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While most people consider BJJ an individual sports it is important to recognize the team aspects.  Growing up I was never drawn to team sports, or any physical activity for that matter.  The most cardio I did in those days was opening a bag of Cheetos while playing Dungeons and Dragons.  I discovered the appeal of physical fitness my senior year in high school.  I began by running and lifting weights at the gym.  While they did the job of helping me lose weight and leaning out they were incredibly boring.  A few years later a good friend introduced me to Martial Arts via Tae Kwon Do.  I loved it and became obsessed.  I spent hours perfecting my strikes and forms during class and at home.  I loved the aspect of being able to set the pace of my growth and development.  This was the moment I realized my attraction to individualized sports.  Next, I moved to rock climbing.  Again, I loved the ability to control my progress.  I could do workouts at home that would directly improve my climbing at the gym.  After a few years climbing my friend encouraged me to try BJJ at a school near me.  I was immediately interested because it was and individual sport…so I thought.

            This brings me to the question, is BJJ an individual sport?  The short answer is no.  While, yes, there are some drills and exercises you can do on your own and you compete on your own, the majority of your progress is dependent on your training with others.  The minor aspect of this is when drilling a move in class.  Repetition and developing muscle memory play a part in developing proficiency in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.  Most of your progress comes from training live and this is where the team element enters.  As you progress in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, you will find that when you train with students at a lower level than you, you are able to refine techniques that you are learning.  When you are training against students at a higher level than you, you are practicing your defense and escapes. Essentially, the quality of your progress is partially dependent on the quality of your training partners. 

            I think this is why most people in BJJ tend to be very eager to help lower level student.  I often encourage my students to teach their opponents how to beat them.  This avoids complacency in using the techniques that make up your game.  If you teach a person how to defend the things that you do well it forces you to either improve the technique or learn something new.  While BJJ seems like an individual sport, you will soon realize the importance of working as a team in order to insure yours and everyone else’s improvement. 

Alex Kennedy

Gael Force BJJ

Flanders NJ