How do you view Jiu-jitsu?

If you wanna be a blue belt, make Jiu-jitsu your hobby.

If you wanna be a black belt, make Jiu-jitsu your life.


If you wanna be a blue belt, make Jiu-jitsu your life.

If you wanna be a black belt, make Jiu-jitsu your hobby.

What path are you on?

What do you feel will keep you on the mat for life? 


About KeepItPlayful

I keep it playful for a living.
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79 Responses to How do you view Jiu-jitsu?

  1. “If you wanna be a blue belt, make Jiu-jitsu your life.

    If you wanna be a black belt, make Jiu-jitsu you hobby.”

    I believe this is the right path. When I began practicing Jiu jitsu I have experienced withdrawal after not training for a week that I almost hurt my partner when I finally trained again due to the accumulated frustration. I realized this is not good because I learn jiu jitsu to increase and protect my life not the other way around. I noticed that I was having unreasonable expectations in myself and decided that I should have the mindset of a black belt even if I am a blue belt. With that the withdrawal symptoms had vanished.

    These are a few points I think what is a black belt and feel free to correct me:

    1.) A black belt doesn’t worry about his skills fading if he misses training because he knows himself and doesn’t need to prove anything.

    2.) A black belt knows how to avoid unnecessarily harming himself so when he trains, he does it slowly and safely because being too aggressive is a sign of ego problems which are childhood issues that we haven’t out grown that if applied on the mat, can lead to injury. Getting injured sucks.

    3.) A black belt is a scientist he doesn’t torture himself to “rush learning” new techniques. He perfects what he knows by drilling more and tries to discover the different variations of the same position thus making them more effective.

    4.) A black belt knows that everything secret about his life is revealed when he spars so he tries his best to improve every area of his life outside the mats because Jiu jitsu is supposed to increase your life, not a distraction to avoid reality or a garbage dump of your emotional baggages.

    • 5.) A black belt understands that Jiu Jitsu supposed to be a fun activity that gives you alot of benefits. It is not a chore or a job. If you treat it like a hobby, you dont just think of improving your skills, you also think of new ways to make it an enjoyable experience that way he doesn’t get burnt out.

    • you are on fire!!! thank you for sharing. I know you are speaking your opinion and I agree but it is not the right path. its just the path you choose. great comment.

      • Thank you!

        I understand what you mean with “it is not the right path, its just the path you choose”.

        It tells the same message like another version of it that I also believe in:
        “There really isn’t any right or wrong path. There are only consequences.”

        This way, we take responsibility of thinking for ourselves.

  2. slideyfoot says:

    I try not to worry too much about belts. I also try not to deify black belts: they’re just people, like everyone else. There are black belts who have incredible jiu jitsu and do great work for charity, give sage advice to their students and make the world a better place. There are also black belts who have incredible jiu jitsu, cheat on their wives and are convicted sex offenders.

    Jiu jitsu is not my life. I would be worried if it was: if jiu jitsu was the only thing in my life, then my life would be seriously out of balance. I make a point of having other interests (if I get injured or can’t train for some reason, there should be something else I can turn to), and I also make certain that my jiu jitsu does not get in the way of family.

    Obviously jiu jitsu is important to me, especially since I got my purple belt and started teaching early last year. Jiu jitsu is something I enjoy, otherwise I wouldn’t spend so much time babbling about it on the internet and writing for jiu jitsu magazines. But it is still a hobby, not my life.

  3. Jiu Jistu is a huge part of my lifestyle. It started as a hobby at first, then it felt like a job to me when I thought I HAD to compete in “sport jiu jitsu”to promote. Always rolling hard, never trying to lose, and getting injured frequently. Not much fun anymore. Once I left my ego at home, started playing around, and teaching classes. Then it became fun, and I had more motivation to train jiu-jitsu. Now I focus self defense, more on Helio Gracie type of jiu jitsu for street. All in all, jiiu jitsu has had the biggest impact on my life, so its for life. A Jiu Jitsu lifestyle is a GREAT lifestyle. I’m having a lot fun keeping it playful 🙂

  4. Jiu-Jitsu = The Gentle Art.
    Is it a way of life? Yes. it’s a Gentle way of life!
    If you give it time, Jiu-Jitsu will effect your whole life – in a very positive way! I’m talking from experience.
    Thanks for great thoughts!

