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Posted on April 20, 2022
If you’re new to Jiu Jitsu but already smitten with the art, there is a good chance you’ve already encouraged your close, non-BJJ training friends to join up.
As the saying goes, there is no one more zealous than the recently converted – and this certainly holds true for BJJ in many cases.
Despite your enthusiasm for BJJ, I firmly believe there is a thoughtful approach you should apply when trying to get your friends to train BJJ.
In this article, I break down what I see as the common ways to get your friends into BJJ, and a few pitfalls and methods to avoid in order to maximize your chances of recruiting your friends into the epic world of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
Let’s do this!
You often hear people say, “anyone can learn Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.”
This statement is often confused with the notion that virtually everyone would love BJJ if they would just try it.
However, I personally do not think this is the case. In fact, I tend to see a like for Jiu Jitsu as a binary situation.
Someone will either ‘get it’ or they won’t.
If you’re friends or acquaintance does not appreciate the utility of the skill of BJJ or does not like being in close contact with sweaty strangers, there is probably little you can do to get them into BJJ.
On the flipside, many people intuitively see the appeal of training an effective martial art such as BJJ, and want the fitness benefits or enjoy the activity in itself.
You will likely have more success with this type of individual in terms of getting them to start BJJ.
However, even with that, getting good at BJJ requires long term commitment to the art, including carving out multiple days per week.
Even for someone who enjoys BJJ, committing to training even once per week is a tall ask for an otherwise busy person.
Think about it, many people enjoy various active activities like hiking, but that really means they go once or twice per month.
When it comes to BJJ, that won’t cut it for improving, which essentially means they will show up and get demolished by even a 3 month white belt. This makes it unlikely that they will continue.
So, if you really plan to get someone into BJJ, they must first have the interest, and second of all have the time and inclination to show up consistently.
If you know your friends well-enough, you can probably predict which ones are likely prospects for BJJ.
Once you have identified a BJJ-prospect friend, you should encourage them to come to a beginner class or all-levels class at your gym.
Ideally, introduce them to the most beginner-friendly class and coaches at your gym.
For average individuals starting BJJ, it’s probably best you don’t put your friend through the BJJ wringer as you try to convince them to begin BJJ.
One caveat is that if your friend has experience in another martial art, such as wrestling, they may need to get submitted a few times to understand the effectiveness of BJJ.
If you are not skilled enough to submit your friend with experience, I recommend having them roll with a good upper belt.
For example, a great college wrestler can probably give the average blue belt a run for their money, so to really “prove” the effectiveness to them, they should get ran-around by a more experienced BJJ artist.
You must understand that these different backgrounds will affect whether someone will be more convinced by getting demolished by a smaller weaker opponent or be more convinced that they will be welcomed in the gym, and no one wants to hurt them.
Hopefully, you know your friends well enough to decide which of the above categories they fall under.
For some people, the thought of going to a Jiu Jitsu academy and potentially paying a monthly membership for something they have a casual interest in might be overwhelming.
Enter the garage training session.
A garage training session is essentially any training session where someone rolls out a few BJJ home mats in the garage, back yard, or living room and has some friends over for casual rolling or drilling.
This is a good chance to get your friends to meet up, show them a few moves, perhaps tap them out a few times, and give them a taste of what BJJ has to offer without having to psyche them up to get to an actual practice.
In fact, I have seen many “garage dojo converts” who started training casually with a more experienced friend and ultimately got bit by the BJJ bug and ended up officially joining a gym.
There is a fine line between encouraging your friends to join in BJJ and becoming the nagging friend who won’t shut up about your newfound hobby that nobody else in your friend group cares about.
In fact, this can be a quick way to suddenly stop receiving invites to parties and events from your non-BJJ friends.
After your initial BJJ discussions, I would lay off continuing to actively pester your friends to join BJJ.
Instead, make sure you yourself stay committed.
Over time, if it was meant to be that a given friend of yours ends up joining BJJ despite early refusals, then your best bet is having them see you develop and grow as a martial artist over time to actually demonstrate the long term benefits and results of committed BJJ training.
For example, seeing you win a competition, perhaps successfully defend yourself in a fight, or simply watching you lose weight and get in better shape are all longer term, indirect encouragements that can help convince your friends into starting BJJ without getting kicked out of your friend group.
Despite what many practitioners may claim, BJJ is not for everyone.
Although anyone can improve their grappling, many individuals simply do not see the value in developing that skillset.
Alternatively, they may simply want to avoid the sweaty discomfort associated with BJJ even if in theory they see the benefits of training.
Regardless, for friends that do have active interest in starting BJJ, gentle encouragement and bringing them to the beginner class is the best way to get them started training – experienced wrestlers notwithstanding.
If early encouragement fails, your own long term commitment and development in BJJ will end up being the best selling point towards convincing your friends to do BJJ.
If they still do not get into BJJ despite all these different types of encouragement, then it probably was never meant to be.
Regardless, embrace your own training, enjoy the ride, and perhaps at least a few of your non-BJJ friends will end up seeing the light.
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