BJJ. It’s Like Pizza.
by Mark Sasser
Spending 20 years as a high level athlete in a different sport before picking up Jiu Jitsu (at the age of 45) gave me plenty of time to learn the ins and outs of being competitive, and how to be better at something today than I was yesterday. This completely went out the window when I started BJJ and was being tapped out by practically everyone at my academy. I had little choice but to look for a mentor to help me make sense of this human chess game that we call Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
My first private lesson was with one of the team purple belts. He hearkened me back to all of the coaches I’d ever had and how they made my previous sports make sense. Those were American sports though, not the hard-nosed Brazilian Jiu Jitsu I was now attempting to learn. I was told that BJJ makes you the hammer sometimes, and the nail other times. I was told that witnessing this personally for yourself can be both shocking, and amusing.
Now let’s fast-forward to later that day. I’m suited up in my new Gi and I’m waiting on the mat for my one on one. The first thing I can remember hearing is,
“You like pizza, right?”
“Well yeah, I like pizza, but what does that have to do with anything that we are doing here?”
“Jiu Jitsu is just like pizza. I know you like pizza, so let’s get cooking!”
At this point I’m pretty sure my “BJJ pizza chef” has spent a little too much time in a triangle choke. However I wasn’t going to bail until I figured out this BJJ/pizza analogy (because I truly do like pizza). So with a raised eyebrow I gave my signature, “oh yeah”.
“BJJ”, he tells me, “is as simple as learning the elements of your favorite pizza. You have your basics which is the crust, defense the sauce, cardio is the cheese; and without all three you are left with something unsavory.” At this point he had my full attention. He rolled into the details of the toppings and how each and every move is just an ingredient. You can pick and choose which ones work to your taste an how much of each you want to put onto your pizza. But, you first had to have all of the ingredients in the fridge, and the crust has to be perfect.
Now when I train it’s a thick crust with traditional sauce, heavy cheese with some collar chokes, a mouse trap and an side of arm bars.
Just don’t expect delivery in 30 mins or less.