  5. Make Jiu Jitsu you life, you hobby, your love, you way to understand life, your way to smile, your way to protect yourself… Thats the beauty of JIU JITSU it can be anything you want and need. No need for tags, just roll!

  6. Gustavo Carvalho Diniz says:

    I think you should play jiu jitsu without commitment to win as a hobby or like a game with friends in a beach party (football, etc.). The only commitment I made is to make it a lifestyle!! My son is 3 months old and I’ll introduce him to the Gracie games!! This way Jiu Jitsu will come naturally and fun and will not be imposed!! I’m a black belt under Ataide Junior (Jiu Jitsu Teacher of UFC fighters Paulo Thiago, Rani Yahya and Francisco “Massaranuba”) and the keep it playful mindset made my rolls much more “enjoyables”!! My Jiu Jitsu lineage is: Helio Gracie > Armando Wridt > Ataide Junior > Me!! Ask your Dad about Master Armando (Red Belt)!! He’s such an AMAZING person!!
    Grande abraço de Brasília-Brasil!!

  7. Omar Nicasio says:

    I think if u wanna be a black belt jiu jitsu should be something u always look foward to and can’t wait to practice again and again at the same time it should play an important part of your life but not take over it.

  8. John Carter says:

    What has and will keep me on the mat during my journey on this earth is this simple realization.
    – Martial Arts is the pursuit of personal perfection, realizing in advance it is an impossible task, but choosing to make the journey anyway.

  9. immykidsmom says:

    Hello Ryron, I don’t mean to be the complicated one in the group but can I pick neither? To me jiu jitsu is something that I started off hating, but fell in love with. Im a blue belt and for me jiu jitsu is more of a hobby but the jiu jitsu lifestyle is something I Implement into my life daily. I train twice a week because that’s all I can fit into my schedule but once again the lifestyle is something I use daily. As long as jiu jitsu stays fun ill keep training, the day it gets serious I won’t train anymore, for me it’s that simple. As far as a black belt goes I don’t really think about it. Lets be honest I’m just trying to make sure I understand the first stripe. I’m lucky enough to train at a CTC so everyone keeps it playful. In jitsu your constantly learning and that’s also what I love about it. I would like to say best of luck next Sunday myself and lot of others from Gracie Scottsdale will be in the crowd cheering you on!

  10. Craig says:

    This is a great question. As an “older” practitioner, I am beginning to feel age catching up with my body after hard workouts. The KIP mindset has really changed the “why” I train. I liken it to playing a musical instrument. If a person plays because they love music, they will probably keep playing forever. Will they be as good as someone who makes it their life? Maybe not. But they will certainly not get burnt out and quit with that mindset.

    At the same time, I can also see how the KIP mindset can be contrary to the mindset of a person who is interested in competing. Aside from the fortunate few who can train hard and age gracefully w/o their body protesting, mine makes it very clear to me when it needs to chill/recover. Like most, the older I get, the longer it takes to come back from any injury, and the longer that takes, the less time I have to enjoy rolling. So maybe another important question would be, “What are your goals in jiu-jitsu?” Because training to compete/win and training to ensure you enjoy rolling into your 80’s-90’s are two different mindsets, with the latter being what will keep most on the mat longer.

  11. David says:

    I want to be a student of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu for life and the belt is just something to help keep my pants up. As your Uncle Royce would say “the belt only covers two inches of you &$@,you have to cover the rest”.

  12. JRMoreau says:

    “If you wanna be a blue belt, make Jiu-jitsu your life.

    If you wanna be a black belt, make Jiu-jitsu you hobby.”

