So you want to be a BJJ Fighter?
by Kristian Woodmansee
So you want to be a BJJ Fighter? Let me guess. You wish that you could live the Jiu Jitsu lifestyle? You want to train all day, maybe teach a class or two, and compete, and have all of it support you financially. You see guys like Buchecha and Cyborg and want what they have, the best life you could imagine! But how? Many Jiu Jitsu practitioners want nothing more than to get paid to train and compete. However there is a side to this lifestyle that you might not be so familiar with, and it could very well change your mind.
(Photo Courtesy of Mike Calimbas Photography)
There is a reason why only 3% of all students reach the level of black belt. Now imagine how many of those are able to call him or herself a world champion. It takes a particular mindset to hit that kind of level of success in any subject, but all of these athletes have something in common that can’t be bought or acquired. Now you don’t have to be a world champion to turn Jiu Jitsu into a career, but you do have to have the same attributes that it takes to become one. Fail does not exist in the dictionary of success. Hard work and persistence will always pay off. I can promise you that. The problem that remains is that day in and day out, there are many life situations that will either make you, or break you.
The weak minded tend to be easily discouraged.
I won’t lie, there were plenty of times I questioned everything, including myself! I am sure that’s only natural. You will always hear that Jiu Jitsu is a “hills and valleys” type of journey, but no one told me how those hills and valleys would make me feel. That was the hardest thing to deal with. That in itself can be incredibly discouraging and I have witnessed its effect on people. A decent amount of people quit Jiu Jitsu all together.
The struggle exists. The manner of which, is unique to its owner. Some will starve because they can’t afford to eat and compete at an upcoming tournament. Some will lose their most valued relationships in exchange for pursuing their dream. Some will go to multiple tournaments and lose every match, but not continue to put it on the line day in and day out. Some are in their room watching BJJ videos and taking notes, while everyone else is out drinking having a good time. Try going out with a bunch of friends to a restaurant, on a special occasion, and everyone is stuffing themselves with unhealthy food and you have to stay true to your diet in order to make weight for a competition.
Now here is the kicker. None of this is difficult, if it is what you want. This is a job. You have to treat it like one and if you want to be successful, then nothing will get in your way. I promise you this, I have never drank a beer, tasted a piece of food, had a night out with friends, or slept in late and missed a training session, that felt more rewarding then actual success, but that’s just me.
Let me get to the point of all this, and I know this may be cliché, but I feel that a quote here will make more sense then my own words. “Don’t ever let somebody tell you, you can’t do something. Not even me, alright? You got a dream, you gotta protect it. People can’t do something themselves, they wanna tell you that you can’t do it. You want something, go get it. Period.” – Will Smith in the Pursuit of Happiness. If this is what you want then nothing and no one can get in between you and it. Actions express priorities, and if it is important to you, you will find a way. The only person that can stop you from accomplishing what you want, is you.
I am not rich financially, and I don’t have a nice car or expensive clothes, but I have acquired things that I am proud of; things that can only be acquired through hard work. I could not be happier with what I have, and not a single day goes by that I wish I were doing something else.
One day I will own my own academy, and have multiple instructional DVDs, and conduct huge seminar tours that I can support a family with. All the while loving every second of it! I never thought 6 years ago when I took my first BJJ class, that I would one day travel to Europe to compete and teach seminars, and my passion for Jiu Jitsu made that happen. I have met amazing people all over the world, and my passion for Jiu Jitsu also made that happen. In the end, all that you need is passion. Passion is the main ingredient for success.
“If you do something you love, you will never work a day in your life.”
Kristian Woodmansee is World, Pan American and European Champion. He is currently the #1 ranked No Gi Brown Belt in the World. You can reach him via Facebook.