Commonly referred to as the “gentle art,” Brazilian jiu-jitsu offers a host of life-improving
benefits, from better overall fitness to increased self-confidence and stronger mental health. But
perhaps the most powerful – and often unrecognized – impact of BJJ is the sense of community
felt by its practitioners.
Unlike other martial arts that might follow a strict, militaristic class format in which the instructor
barks commands at his underlings, many students find the jiu-jitsu academy to have a
welcoming, laid-back atmosphere.
It’s in this friendly setting that a tight-knit, inclusive and diverse community develops. By drawing
together folks from all walks of life, regardless of race or socio-economic status, jiu-jitsu
connects people that would not otherwise meet.
On the typical BJJ mat, you might find a high school principal and one of his students, a brain
surgeon alongside a roofer, or a college student alongside a busy mother, all sharing their
passion for jiu-jitsu.
BJJ is an equalizer. Differences that might keep us apart outside of the gym are erased inside of
it. No matter each person’s unique background, students of jiu-jitsu can find connection – and
therefore a sense of belonging – in their shared interest.
Taking that a step further, BJJ students also develop respect for each other that transcends
individual differences. Jiu-jitsu is challenging both mentally and physically, and seeing another
person face (and overcome) those challenges just like you can be an incredibly connecting
experience. The high school student gains respect for the principal, just as the brain surgeon
respects the roofer and vice versa.
Ultimately, jiu-jitsu creates a sense of community by fostering genuine person-to-person
connnections. Countless life-long friendships have been forged on the jiu-jitsu mats, bringing
together people from varying backgrounds over a shared love of BJJ.
Those friendships are strengthened on the mats. Rather than cultivate a mood of competition,
jiu-jitsu aims to promote togetherness. Instead of trying to “beat” each other, jiu-jitsu
practitioners offer support, always looking to help a fellow grappler on his or her journey.
As any longtime jiujitero will report, BJJ’s most important gifts are genuine friendships,
connections made over shared goals and struggles.