    It’s funny how there are a lot of question marks when I ask myself what I want out of life career-wise and even where in the world I want to live.. I continue to ask myself these questions and explore who I am, but since starting BJJ, one of the only things I am certain of is that I wish to be a black belt someday. Not just for my ego, but for everything that goal represents. True honed skill, thousands of hours of practice, a healthy body, a healthy mind, strong friendships, etc. It has truly become my North Star and I feel confident that I can keep it up for a very long time. There are no quick fixes or quantum leaps for me in BJJ, just a daily release of stress and an expression of myself that I can always improve.

  13. If you want to be a blue belt, make GJJ your hobby. If you want to be a black belt, you should do the same, along with living your life 100% by Gracie Philosophy.

  14. John Will once told me: “There are three levels of leverage: 1. you understand a technique in jiu jitsu and how it works. 2. you understand a technique in jiu jitsu and how you can make the same principle work in many other scenarios on the mat 3. you understand a technique in jiu jitsu and how you can make the principle behind it work in your marriage, relationships, work…etc.

    The belts are nice and all, but I’m in it for the wonderful effects it has on my life.

    Keep up the great (and playful) work.

  15. Anthony A. says:

    “If you wanna be a blue belt, make Jiu-jitsu your life.

    If you wanna be a black belt, make Jiu-jitsu you hobby.”

    The order of these statements of course, will vary depending on the individual. The above stands true in my case; I was not so busy with life and had the time to train 4-5 per week. Life soon became super-busy with work, family, and other activities, which left me the time to only train occasionally. It took me 13 months to earn my blue belt. Jiu-Jitsu in my case is a hobby; however, it is something I will do for the rest of my life. I take breaks here and there but always end up coming back. I am not in it for the belt; I am in it for the experience and personal satisfaction it gives me of going to class and seeing what I can and cannot do. I have been a blue belt for 5 years now and many of my teammates who started training after I did have surpassed me in rank and skill. Perhaps Jiu-Jitsu is their life. I am happy for their achievements as well as my own. As the saying goes, “it is a marathon and not a race.” I am enjoying the marathon and though my progression is slower than my teammates’, it is okay with me. No matter what happens, I will always come back for more Jiu-Jitsu. The benefits of studying Jiu-Jitsu far outweigh the color of the belt that I am wearing around my waist. I know that as long as I keep coming back, eventually the color of my belt will change. What is more important to me though, is the health benefits and mental stimulation I get from Jiu-Jitsu.

  16. Larry Boeshart says:

    What an awesome concept! I started training at age 49 – but after knee and ankle injuries, and a shoulder reconstruction, I drifted away…. in part because I thought I was cheating my training partners by asking then not to attack my right arm too hard or too fast. This June I returned at age 62… and it’s been a BLAST!! I decided I would focus on slowing way down, learning, and remaining as relaxed as possible. And thanks to you.. I added Having Fun! If only I can do this as long as your grandfather did!! Very best regards!

  17. Eric says:

    Ryron, you realize you are entering a realm where most teachers don’t go and a direction in the art / sport that goes against the grain? I wish there were more teachers like you.

  18. hawkhardy says:

    Everyone has their GJJ journey, IMO. I came into GJJ with the idea of just backing up my kick boxing & boxing, but when it saved my life when the other arts couldn’t, then it became my primary focus. I had a burning need to reach certain goals for myself in GJJ/BJJ of which tournament competition was a big part. However, because of my job, environment, and prior experience in real confrontation, I knew certain excellent tournament moves would get you hurt on the street. So my jits had to stay real. At that time in my GJJ career/life/journey it was a chore! LOL! I was 42 and rolling with people half my age! Still, I was in shape & motivated. Then, they started having tournaments with age groups which was great for me. It took me 14 years to reach my primary goals and another 4 to reach the ones I had set along the way. In 2009 I had reached any tournament goal I had set, plus because of the reality of my job and environment, my techs that I used could work on the street. By my 60th birthday, I was ready to do just what would work on the street. It was, for me, like being set free! There were no rules, no points to worry about, none of that. It didn’t matter where I was as long as I protected myself, AND I could incorporate the many years of Boxing & Kickboxing I had into my GJJ. I followed the GrandMaster’s principles in staying relaxed and not punching myself out, etc…… I went head on into the Gracie Combatives which I had a foundation for, BUT because of my rank and experience could see little things in the basics I had not seen before. I honestly believe if you know the GCs along with the standup the GrandMaster taught and you know these where its just a reaction to put them into use, you can survive a confrontation against anyone. When you incorporate what’s in S1 & S2, that’s what the Cajuns call “lagniappe” which is a small gift given by the owner to a customer on a sale of goods or in shorter terms, “a little extra”.I hope everyone’s GJJ journey is as fulfilling as mine has been in both combat & life.

