The Many Awkward Conversations Of A Jiujiteiro

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is perhaps one of the most frustrating things to talk about with the uninitiated. Seriously. There are so many awful things about having any conversation with anyone who doesn’t do Jiu Jitsu and yet it’s almost unavoidable if you are remotely serious about your training.

For starters, we very often have physical marks on our bodies (neck, hands, face…) When people see the various abrasions and contusions that we accumulate as we train they sometimes feel the need to ask about them, and we are more often than not happy to explain, until they react to our conversation, and then we may get an inexplicable urge to leave a bow and arrow choke hickey on them…

People have a really hard time comprehending the motivation we have to train. So very often the words “I can’t, I’ve got to train” come out of my mouth. So very often the words “I’ve got a competition that weekend” come out of my mouth. And the responses to that are generally a combination of confusion and amusement. There is nothing funny about this. I need to train. Shut up, stop trying to get me not to.

These are all very mild annoyances to trying to explain BJJ to people. We’ve all heard the various things that stupid people say. Either asking if BJJ is like karate, making fun of the fact that we call it BJJ or referring to it as rolling with sweaty men instead of recognizing the beauty of the art.

I’ve seriously considered lying to people and telling them I play another sport. Insisting that I am on a football team or something. Or that I do crossfit. People dig crossfit right? People suck. Explaining Jiu Jitsu to people sucks. The worst part is that it’s unavoidable. I’ve basically given up on trying to get around it.

As far as getting people to try jiu jitsu, for the most part you’re better off getting them to donate you a kidney. I’m not saying there aren’t people who you can get to try out a class, in fact there are a few people I’ve gotten to try out a class, but those are few and far between. Family members? Nope. Friends? Mehhhh, People are either interested in trying it out or are not, and there will come a day when most of your friends are people you have choked or have choked you.

There will be very supportive people, and depending on what kinds of relationships you have with your friends/colleagues you may be way more fortunate than I am. For example, if you have friends or family that are fellow martial artists you may have a built in support network. Really it all depends on the kinds or relationships you have. I’ve got a few teammates who really have an impressive turnout of their friends when they compete, and that’s lovely. I’m just not one of those people. Most people in my life would rather watch paint dry than come watch me bake cookies on the mat in a high school gym.

What are your experiences with talking about your jiu jitsu endeavors with others? Are you like me and dread the moment that someone wants to ask you questions? Or do you welcome it?


  1. My experience with friends/family is divided into 3 categories of people: the uninterested, the interested, and the unintelligent.

    Uninterested people just won´t go into BJJ, they really don’t try to understand about it, and so basically won’t talk or ask much about it… “to each his own” attitude, no big deal in any way.

    Interested people are tricky because they actually want to know and try BJJ but they are either shy, afraid or lacking enough motivation to do so. I can have a conversation with them about BJJ but its mostly me explaining and sharing what i know.

    The unintelligent people around me mocks when asking, believe BJJ is like WWE wrestling and generally have little to no respect for the subject, mostly out of ignorance… i generally prefer not to talk to these people because their opinion do not matter to me. 🙂

  2. I am truly sorry that you encounter people who are that unenlightened! All it took was 30 seconds of the first BJJ/MMA fight I saw to be completely hooked, and a person would have to be blind not to appreciate the dedication, grit and determination it takes to be in fighting condition. For every person you meet that doesn’t get it, there are 10 fans out there cheering you on!

  3. I work in the IT department of a public library, and library employee demographics are heavily in favor of ultra non-violent bleeding hearts. The times I came to work with a black eye or some other visible injury from class, I’ve gotten horrified looks while I explain what happened. I might as well have told them that I got sucker punched while beating up some random nuns and preschoolers for fun. Then they follow up with a self righteous retort, to the effect of, “Well, I don’t believe in being violent!” Since I like being employed, I hold off on sarcastically congratulating them on their superior and enlightened world view, or asking them about the effectiveness of pleading and groveling in self defense situations.

  4. The only one who support me and understand why I train jiujitsu is my husband and that’s all I need…I’m very grateful and so happy that my husband support me and also thinking of start training with me. I don’t really care about other people who don’t get it.

  5. I am a woman and the questions I get are mostly this… You Fight??? Like are you crazy! Omgosh I would never do that, do fight men?
    Sometimes I just like to sit back and watch there faces while secretly thinking, “If I choked you out you would understand”. HAHA


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