It goes without saying that jiu-jitsu deserves all the respect it gets. It's a fulfilling, effective martial art that has taught valuable lessons to millions of people around the world.
But it's "no pain, no gain," as the familiar adage goes, and this applies to jiu-jitsu the same way it does to anything else. Well, in this case... maybe a bit more than anything else.
Because let's admit it, jiu-jitsu is a ton of fun, but it's also hard. It can be tiring, brutal, and painful. And today, we're going to be looking into just how hard jiu-jitsu actually is--and if it's the hardest combat sport of all!
Why Is Jiu-Jitsu So Hard?
The most immediate reason that Brazilian jiu-jitsu is so hard is because it's a very technical sport, requiring years of study and consistent practice in order for a practitioner to achieve mastery.
And we're not exaggerating about that "years" bit, just so you know. Earning a black belt in jiu-jitsu is a massive endeavor that requires a huge time investment, at least 10 years for the average person. And even then, it will likely take more than that.
Techniques involved in BJJ are also incredibly complex, demanding both physical strength as well as a deep understanding of the principles behind each move. This means that in order to thrive in this sport, you won't just need physical endurance; you'll need focus and mental acuity, as well.
Those who stick with it, however, will find that they've become fully capable of defending themselves, whether it's in a friendly spar in their dojo, a full-on bout in a competition, or against an actual assailant.
Is BJJ the Hardest Martial Art to Learn?
Unfortunately, this is a subjective question with no definite answer. Everyone has their own personal experience with BJJ, and there won't necessarily be a lot of overlap between them.
However, BJJ is without a doubt one of the most difficult martial arts. In fact, it's notorious for being particularly brutal when you're first getting into it. The sport is built around the principle that anyone can learn it, but it certainly isn't easy to try.
For starters, BJJ requires the use of your entire body. Majority of martial arts are brutal to train with, but BJJ is unique in that it demands a lot out of every joint you have.
Boxing will heavily prioritize your arms. Taekwondo will demand a lot out of your legs. Sports like muay Thai demand both, along with additions like your elbows and knees. BJJ just asks for everything outright.
It's also, as previously mentioned, incredibly technical. Brazilian jiu-jitsu is rigorous, information-heavy, and involves a plethora of different techniques, many of which require hundreds of hours and thousands of tries before they can be masterfully executed.
So you have here a sport that is both physically and mentally draining, one that requires you to push both your mind and your body to its limits. Put these two reasons together, and you can see why BJJ has firmly cemented its position as one of the most difficult combat sports out there.
How to Make BJJ Training Easier
Although training is difficult, it doesn't have to be a grueling process. BJJ should be enjoyable, and going into your dojo shouldn't be terrifying for you.
There are a number of things you can do to make training easier for yourself, with the first among them being to give your body time to rest.
If you're going into training sore or fatigued, then it'll be difficult for you to listen, focus, and perform to the best of your abilities. If you do strength training or cardio alongside BJJ, for example, then just be sure not to overdo it.
Next, provide your body with what it needs. Although martial arts in general will teach you to be strong and capable, the human body still has a tendency to be fickle and frail if uncared for. As such, it's important to listen to yours and make sure it gets sufficient sustenance.
That includes eight hours of sleep, a daily caloric intake that accounts for energy expenditure during training, and lots, lots, and lots of water!
The last thing you can do, although it might seem counterproductive, is to allow training to be difficult.
Some things in BJJ will naturally suck at first, especially as our minds and bodies are still getting used to all the daunting things being thrown at them. But the best way to get rid of those feelings of fear and indecision is to look at whatever it is you need to do, and just get it done with.
Get uncomfortable. Allow yourself to feel pain and fatigue. Practice those joint locks and grappling holds that you're so scared of. Only by enduring these things over and over will you finally get used to it. And once you do get used to it, the rewards will all be yours to reap.
Why Keep Training Anyway?
Training in jiu-jitsu can be incredibly beneficial for both your mind and your body. Not only will it instill in you discipline and commitment that will seep into other aspects of your life, but it's also an excellent way to maintain physical fitness.
No matter how you put it, grappling just isn't easy. Principles like leverage and weight distribution prompt jujitsukas to utilize the entirety of their bodies when practicing, and jiu-jitsu techniques never involve just one joint.
So whenever you train, you can expect your entire body to get worked up. But on the bright side, this does also mean you get a full-body workout!
But the benefits don't just end there. You'll improve as an athlete, and you can expect to develop explosive strength, speed, agility, and endurance as you further progress.
And finally, it's healthy for your mind, as it provides lots of opportunity for strategizing and is an overall great way to relieve stress.
And probably the best reason to keep on training: it's just fun! The sense of improvement, the feeling of personal pride and achievement, that look of fulfillment after every brutal, aching session--all of it adds up to an experience that just feels great to be a part of.
There aren't very many things that can offer you the kind of thrill that BJJ can. It's no wonder people keep coming back to it.
BJJ needs a tremendous amount of time, energy, and dedication out of you before you can be successful in it. It's among the most difficult combat sports out there, and those who have toiled learning it can attest to that.
But that's no reason for you to be discouraged. Those who have the focus, grit, and perseverance to push through in spite of all the hardships they face will find bountiful rewards for all their efforts.
So yes, BJJ is difficult. It always will be. But it's also always worth it!
Curious about how BJJ fares compared to its sister sport, judo? So are we! We've looked into this topic already, and you can click here to find our results.