Every practitioner you ask will have a different answer, and many will have a multi-part answer. I decided to take BJJ for several reasons, including to increase my level of physical activity, spend some quality time with people I care about, and most practically, for self-defense.
Physical activity is obviously healthy for utilizing muscles that aren’t exercised at my desk job. It also helps my brain stay balanced through the release of endorphins. Therefore, I must have some kind of exercise in my life.
It’s particularly hard as a white belt.
There is no way around saying that. It’s hard because it combines so many types of difficulties, condenses them to an hour or two every couple of days, and leaves you asking what just happened. I think that as I progressively learn technique, it will get less difficult. Having said that, I’m pretty sure it will never get easy. But what makes BJJ so hard?
A little background on me. I’m a 36 year old guy who, up until BJJ, had never taken any martial arts classes. In fact, I had never been very active. I didn’t wrestle, play football or baseball, run, or enjoy swimming, and I hated mandatory phys. ed. throughout school. I never got in a fight, and though I was constantly teased and picked on, I never had a mindset for revenge.
I grew up in the era of The Karate Kid, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, etc., and late night reruns of kung fu movies. Love or hate them, stars like Jean Claude Van Damme, Steven Seagal, and even Chuck Norris set a lot of the standards for how kids my age thought about martial arts. Lots of my friends took Taekwondo and Karate, and Jeet Kune Do was referenced regularly as the greatest of the martial arts (presumably based more on the superstar nature of Bruce Lee than actual knowledge about JKD). When I was in high school, I was fortunate enough to attend UFC 4 here in Tulsa, where Royce Gracie continued his quest to show the world the merits of his family’s art. As with many people, this was my introduction to BJJ.