Why We Continue With BJJ

Several years ago, I was attending a family gathering in celebration of my brother-in-law’s 85th birthday when an older family friend, who had known me for more than 50 years, asked me why I felt the need to engage in a combat activity such as BJJ at my age (67 at the time).

I considered her question, and tried several different approaches to answering it, each being met with somewhat of an antagonistic attitude on her part.

Finally, after realizing that she was choosing not to comprehend any of my explanations, I ended the conversation by saying simply, “Because I can,” and walked away.

I am sure many older grapplers have experienced similar situations. I know I have been asked the question many times.

As a group, we go against the established societal timeline, that being as you age you must slow down and move on to “kinder and gentler” forms of activity. We are outliers.

When you challenge the purported existing norms, many folks, especially your contemporaries, often can become almost aggressive in their interrogation of you, seeking some “secret” need you are fulfilling by your continued participation in activities meant only for younger people.

After pondering the matter for some time, I have, at least in my case, arrived at certain conclusions with respect to why BJJ is such an important part of my life, and why I expect it always will be.

Here I am addressing reasons that are not commonly focused on; reasons that go beyond fitness, self-defense and camaraderie, although I think those aspects of participation in BJJ are extremely important.

1. Primal Nature

I believe there is something in our DNA that hankers back to a much earlier time where physical combat between individuals was a frequent occurrence as part of daily life, tribal interactions and mating rituals.

Today’s homogenized life has, to a great extent, eliminated the need for such interactions, but the ability to engage in them in a controlled manner fulfills something that remains inherently a part of us.

2. Suspension of Time

When we are deeply engaged in BJJ, whether it be concentrating on trying to master a new technique or focusing during a roll, all the other aspects of out lives seem to move to the background.

All of us are facing many issues, including aging parents, paying for college tuitions, and the general economic problems that follow us through life.

But when we are on the mats, a certain freedom exists in which we can focus totally on the task at hand. Times like those are rare in life!!!

3. Simplicity

Modern life can be very complex, often involving issues that do not have a clear answer, but rather encompass many shades of grey.

On the mats, solutions can become much clearer; “if I do this, he will do that.” BJJ gives our minds a reprieve from the complexity and lets us focus on the necessary.

4. Release

In today’s society, we often have to control our feelings of aggression to comport with the standards expected of us, yet inherently many of us harbor aggressions that seek some form of release.

BJJ provides that release in a constructive manner that allows us to function more effectively in our daily lives. How many of us have felt that gentle feeling of relief after a particularly arduous class?

5. Who I am

BJJ is not merely something I do, it is who I am. It encompasses my entire being down to my soul and as I dive deeper and deeper into its teachings, I find out more and more about myself.

I gain more confidence and ability in my off-mat activities. I interact with my family and other folks in a kinder and more effective manner. I become more of who I want to be!!!

As always, I wish you continued success in your training and in your life!!!

Tom Corrie
BJJ Purple Belt
2018 World Master Champion