Contrary to what you might glean from the unfortunate acronym “BJJ.” It’s a real sport with real competition.
You can train more/less safely at full intensity. Unlike in running or lifting weights, you can’t tell yourself little white lies about exhaustion and ease up — not without consequences. So we go hard. The mirrors get steamed up by end of every training session. It’s insane. Another consequence of real competition is that unlike in many martial arts, the space between theory and practice is tight. Bullshit gets exposed.
I love that some of our guys train with us because they fight in mixed martial arts (further testimony to the efficacy of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu). I love that I’m knowledgeable enough to make them better fighters, even the strong ones whom I can no longer submit on the mat. I love being able to take Curt to back-ally cage fights, point and say, that’s my guy right there. And then watch him win. When we went a couple weeks ago, 3 out of 4 of my guys won all their fights. All of them grappled.
I like that it keeps you humble too. Everyone says this about BJJ guys. Because we get tapped out, we get choked, inevitably by people whom we consider not as good as us. You can only proceed in the sport with big chunks of your ego left behind.
I think there’s also something about complicated muscle movements which makes parts of the brain flourish. I usually leave training feeling high on life — of course, once in a while, I leave depressed, thinking I haven’t learned a single goddamn thing — zero, zilch, nada — in my 6+ years of practice.
Here’s my favorite article on BJJ: http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/the-pleasures-of-drowning