Beginning my Jiu Jitsu journey is one of the best things I’ve done in my life. In spreading the word to others there are a few obstacles I find that stand in the way of new people who want to start training BJJ. Most of the reasons people don’t start training are actually based on misconceptions.
Here are some of the most common objections I hear. If you’re on the fence and one of these reasons is what’s holding you back, I hope that you find some information that lets you dive in. You’ll never regret it. Jiu Jitsu can also be a great therapy to overcome trauma and is especially beneficial for veterans too.
If you already train, and you’re trying to convince your friends to start, here is a blueprint to the common concerns they will have, whether they say them or not. Good luck!
The Top Reasons People Wait Too Long To Start Training BJJ
1.) Current fitness level
“I’ll start once I’m in shape. I probably couldn’t even finish a whole Jiu Jitsu class now.”
The internal monologue is – I haven’t worked out in years, and everyone keeps talking about how great of a workout BJJ is. Embarrassing myself in front of the class is not on my to-do list! Instead I’ll slowly work my way up to 100 pushups, 200 sit-ups, and running 5 miles every day. Once I’m in great shape, THEN I’ll start Jiu Jitsu.
Jiu Jitsu is a great workout, and you WILL probably be exhausted your first day. But everyone in class started off at that exact same spot and is understanding. We are happy just to have you on the mats! No one will judge you.
We don’t think, “I better get good at ping pong before I start playing tennis.” Why not just jump into the thing you want to do? Don’t put Jiu Jitsu behind the barrier of slogging through months of forcing yourself to work out.
Just start training BJJ!
There is actually no better way to get in shape for grappling than by grappling. Every class will be a workout, but will be so fun it won’t feel like one. The regular schedule makes it easy to build an exercise habit not reliant on willpower.
The type of fitness you need is difficult to acquire off the mats. It can’t really be built by running long distances or becoming a power lifter. Halfway through a class, I’ve seen marathon runners out of breath and powerlifters worn out.
Working out to get in shape is a completely different skillset. You could spend years tweaking diets and exercise routines. Instead why not just start doing one of the most fun full body workouts on the planet.
The good news is that after only a few weeks of actually doing Jiu Jitsu you will begin to feel much more comfortable about your fitness level for Jiu Jitsu. Getting in amazing shape is a byproduct of Jiu Jitsu.
Try to keep your breathing calm and relaxed and have fun.
Start training BJJ now!
Pro Tip: Eat well, drink plenty of water and get enough sleep to help you recover. After you’ve been training a month or two if you want to add “working out” into your regimen, go for it, but working out along with training early on will overload your body and increase the chance of injury.
Related Concern: Maybe I’m too old to start
People in their 90’s train. There is no “too old for BJJ.” Jiu Jitsu is very scalable. You can alter how hard you work which adjusts the difficulty of exercises. Most BJJ movements are relatively low impact or can be adapted. Be smart, and take care of yourself in class and you’ll be fine.
2.) Sounds too aggressive.
I don’t want to have to fight someone! That’s not for me.”
I’m not really all that aggressive or athletic. Confrontation isn’t my thing, and my job is stressful enough I don’t need to get home looking for fights. I saw Bloodsport. Trust me, Deathmatches aren’t for me.
You won’t have to fight anyone your first day. Or probably your second day, or probably even for months. In Jiu Jitsu we use the world “rolling” to describe sparring.
Usually you won’t begin rolling until you feel comfortable doing so. For most people with no experience this is after a few months of experience when you feel you have picked up a few things from class that you can try out.
Because technique helps leverage oversized results in Jiu Jitsu, success isn’t based on aggression as much as it is clean execution. Jiu Jitsu is a sport where nerding out on techniques can make you successful.
Finally, the under pressure problem solving aspect of training will augment your entire life. There are probably areas you wish you were more confident and assertive. Jiu jitsu will help with that. Commit to the long term to reap the true rewards (set a goal of a few times a week for a year).
3.) What if I’m already the alpha dog?
