BJJ: Is natural talent required, or just practice?

Discussion in 'Grappling Technique' started by cheath, Apr 17, 2008.

  1. cheath

    cheath Blue Belt

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    As with most new people (2 months) I've been getting a little frustrated lately that I'm slow to catch on. The only sports I've ever played I've really excelled at, so I'm not used getting it handed to me. That got me thinking so I decided to approach the frustration and "will I ever move to a blue belt" questions from a different angle than the other threads thus far.

    Do you need any natural talent to excel in BJJ, or is it just a matter of mat time? For example, someone could practice basketball a few hours a week doing drills, doing pick up games, but they could still suck really bad after as much as a few years just because they have no natural talent for the sport. My view is that many sports are like that, and with my view that BJJ is also a sport, I was just wondering if it follows suit?

    So what do you think, do you have to have a natural inclination or natural talent for BJJ to get any good, or do you just have to practice? Thanks in advance.
     
  2. armtriangle

    armtriangle Brown Belt

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    with practice almost anyone can become proficient (good enough to tool thier friends).

    some measure of talent is needed to become "good" though.

    but anyone can rise to blue belt level. if you have any measure of athletic ability at all, that is all you need, plus mat time. all the best bjj players i have known- black and brown belts- had no special ability, just perseverence. some learn faster than others, of course.

    IME it takes athletic people a little longer to get good at jiu jitsu, because they have to learn to rely on technique, rather than physical attributes.
     
  3. DaRuckus337

    DaRuckus337 Black Belt

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    It's a sport like any other. Excelling is 1 part work ethic 1 part natural ability. You cannot truly excel if you lack either, but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy yourself and become very proficient.
     
  4. TallguyBJJ

    TallguyBJJ White Belt

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    having natural talent at anything is fine and dandy but if you don't put in the time you still won't be all that good. I feel the same way now and again that I'm not improving for a while then something clicks and i understand a position a little better or a sub. Just stick it out, the first few months were frustrating for a lot of people.
     
  5. BrokBakJiuJitsu

    BrokBakJiuJitsu Blue Belt

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    with anything in life you do it long enough you'll get better, at least you should, unless your a complete douch and make the same mistakes over and over. You won't be a Mundial champ without talent though. I remember I wanted to play for the NBA, I practiced everyday. I realized my dream was over after Jr High cause I was short and uncoordinated. no talent
     
  6. Afrofeet

    Afrofeet Green Belt

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    You say that guys who are athletic are inferior to guys who are not athletic when it comes to bjj??!? :rolleyes:
     
  7. no said it takes them longer to get good at bjj. they might be able to win in a match, but thier bjj skills often take longer to develop. IMO, if you rely on physical attributes, you ultimately hinder progress.

    seen it many times, including myself.
     
  8. armtriangle

    armtriangle Brown Belt

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  9. David_Jacobs

    David_Jacobs TheRockBJJ.com

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    As others have said, it is like any other sport and it takes both talent and practice to excel.

    In my 10 years of BJJ, I've seen people who are awesome at other sports/very good athletes have difficulty with BJJ in the beginning. Others who have been awesome at sports/great athletes have picked it up quickly.

    On the other hand, I've seen people who were never any good at other sports pick up BJJ quickly AND seen some people who have just as much trouble with BJJ that they had with other sports.

    In summary, it's impossible (in my experience) to make generalizations about who will or won't be good at BJJ based on pure athletic talent.

    You never know who will shine.

    Of course, almost everyone (except for some judokas) has a tough time with BJJ the first few months. It can be frustrating - especially if you are used to dominating in other sports. However, beware of falling into the negative trap of blaming genetics/talent/etc. for not progressing as quickly as you want. That kind of attitude will ensure that your progress remains slow. Don't make excuses. Just get on the mat as much as possible.
     
  10. Jimmy Cerra

    Jimmy Cerra Amateur Fighter

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    I will never believe that you need genetics or natural talent as an absolute requirement. I believe that they do give a head start or make it easier. But with enough hard work, anyone can achieve great things.
     
  11. Mr. Switch

    Mr. Switch TALLY HO!

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    ^^^^
    Or to rephrase the above:
    'If the path is set in stone... use a sledge-hammer.'

    :icon_chee:
     
  12. Mr. Switch

    Mr. Switch TALLY HO!

