The whole Alpha Team were rolling the other day at Team Quest (our favourite BJJ gym in Chiang Mai) when we encountered two rather good grapplers. We only found out later that one of them was ranked number 15 in the world UFC Bantamweight division. He was an absolute gent (as most pros tend to be) and one gets the impression he was only playing with us (of course). Still it’s good to mix it up a little bit with professional fighters occasionally. It’s a good learning experience for the guys.
It got me thinking. BJJ is one of those sports where this kind of thing happens quite often. If your favourite sport was football (soccer). What are the chances of finding yourself having a little kickaround with Ronaldo? Not very high. Perhaps you like Tennis. Ever smashed out a couple of sets with Roger Federer or his ilk? No, didn’t think so.
THE ETHOS OF THE SPORT
This type of ‘mucking in with the ordinaries’ is much more common in martial arts. But again, doesn’t happen in Boxing (for a bloody good reason as it happens). No, it happens mostly in the grappling arts like Judo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. This is partly traditional.
It’s just part of the ethos of the sport that pros and experts are quite likely to sometimes attend classes run by teachers who are not necessarily better than them, or classes where kids are also rolling on the other side of the room. Mixed genders. Different age groups and so on. Because BJJ and other grappling sports can be calibrated in terms of how much force is applied (e.g. up to and no further than the limits of the weaker practitioner) it makes them the ideal forum for a wide mix of different types and different abilities.
It’s not unlike recovery support groups where the old mix with the young, and where people who are recently clean get to meet people with multiple years of experience. Ultimately we meet numerous people who we would never meet in the outside world. This is what is great about both BJJ and recovery.