Dealing With People Who Criticize Your Passion For Jiu-Jitsu

Dealing With People Who Criticize Your Passion For Jiu-Jitsu

Written by Jason Bright of Genesis Jiu-Jitsu

The Brazilian Jiu Jitsu journey is a long and painful one, there are extreme peaks and equally low valleys that will be experienced along the way. The plateaus seem to last forever while the gains only seem to last for moments. These factors are bad enough on their own; however, toss into the mix outside factors, haters, and you are sure to add to the frustration. Personally, the word, hater, to me, is overused. Instead I choose to use doubters. Doubters, at least in my mind, seems to encompass the very nature of what these individuals seek to accomplish, and how they truly feel.

Obviously, for jiu jitsu practitioners, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a main focus in life. Countless hours are spent throughout each week either training techniques, talking techniques, or watching techniques. Your Facebook feed is a cornucopia of jiu jitsu knowledge; saved links to Youtube videos and past matches that you have yet to watch and review, and with each day the cache grows. To you and your training partners, this is the norm, though. To onlookers, it borders on obsessive, an addiction almost. I often catch myself not completely opening up to co workers about weekend and after work plans that I have made because they all seem to circle back to jiu jitsu.

Flashbacks of Fight Club are commonplace in my head. Specifically, the conference room scene: when the narrator flashes his bloody teeth to the quintessential salesman during a mundane meeting, causing the salesman to retreat in horror, meanwhile, the narrator couldn’t be more entertained. I, maybe like you, feel like the narrator more often than not in my office setting. I can feel the looks when I walk into the lunchroom with fresh bruises, and the occasional black eye. A few people, whom I am friendly with, might ask what happened but, most say nothing, they just stare and wonder. For the few that do inquire though, the conversation, at some point, circles back to one question: “Why do you keep doing this?” If it stopped at the office it would be one thing but most often the biggest doubters are those who you are closest with.

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Answering this question may seem like an easy task but, for those of us who have, you are often met with confused looks and dumb remarks that further send you spiraling down a rabbit hole of stupidity. At the core of it, I feel, an honest answer should be reserved for those who might actually have a desire to understand you and not for those who merely want to push their ill informed opinions onto you. So, before answering the question think:

Will it make a difference if you take the time to explain to your co worker, yet again, that you do not train MMA but, Brazillian Jiu Jitsu and no, there are no kick or punches, just joint locks, chokes and takedowns.

Will the answer to the above question, finally pacify the upset spouse, as to justify the time spent away from home, for a “hobby”?

Will the neighbor, once hearing your answer, finally stop comparing his 12 year old, the Karate black belt, to you, the 30 year old, one stripe BJJ Blue Belt, who is optimistic that if he keeps it up in 8 years maybe, just may be, he will be able to cross over to the 1% and earn his black belt?


If you hesitate to answer “Yes” to these scenarios, then I suggest you dumb down your answers. Smile at the ignorant co worker and let them know you are just happy to be able to train and accidents happen, bribe the spouse with money to go shopping when you are out training so you both get something out of the exchange, and run over the 12 year olds bike, seriously, what’s he gonna do, beat you up? (Im kidding, don’t do that) The truth is, doubters will never understand the truth because they are insecure with the decisions they have made up until this point and they are fearful of the ones they will have to make in the future. So, don’t waste the effort. Just like in training, learn the right times to use the right techniques.

Simply put, it is as if we, the bjj junkies of the world, on some level, know the cheat code to life. Each and every time you slap hands, you are faced with the reality that someone is going to conquer the other. Granted, there will be close matches and even a tie or two along the way, but each party involved understands that someone bested the other. When the timer sounds all bets are off and the only thing that is expected is to stay focused on the task at hand and improve, aways improve. Explaining this to a doubter is an uphill battle and will most often leave you, with your passion for the art and black eyes, looking like the aggressor.




Conversely, if you feel that the doubter is honestly interested in what you find beneficial in jiu jitsu, indulge them. Breakdown how this art makes you feel, the bond that you have formed with training partners, and the joy you have from overcoming difficult situations. But, most importantly, ask them to join you so that they too can reap the rewards.

If the biggest doubter in your life is your spouse, I cannot stress the importance of having an honest dialogue about the short term and long term goals you have for jiu jitsu. Too many people have allowed poor communication with their spouse ruin their jiu jitsu journey. Negotiate, compromise, but don’t quit.

Remember that doubters exist in every area of our lives and it is only when we allow them full access that they can cause real harm. Be mindful of who you grant entry into your personal life because negativity, when unchecked, is able to destroy just about anything.