Your BJJ Identity

Finding and developing your style of Jiu-Jitsu without neglecting other styles that can complement your own

Location: Sherwood Park, Alberta Canada

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

What is a style? Quite simply, it is a way of doing something. Often it is distinctive and determined by what something is designed to do.

For example, think of boxing, wrestling, and jiu-jitsu. One style focuses on stand-up fighting, one on takedowns, and the last primarily grappling and groundwork. Three different martial arts and forms of self-defense, three different styles. Pretty simple right? Sure it is. But can you have a specific style inside of a generic style? Yes, especially in jiu-jitsu! So let’s break that down.

Think about your training partners and others in your gym. Think about your instructor. Think about competitors you have seen live or online. What are they known for? What are they good at? Terrifying takedowns? A crushing top game? A spiderweb of a guard?

If someone is really good at something, chances are they have learned, applied, and modified it to work well for them. The great thing about BJJ is that, for the most part, anyone can learn and become proficient in any style they want. 

So what’s the first step in finding your style?  

Learn the fundamentals. Having an understanding of basic concepts and positions will create a good base for more complicated techniques. After all, it’s hard to have a good de la riva guard if you don’t know anything about closed or half guard.

Next, take advantage of the internet. Instructionals, documentaries, matches, techniques, and everything in between can be found if you look. Leave your ego at the door and try new techniques in drilling and live training. Make lots of mistakes and learn from them. Also, remember that you can learn something from anybody.

Something often overlooked is yourself as a practitioner in a physical sense. If you watch videos of the best in the world, you will notice a lot of their style depends on them physically. As said before, anyone can learn any style, but realistically, your physical abilities do impact that style’s efficiency.

Shorter, stockier athletes are generally better at takedowns, pressure passing, and guards such as the butterfly. Whereas taller, lengthier athletes seem to have an edge with guard pulling and more complex guards. 

Not to mention if you aren’t flexible; trying to replicate a 10th Planet style of jiu-jitsu probably isn’t going to work the greatest compared to other forms. 

In saying that, just because you don’t have the ideal body type for a particular position doesn’t mean you neglect it. Just be aware that your body type does make a difference. Only through trial and error will you find one that works well for you.

So what does all this mean? 

Learn the basics, use your body type to your advantage, learn as much as you can from different resources, leave your ego at the door and make mistakes you can learn from. And as cheesy as it sounds, have FUN! Without truly enjoying yourself, you will never be able to allow yourself to find and create your jiu-jitsu identity!

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