Men’s Journal recently did a cool, in-depth interview with the amazing Jocko Willink on exactly WHY he trains BJJ, check him out on the inter-webs, he’s a cool dude. Enjoy and learn all you can. Because trust me, there’s a lot to learn from this guy.
Can you speak more on that first experience you had with Jiu Jitsu?
That SEAL master chief had actually trained with the legendary Gracies in their original gym in Torrance, California. He was probably in his forties and a high-level white belt, which at the time meant that he could beat anybody, because nobody knew anything about it. He took us and taught us a few of the basic moves including the rear naked choke, the armbar, the guard, and the mount. It was probably 10 moves in total that he was using, and that is all it took for him to destroy us like we were children. Mixed martial arts in general were pretty hidden from the general public. People were still paying to go to a traditional dojo to meditate and hit boards that weren’t hitting back.
When did you end up furthering that initial training?
One of my friends, Jeff Higgs, another Navy SEAL, found a gym in San Diego and started training for real. He showed up at my house after three years of training and asked if I wanted to spar. He submitted me a billion times or so. Right after that I went down to that gym, signed up for classes, and started going two or three times a day. I have been doing that for the last 25 years.
What kinds of people do you see at your gym?
I see kids who are five years old, one guy who just started and he’s 72 years old. I have a son, and he has been training almost from birth. He’s a big 14-year-old, so we can get at it.
How did practicing Jiu Jitsu add to your life?
Jiu Jitsu is a great workout both mentally and physically. You want to be strong for it and flexible for it. You want to have explosive energy and you want to have endurance. So it’s a very good all-around physical conditioning tool. Jiu Jitsu is probably the No. 1 activity that I could recommend to someone to improve their lives overall.
I can imagine that being in combat, your ability to hold your own in all kinds of engagements is a consideration?
It doesn’t hurt that it is a physical skill that I’d imagine that everyone would want to have. It’s another method in which to defend yourself, if absolutely necessary. Who wants to leave the door open to being dominated physically by another human being? Jiu Jitsu gives you the ability to not be dominated by that person, and to me that’s real peace of mind. I don’t have to worry about that when I’m walking around in the world. You know that you are able to handle yourself.