After all these years training Jiujitsu, I still can't figure out why some immediately fall in love and are hooked for life, while others want absolutely nothing to do with these sweaty people rolling around on the ground.
But I do know that in my case, if I had to narrow the source of my interest for Jiujitsu down to a single factor, it would probably be none other than El Guapo, a.k.a. Bas Rutten.
Getting My (Taekwondo) Black Belt
But let's start from the beginning. Like many others, I didn't start off my martial arts journey with Jiujitsu.
Instead, I trained Taekwondo diligently for four years, achieving a black belt in the process (which, it turns out, means a whole lot less than achieving the same in BJJ!).
But after these four long years, I finally figured out that Taekwondo might not be the best fit for someone with the flexibility of a wooden board, and decided to quit.
Aikido, Ninjutsu, And More…
So I went looking for something else. I tried Aikido, Ninjutsu, and a variety of esoteric Chinese arts whose main selling points were being named after cool-sounding animals.
And this finally brings us to Mr Rutten. One way or another, I happened to stumble upon some old instructionals of his online, and that was my first exposure to submission wrestling.
Compared to the somewhat basic concepts of Taekwondo (straight punches and roundhouse kicks tend to get old right around the 500th repetition), submission wrestling seemed a lot richer: there were countless ways to take your opponent down, control them on the ground, and twist their body until they tapped out.
I quickly became fascinated, and started watching every instructional I could find. Pretty soon, I had a video collection spanning dozens of DVDs, featuring every art from Catch-As-Catch-Can, to Sambo, to Namibian Pit Wrestling (OK I made that last one up, but you have to admit it sounds pretty intriguing!).
The DVD Trap
You can see where this is going: I fell into the common trap of thinking that knowing more techniques was the path to getting better.
Of course, as the wise man once said: “don't fear the fighter who practices a thousand techniques one time each. Fear the fighter who practices a single technique a thousand times”. Or something like that.
But don't worry, our story has a happy ending: I ended up joining a proper gym, training seriously, and these days my DVD collection is gathering dust somewhere in my parent's attic.
Yet my love of techniques never quite left me. Even now, I still love discovering a new way to set up the Brabo choke, a new crucial detail on how to take the back, or a funky new leglock that you can't wait to try out on your poor, unsuspecting training partners.
Signal VS Noise
But I now approach things differently, focusing more on quality, and less on quantity.
In other words, that funky new leglock is a ton of fun to play with, but if you really want to step your game up then go watch Lucas Leite perfectly demonstrating the simplest half guard sweep ever instead.
Which brings me to BJJBot. It's a technique database, and I built it to help separate the signal from the noise and find the videos that are right for you.
Getting stuck in lasso? Then go check out the passing the spider guard & lasso category.
Want to get better at armbars? There's a category for that, too!
Thinking back on my DVD collection, the problem wasn't that I had too many techniques. It was that I didn't have any way to sort or filter them, and make sense of all that information.
Hopefully, BJJBot can become just that!