belt will clearly help you in other areas of your life and regardless of how many World titles you dont win positive outcomes and a sense of worth are not to be overlooked as reasons to keep training.
The Places - Im sure you can add to this list and break down the categories even further but here is a good outline of the roles available within bjj, some are reserved to a select few but most are open to everyone at every belt level and there is an infinite number of places to be filled in most cases.

1. THE OCCASIONAL PRACTITONER: So you train once a week or less, its unrealistic to think youre going to keep up with everyone all the time and its even a good possibility that newer guys will come in after you and overtake you just on the basis that they put more hours in, but being overtaken isnt reserved just for the occasional practioner, there was probably alot of guys many years ago in Gracie Barra that gave Roger Gracie a whooping when he was a young blue belt but now they would struggle to even give him a workout, but fear not if you are in this category (and it probably doesnt mean you're lazy, more that family and work commitments prevent you training more)  there are still alot of positives to take away from Bjj, you will be fitter than if you didnt train at all, you are part of the team, you will know how to defend yourself against an untrained attacker and if you watch the UFC you wont be bored if the fight goes to the ground!

2. THE REGULAR PRACTITIONER: Training 2-3 times a week or more you are the back bone of the Academy. Always there, always on time and appropriately dressed, you always pay on time and lets face it a gym has bills to pay and without the regular practitioners there probably wouldnt be a team at all. often a regular practitioner will go on to be one of the later types of trainer choosing to step up there training with a view to teach or maybe to try their hand at competition, but over the last 12 years I have known more than one person to train 2-3 times a week and reach Black Belt comfortably and then continue to train 2-3times a week as a black belt almost as a kind of gate keeper setting the bar for everybody else.

3. THE SERIOUS NON COMPETITIOR: This player has no interest in competing simply because its not for them or other areas of their life are a challenge enough, however if they wanted to they would likely do well under the stresses of competition, but even though they choose not to compete they are a valuable tool for the competitors because they are willing to act as sparring partners for them, they will start sparring from standing and generally go the extra mile in training even though it wont be them in the limelight or on the podium they can still relish in their training partners successes because ultimately a little bit of the medal is theirs.

4.THE OCCASIONAL COMPETITOR: Basically they are a regular practitioner but every now and then they will dip their toe in the water of a comp, these guys can often be found on the podium because of a solid overall game that gets them through. Then content with their performance its back to the gym Monday morning or evening as usual and back to the path of regular practice to refine their skills based on any lessons learned at the competition.

5. THE SERIOUS COMPETITOR: The Bjj adrenaline junkie, if it looks like a fight they are probably there, Bjj, No Gi, Amateur MMA you name it they are up for it, often they have a game and when it works they win and when it doesnt they will work hard on making it work next time! The fact that they test their skills under pressure usually means a faster rise through the belts but not always. To be a serious competitior takes alot of hard work and self discipline, some serious competitors will win major titles with good work ethic alone and persistence, some will be forever the 'also ran' amongst some of the elite but it doesnt matter as the saying goes 'Even if you shoot for the moon and miss atleast your place will be amongst the stars'

6. THE POTENTIAL WORLD CHAMPION: I've met a few of these over the last decade but not many, you may recognise them - they are the young Blue belt tapping Black Belts or the Brown Belt that had to move to a bigger team because there simply wasnt enough high level training partners to push them the way they needed to be pushed. They are a rare blend of natural talent, good genetics, age, learning ability and probably living close to a large academy if not in it! but the one key ingrediant that all of them will need is hard work and good mentoring, if they dont have these then reaching there full potential is unlikely.

Not many of these guys around and the age old argument of whether a champion is born or made is never more fitting than with a Bjj Absolute Gold Medalist. I'll let you make your own mind up on that one - but keep an eye out, the next Absolute Champ could be training alongside you already, after all Rodolfo Viera was just a big white belt looking to lose some weight!

So which one are you?? And dont forget it doesnt matter if you are training once a week or a future champ the team needs you, all you have to do is find your place.