In the words of Helio Gracie, founder of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, ‘BJJ is a sport for the older man, the weak, the child, the lady, and anyone who lacks the physical attributes to defend themselves.’
It is estimated that 65% of fights go to the ground, so BJJ takes its place as a sport that equips you with a holistic understanding of your limits and capabilities. It meets you where you are, with your self-limiting beliefs and transforms you incrementally into a person who has a better command of both their physical and mental conditioning.
Have you ever found yourself cornered, vulnerable and defenceless, your ego and pride have taken a battering and you’re beginning to doubt yourself. Your tried and tested methods have not promised the results you were hoping for. If you are tempted to throw in the towel, follow on for BJJ Legends: Top 3 Quotes – all their mantras are well worth internalizing!
1. Roger Gracie
‘We are measured not when we are the strongest, but when we are the weakest. That’s when we truly measure our character and who we are.’ – Roger Gracie
Roger Gracie is one of the most accomplished and well-decorated BJJ practitioners to date. Being the grandson of the founder of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Roger trained BJJ from a young age.
He won his first silver medal as a black belt at the age of 22 and promptly went on to compete and win gold in numerous world championships across multiple weight divisions.
He has racked up a total of 16 gold medals along with a handful of silver medals in a career that spans well over a decade. He currently trains and coaches out of his Roger Gracie Academy based in London.
If you’ve ever found yourself in the unfortunate position of being in a rear naked choke, you’ll know all too well that you have little time to be in your head before you are no longer in your body.
Hence why drilling movements repetitively during training is so important, it is to ingrain the moves into your muscle memory so that you are comfortable moving instinctively with minimal thought.
2. Saulo Ribeiro
‘Jiu-Jitsu makes you believe in the power of now. You can’t think while you are training. You’re right there man!’ – Saulo Ribeiro
With numerous gold and silver medals under his belt, Saulo Ribeiro is a 6th-degree Jiu-Jitsu athlete and educator.
Initially training in Judo, Ribeiro transitioned to Jiu-Jitsu at the age of 15 under the watchful gaze of Royler Gracie, son of Helio Gracie the founder of BJJ.
Said to have coached over 2000 students through his Ribeiro Jiu-Jitsu Association, Ribeiro is responsible for graduating more than 60 black belts. He has most notably authored the famed and highly regarded BJJ training manual by the name of Jiu-Jitsu University.
Who do you encounter up close and personal in every class and every roll but yourself?
There is little wisdom in switching your competitiveness on and off like a switch between training and competing when your biggest competition is yourself.
3. Rafael Mendes
‘I’m a competitor every single day in the academy, every round of sparring. Everything I’m doing, I’m competing.’ – Rafael Mendes
With 16 gold medals to his name, Rafael Mendes has built a reputation for being a formidable featherweight champion.
Introduced to BJJ through his cousin, Mendes and his brother began training in their early teens. They found a father figure in their coach Ramon Lemos, who coached them on their techniques as well as moral values.
Currently on hiatus from competing, Rafael can be found coaching out of his Art of Jiu-Jitsu Academy.
BJJ is every bit a philosophy as it is a sport; what you may lack in physical strength and brute force you can compensate with mental toughness and technique.
Having a better understanding of yourself will also provide you with a better understanding of your opponent. You can build on your understanding by having a reflective approach to your performance on and off the mat.
Ask yourself what worked for you and what didn’t after each class, take notes, and then implement and adapt. Your progress will then be swift.