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    dbl pst sry
     
  13. Mr. Switch

    Mr. Switch TALLY HO!

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    double post, sry...
     
  14. blanko

    blanko Guest

    of all combat sports including wrestling, judo, boxing, kickboxing, ect.. BJJ requires the least amount of "atheletic ability"./
     
  15. SFinclined

    SFinclined Purple Belt

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    Double
     
  16. SFinclined

    SFinclined Purple Belt

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    Natural talent always helps. What I think is more important is having the ability to understand what you see, or are told. I can watch a video a couple of times and generally get a decent idea of how to do a technique, all I have to do then is go drill it a bunch and work out any minor details I might have missed. Then there are some people that just don't understand. I remember trying to teach a guy how to pass guard, and I kept telling and showing him that he had to pin the leg with his foot or he will be caught in half guard but he just couldn't understand.
     
  17. Zankou

    Zankou Bringing peace and love Staff Member Senior Moderator

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    Exactly. BJJ is pretty much the least dependent on natural talent, and the most rewarding for hard technical work, of any of the combat sports.

    The biggest problem I see in BJJ improvement is people simply do not work on technique ... instead they fall back on their natural fighting instincts. You can show them the right way to do something fifty times, and then ask them to do it, and they will INSIST on doing it the wrong way. It's amazing. People who are strong and athletic are often the worst ... I was very much guilty of this sin when I started out, and was constantly reprimanded for mindlessly fighting instead of training. Now ... I sort of get it more.
     
  18. BenWS

    BenWS Orange Belt

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    Anyone can get good at bjj imo, all it takes is good teaching,the ability to learn and drive to succeed. Look at any competition you will see people of all sizes/athletic ability doing well. Bjj isn't like basketball where you need certain genetic traits to be great.

    I think natural talent helps alot at the begining because it gives you that mental boast/conficence initially, where as people who arn't naturals are always second guessing themselves will i ever be good etc, which can lead them into quitting. Learning sports is alot about confidence in what you do, i remember hearing that alot of professional sport players were generally big kids. This normaly gave them that positive reinforcement when they started sports young because the size advantage let them generally do better, where as smaller kids who never did well at the beginning quit.

    I think at the end of the day naturals might make it to a higher level fast, people who have the will to suceed can make it aswell but it will take abit longer. If the natural doesn't have the will power he will quit at the first hurdle, and the non-natural will overtake them.

    The mental game is the most important. Marcelo garcia will tell you himself that he wasn't a natural but he worked extremly hard to get where he is now.

    Other examples i can think of people who arn't athletic at all and weren't good initially but are now top bjj players would be felipe costa.

    Also look at the gracies, they are great bjj practioners. They arn't what i would call athletic freaks and they arn't all naturals.
     
  19. Tony Manifold

    Tony Manifold Brown Belt

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    This happens all the time. Fighting is kind of counter-intuitive. It is like trying to get someone to understand the way to avoid getting punched is to step forward not away.

    The other thing that I see (in the mirror sometimes) is that people who have backgrounds in other sports (especially combat sports) sometimes have a hard time understanding that things are different. Two examples:
    The first is my self, I started as a wrestler and judo player then I moved into MMA. Because of that my guard was focused on stalling, or pushing off and scrambling. I had some good guard techniques but I typically only used them against weaker opponents. Against people who push me I revert to create space and scramble. Over the last couple of weeks, I have really tried to focus on doing things the "bjj way" even if I fail at it. You have to get over the idea of "winning" doing practice and actually practice while rolling.

    The second is an elite level athlete. I went to a coaching course put on by the National Coaching association. The instructor was a coach to world champion paralympic athletes. One of his atheltes was a world class cyclist before his accident and is now an wheelchair marathoner. He said one of the hardest aspects of training this guy was that he new how to be an elite athelete. He had to get him to understand that the ideas and methods that worked for one sport didn't work for another. Imagine what the results would be of an elite BJJ player pulling guard at the Wrestling Nationals or a wrestler twisting to his belly as he is taken down at the Mundials?
     
  20. jaymitchnj

    jaymitchnj I

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    Most sports you are not judged by your sole performance. There are no teammates to pick up for your slack, so its obvious when things need to improve in your game.

    With that said, practice practice practice. BJJ is mainly muscle memory.
     

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