I already fight with my friends and I’m the best. There probably isn’t much more I could learn by doing BJJ.”
If I’m already tougher than most people why should I try something like BJJ? I’ve beat up Tae Kwan Do Black belts and won a dozen street fights. You’ve probably never met someone as strong as me before.
Most people outside of class are entirely untrained. The Jiu Jitsu Academy, however, is a room full of people that choke each other for fun for years on end.
Things won’t go so well for you with this mentality. If you are an athletic individual who decides to start training BJJ and you get past the initial hurdles you have the potential to go far.
Unfortunately, the alpha dog actually may NOT be a good fit for a Jiu Jitsu Academy. In my experience the alpha dog’s ego can’t usually handle losing.
The first time a much smaller, less athletic person takes it to them and taps them 5 times in a round they think about quitting. Being able to say “this is exactly what I need to learn.” Instead of “this isn’t for me” will make all the difference.
If they can make it past this to their ego though, there is a good chance they have all the tools to be very successful. As a matter of fact, an athletic practitioner with drive, who can listen to instruction has the unique chance to become a world champion!
4.) Money concerns
My budget is pretty tight. I don’t know if I can afford Jiu Jitsu.”
I’ve already got to be picky about where I spend my money. There are certain things I have to do to make sure I have enough fun in a week to recharge and be able to go back to work again. Committing to months of training sounds like a lot.
Jiu Jitsu does cost more than, say, a basic Planet Fitness membership. The value is much greater though! A well trained instructor is passing down information gathered over years of lessons condensed to make it easy to digest.
How much does it usually cost?
Where I train currently has membership plans starting as low as $50 per month and up to $110 monthly for unlimited training (nearly 20 classes per week possible!). Most gyms are in the $70-$150 per month range depending on where you live.
You’ll need to buy some gear as well to start. A Gi is typically a little over $100 for a basic design and the $150 range for one that looks cooler. You can find lightly used ones on Ebay to get you started if you are on a budget. (Just make sure you get a BJJ gi, and not a karate gi. There is a HUGE difference.). Most gyms have a collection of loaner gi’s which new students can use until they are able to afford their own.
Once you’ve bought a gi, it will probably last you a year or two. If you plan on training multiple times in a day, or days back to back without putting your gi in the dryer you may need to buy a second one.
The secret part is that once people start training BJJ they actually spend less money on other areas of their life AND their quality of life tends to improve.
Instead of trying to fill a void with quick “feel goods” BJJ is a sustainable solution. Renting movies, eating out, having a drink, or even cable suddenly feel not so important compared to Jiu Jitsu. Instead of needing cable or a movie to entertain me, I go have a blast on the mats. When I heat or drink unhealthily I feel it on the mats, so instead I find healthier ways.
5.) Busy Schedule
I can’t make it to all those BJJ classes. My life is way to hectic.”
Many people see the schedule for an academy and think it is like school – every class must be attended or it is useless. This is not the case with Jiu Jitsu. I’ve talked about this before, but the average beginner should try to attend 2 – 3 classes per week.
It will probably take a few months before you start to understand the vocabulary – “shrimp out”, “switch your hips”, “elevate”, “get under your opponent”, “post out”, etc. During this time you’ll go over a variety of moves from a variety of positions and start to build Jiu Jitsu based coordination. Some things will instantly work for you and some things will feel very awkward. This is all part of the journey.
Knowledge builds up over time, but there isn’t usually an organized way that it progresses.
6.) Where to start
I don’t even know where to begin.”
Google BJJ gym near me. Pick one out. Go there. Repeat until you find the one. A few weeks ago I shared some tips on evaluating which gym to go to.
The hardest part is by far, just showing up for your first class. Once you step on the mat, see how nice everyone is, and how fun Jiu Jitsu is, coming back is easy.
Dive into that swimming pool and don’t look back. Wading in slowly is only wasting valuable Jiu jitsu time. Enjoy your journey.
Something else holding you back? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!