My training partner from the other night just received his BJJ black belt, at age 51, after 22 years of training. That’s what I like about BJJ —the black belt is not an incentive to sign up on a course, it’s a thing hard-earned and treasured. When you get a BB in BJJ, you’ve done something, where as in so many other schools, where the dance school mentality has become a core operating principle (with it’s plethora of justifications and reasoning), 7 year old black belts and black belts who can’t really perform, are the norm.
I like BJJ as a tool for all martial artists as you can’t hide in BJJ. You can’t hide in a fistfight or kickboxing match either, but you can’t go at 100% and not sustain injuries when striking and getting hit yourself; in BJJ you can go off —98 to 100%, and walk away unharmed. The gentle art. Perfect for an older but enthusiastic athlete / practitioner like me, perfect for anyone who cares about the brain.
Kata and gymnastics and performance-martial-arts and weaponry, contemporary or historical, and all the many aspects of martial arts all have value, practiced for the right reasons, with feet perfectly planted in reality. I’m not implying one is “better” than another, but BJJ is, in my experience, special, different.
While I have participated in the martial arts community for many years, promoting children to the rank of black belt and selling “black belt club courses,” —today, separated from those practices for 2 decades, BJJ has re-grounded me, reminded me of what hard earned skill is, reminded me to slow down and seek a level of pragmatic, useful skill, over the mythical skills of the practitioner who, under pressure, can’t really make it work.
That’s not saying that a knife fighter who never slices someone or wounds or kills an opponent isn’t one dangerous and deadly foe, but as a form of test-your-metal engagement, BJJ is hands down the most honest and safest of methods. I recommend all serious and capable martial artists engage the art with a competent teacher.
In short order, BJJ quickly distinguishes the martial artist who implies he/she can, from those who really can.