My name is Joseph, currently 18 years old, and I have been doing martial arts since I was 5 yrs. old. In the following article I’m going to discuss my experiences with the various martial arts that I’ve taken leading up to my first experience with Gracie Barra Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
When I was little, I loved martial arts movies. Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan were my idols. My parents noticed my obvious interest and decided to find a local martial arts school that I could go to.
My Journey Begins
I started with Karate at my local community center, but I didn’t like it all. I felt like I was progressing too quickly even though I wasn’t putting forth that much effort. I would simply come into class yell a few convincing “KEE YAH’s” and then suddenly I had my next belt. This was my one and only experience with Karate so I’m not saying it’s a bad martial art, but it definitely wasn’t for me.
After only a few weeks of Karate I decided to quit and instead try out Kung Fu. I actually liked Kung Fu and I stuck with it. For the first few years I loved it, but eventually it just started to become a chore. With Karate I progressed too quickly, but In Kung Fu I barely Progressed at all. My parents wouldn’t let me quit and so as a result, I ended up practicing Kung Fu for NINE YEARS. Yup, you read that correctly, and after nine years of Kung Fu I only managed to get to my 3rd belt level and I was barely ever learning anything new. Impressive, huh? The good news is that my parents finally let me quit.
And the next martial art on my list of things to try, was fencing. Not exactly the first thing that comes to mind when you hear ‘martial arts’ but the fencing studio was right next door to the Kung Fu studio so it was a very easy transition.
Now, I actually lost interest in fencing relatively fast because I didn’t see any real practical use for it (When are you ever gonna get caught in a duel with Rapiers?) but don’t misinterpret my disinterest as an insult to fencing, because in the short time that I spent practicing fencing, I enjoyed it ALOT. It is a very, very enjoyable sport if you’re interested in that sort of thing, it just wasn’t practical enough for me.
Now on to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
So to recap, after 9 or so years of Karate, Kung Fu, and Fencing I was now 14 years old and kinda getting sick of martial arts in general. Fortunately though, my dad heard about Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and was able to convince a very reluctant me to try out ‘just one more’ martial art.
And so, one day we drove downtown and stopped by the small gym. The sign read “Gracie Barra Jiu Jitsu”. We walked in but there was only one person inside, the professor, a Brazilian man with a very cheerful disposition and a warming attitude. We began to talk to him about signing up, and although his accent was kind of hard to understand, he said that the next class session was in about 30 minutes and then offered us some uniforms (Gi’s) to use so we could join the next class, free of charge, to see if we liked it.
The class started with a quick warm up consisting of basic calisthenics such as jumping jacks, pushups, and crunches. Then we immediately began practicing a technique. He showed the basic Guard and Mount positions and then showed how to do an arm bar submission from the Mount. Then he had us practice the position with a partner for a few minutes before showing how to do the same arm bar from the Guard position, and after that, he had us do what he called ‘specific training’, where we would do the same positions he had just taught but this time your partner would try to resist. Basically, we were sparring.
This first class came as a huge surprise to me because in all the previous martial arts I had done, aside from fencing, you would almost never spar if you were a beginner. Instead you would spend the vast majority of your days practicing the same striking techniques over and over again or perhaps learn the eventual ‘form’. But with Jiu Jitsu we were immediately learning practical techniques that we could use and then applying them in modified sparring sessions. Suddenly, every other martial art I had ever practiced began to seem like a bunch of fluff, while Jiu Jitsu was a practical and fun experience from the get go.
In conclusion, Gracie Barra Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has been the best martial art that I have ever practiced, and after 4 years of training, I feel as though I have learned more useful and practical techniques than I ever learned during my 9 years of Karate, Kung Fu, or Fencing. And I would HIGHLY recommend Gracie Barra Jiu Jitsu to anyone who wants to learn a practical hands-on martial art.