Newbie Osmosis Knowledge and Differentiating Oneself in BJJ

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When I first started taking no-gi BJJ in 2004 there was a good amount of interest in BJJ among the general population. And it seems in each year that passes the interest among the Gen Pop continues to grow. I noticed in each academy that I have trained the numbers continue to grow. Where I train, Combat Athletix, the numbers are ridiculous (in a good way), as no gi classes at night can regularly have 20 attendees and gi about 15 to 20. In the morning classes, for BJJ, it usually ranges from 6 to 10 people.  These numbers don’t include the Boxing, MMA, Kickboxing, Karate or Kid’s BJJ classes.

So what does this mean for those who are trying to get better at BJJ, especially if they are trying to improve quickly? More people means better athletes. People are stronger, faster, more flexible and know more of the rudiments due to visual osmosis. Further, they train a little harder to gain an advantage due to the attributes I just mentioned above.  

I remember when I first started to take no-gi BJJ, I trained three times a week for seven months straight with no breaks. I was able to tap newer guys ‘left and right’ after about four months. Each time I took a break and came back I noticed that it became more and more difficult to be a tapping superhero.

Now when I grapple with new or newer guys, I have to watch out for foot locks, some weird move they’ve learned from the internet and have to deal with a new level of physicality I’ve never experienced before. Their defense game, coming in, seems to be higher. I can usually maintain positional dominance but my tap average is down from the past.

I have been thinking about a way of mentioning this on this blog until last night. I read, listen and write a lot of self-improvement material and I was listening to Brian Tracey talk about the idea of gaining economic success by being in the top 10% of your field.  It made me think about BJJ.  He discussed how in the beginning of any endeavor you have to work harder, longer and smarter than most because your competition is doing the same. But at some point, if you keep the faith, you will surpass the competition. Why? Most people don’t mind being average and some settle for mediocrity.  A lot of people settle for ‘good enough.” If you keep striving to improve in the same strong fashion as you begin you will begin to break ranks with the average crowd.

Two things I didn’t mention in my analysis of my own experience is that BJJ also has a high attrition rate. Anyone who has trained for at least four months knows that new people enter the art or sport all of the time. Some train for one day, a week, or a month and then you never see them again. Even in my own experience I have had to take periods of time off. But the difference for me is that it is in my blood. So I know I will always be involved and that I will last (and have lasted) through the initial periods of having to deal with extra athleticism, newbie osmosis knowledge and higher levels of talent in general until I am good enough to overcome all of these things pretty easily (in the grappling sense).

Going  a little deeper, I don’t think I have ambitions to be a Masters Champion, but I wouldn’t mind being in the top 10% for my belt rank in my academy.  I think if I break down my ambitions into small chunks I could hit my goals quicker and more effectively.  What are my fellow trainees doing, better yet, what are they not doing? If I am willing to do more than they do and what they refuse to do I’ll hit my mark. I will have to ask myself what does it take to surpass my peer group. Then commit to making it happen.

Once I achieve it, then I can set a new goal and repeat.


[No disrespect was intended with this post.]



6 thoughts on “Newbie Osmosis Knowledge and Differentiating Oneself in BJJ

    teddy said:
    December 20, 2008 at 7:22 pm

    Awesome post. I think the days of “joe average” might be over in the BJJ world. When I was at Grapplers Quest last week I saw Johnny Hendricks win the advanced no-gi open weight. He’s an accomplished wrestler with very little submission grappling experience by all accounts, but he went through a lot of awesome grapplers. The level of athleticism was remarkable. I think the new breed of BJJ hero might be more like Andres Galvao than Royce Gracie.

    Mike said:
    December 20, 2008 at 8:42 pm

    You mentioned about being a Master Champion. Do you mean the Master’s division? If so, how old are you? I’m 35 and just getting started in BJJ. Have have a strong martial arts background with Marine Corps combatives and a 2nd degree black belt in Tang Soo Do (Soo Bahk Do).

    I’m pretty stoked to continue working on my ground game.

    Jiujitsu365 said:
    December 20, 2008 at 11:03 pm

    Thanks Teddy (a.k.a. crosschoke),

    I think you are right. I’ve noticed the uptick in wrestlers as well. After being tapped out a few times for overagressiveness, etc., they usually pick up the game pretty quick. The ones I have rolled with have incredible core strength regardless of size.

    Jiujitsu365 said:
    December 20, 2008 at 11:07 pm


    I just turned 35 last month.

    I’ll tell you something. I know your were in the Marines but when I found out about the Army Combatives program I was jealous. I served in the Army from ’93 to ’95 and all we did was the basic punch, jab and over the hip ‘judo throws” with foot stomps.

    Conan said:
    December 21, 2008 at 4:25 pm

    Very nice post. It was like you were singing my song. At age 45, I really don’t feel like I have the luxury of strolling along with my training. Almost from the beginning, I’ve been driven to train and learn as much as I can. The good news is that the payoff is tangible. Athleticism will always be important, but knowledge and technique still prevail. What my students refer to as “old man strength” is really “old man smarts.”

    jiujitsu365 said:
    December 21, 2008 at 6:19 pm

    Thanks Conan,

    I agree, ‘knowledge and technique” is still the great equalizer.

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