What Is BJJ?
At its very core, BJJ is a grappling-based martial art that focuses on using techniques such as chokes and joint locks to subdue opponents.
Your primary goal in BJJ is to survive deadly encounters by controlling your opponent and forcing them to submit, even without the use of strikes or kicks. In self-defense situations, that includes defending yourself even against larger attackers, prioritizing technique over strength.
A difficult goal to achieve, but jujitsukas are taught how to control their bodies in such a way that they can use maximum leverage and build adequate momentum when performing techniques, often resulting in a submission.
This means they can render specific body parts worthless or position themselves in such a way that the enemy cannot counterattack them.
Specific concepts are integral to all of this, such as balance and weight distribution, as these are what allow jujitsukas to reach a dominant position in the first place.
How Fast Is The Growth Of BJJ?
BJJ is growing fast, and its popularity at this point is undeniable. With millions of practitioners and an excellent reputation for being one of the best self-defense martial arts out there, BJJ is a powerful force picking up momentum quickly, and it's unlikely to slow down.
A report from the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Academy (IBJJA) shows that there are over 15,000 registered BJJ schools all over the world, spread across 77 countries in total. That's a 300% increase since 2008, which is an impressive achievement in and of itself.
The IBJJA also estimates that about 30 to 50 new academies open up every month worldwide. Huge corporations are also actively sponsoring BJJ, the most noteworthy among them being the UFC itself. Even some governmental sectors have begun following suit.
Why Is There Such An Increase In Participation?
A key reason for BJJ's popularity is exposure from massive corporations, notably the UFC. BJJ is a common sight in UFC championships. There aren't very many specialists for it, sure, but MMA fighters frequently use BJJ techniques and principles to startling effect.
Although this is difficult to measure, strong word of mouth also cannot be underestimated. BJJ began spreading rapidly once people outside of Brazilian started picking it up, and dojos sprout up all over the world everyday.
Granted, not every dojo is successful, or even up to par with BJJ's rigorous standards, but it should give you an idea of how popular BJJ is. It's a household name at this point, a familiar phrase even to those who know nothing about martial arts.
But perhaps the strongest factor for its success lies in one of its fundamental aspects: anyone can be good at BJJ, no matter their strength or size.
Few martial arts can offer the kind of raw appeal that BJJ has in this regard. Many require some degree of strength or physical fitness; or if they didn't, you still can't be expected to perform well against others of a similar size or strength.
But this isn't the case in BJJ. A trained practitioner will beat out an untrained one regardless of the size difference. And that makes BJJ incredibly powerful... and popular.
Why do people love BJJ so much?
The physical benefits of BJJ are very easy to find: with moves and drills that closely resembles calisthenics exercises, BJJ can provide you with grueling full-body workouts that'll keep you lean, fit, and healthy.
But in addition to maintaining your health though, the martial art also provides you with avenues to improve your focus and mental acuity.
Jujitsukas must often make snap decisions that can decide the flow of a bout. These decisions will need to be done while still following proper technique--and while another person is trying to beat you in the exact same way.
There are even strong psychological benefits involved. Practitioners often enjoy lower levels of stress and anxiety, while exhibiting higher levels of confidence and and a heightened sense of self-worth.
It's fairly easy to see why BJJ makes them feel this way. The martial art is incredibly difficult, but that difficulty paves the way for fulfilling milestones that'll make you feel incredible once they've been achieved.
All the more so when you consider that BJJ is an individual sport first and foremost. While team-based accomplishments are full of merit in their own right, Brazilian jiu-jitsu allows you to fully enjoy the fruits of your own labor. Your achievements are yours and yours alone.
Each event offers its own unique experience with different rules and regulations depending on location; some are even open to all skill levels so that beginners can learn how to take part as well!
Is It Hard To Learn?
The great thing about BJJ is that it challenges your mind and body. Both will be pushed to its limits until you reach a point of total mastery.
A consequence of this, however, is that the sport is particularly difficult to learn. Success will require you to be able to think on your feet and come up with solutions, even when you're placed in unfavorable situations. This isn't something that you can learn quickly or easily.
Naturally, you will fail--a lot. Rolling in general requires a lot of trial and error before something really "clicks" for you, but this is all part of the learning process.
Just be sure to listen to your instructor carefully, keep practicing what you learn and take drills seriously. Don't feel disheartened if you find yourself struggling. Each person learns differently and at their own pace. You shouldn't be ashamed of your own.
Even if someone looks more experienced than you, don't let this intimidate you or discourage you from continuing your training. Remember, everyone started off as a beginner!
Conclusion: A Worthy Martial Art
The martial arts world is caught in the craze of BJJ, and there's no reason to believe this will change in the future. The martial art lends its overwhelming popularity to a variety of factors, not least of all its incredible effectiveness at self-defense.
But its benefits go far beyond that. From physical to mental, personal to social, BJJ always has something to offer and teach you. A huge part of why it's so popular, no doubt!
Curious what kinds of benefits BJJ can give you? Don't worry, we've got you covered!