  19. Jiu Jitsu is my hobby, but I live my life by what I have learned. Hard work pays off, on the mat or otherwise. Surrounding yourself with good people, which is what JJ tends to do, makes your life more fulfilling and satisfying. I am also fortunate enough that my family is involved and my two of my best friends are the owner of the Academy I train at, and one of the other instructors.
    I have health issues, but I will continue with Jiu Jitsu for as long as my body will allow it. Regardless of my belt, as long as I can be a teacher/student and spread the world of Jiu Jitsu, I am going to be a happy man.

  20. GiFreak says:

    Letting jiu jitsu make the decision for me. Started as a hobby so that I could sustain it, but it’s spreading to new areas of my life every day and believe one day it will sustain me.

    If the black belt comes, it comes.

  21. jeffwassom says:

    Ryron, so stoked you have a blog man. Huge fan of your work/play here.

    Jiu-Jitsu is a part of the soul, so it’s both life, hobby, and neither. It’s there and continues capturing the imagination in a way few things have.

    Hope the Galvao match is great times for you!

  22. jonny6767 says:

    a hobby for me!

    but its starting to influence my whole life, in terms of lifestyle choices. i dunno, its just fun!

  23. JimmyDean101 says:

    BJJ very quickly went from a marital art/self defense interest to spiritual pursuit for me. Finding the calm within the storm over and over and over again has expanded my awareness in ways I never thought possible; from internal to external.

    For me it’s Life. The word ‘Hobby’ just doesn’t seem to do it justice.

  24. Mike Ball says:

    A hobby doesnt give it enough credit for what its done for my life, its not my ENTIRE life either. But thats what I love about Jiu Jitsu – its so many different things to so many people. Its influenced my life in areas that I would have never expected to even consider it being. Just like we take control, pass, improve position, etc… Ive unconsiously done the same for my life on a much larger scale. Sometimes it feels like a long relationship with someone, you have good days and bad days but its all love in the end. I like to compete a couple times a year, and train hard to do so, but the rest of the time Im keeping it playful, sometimes its hard to not KIP when competing! I love the sport, the game, the lifestyle, the art, the passion, and the people. KIP!! PS awesome job last night! you looked like you were having the time of your life! Jiu Jitsu Wins!

  25. viniramos says:

    It was amazing to see your match with André Galvão. You kept it so playful and it was amazing!
    Wish I had you as a master in my life… here in Curitiba – Brazil. I’m thankful for the internet, for the, so I can watch your videos, for this blog that can read every day, for youtube that I can watch some of your rolls. Maybe you are not here in person, but I want to let you know that you’ve been helping me a lot in my Jiu-Jitsu, and I’m just a white belt! Can’t wait for more to come… can’t wait for the next post, can’t wait for the next videos. Thank you.

    Your long distance friend.


  26. rocdy says:

    Personally, I do not train in BJJ/GJJ because there is no GJJ available here in Amsterdam, sadly… I have tried BJJ but I am just not interested in participating in any tournaments. I do train in JJJ, however, and actually, my training mentality is not very clear: it is a mixture of training for self defense, improving myself (both mentally and physically) and having fun.

    I think it started off with wanting to learn some self defense, first few belts (yellow, orange) it meant quite a lot to me. I saw it as a “goal” and as an “achievement”. However, the longer I train (nearly three years now), the more I realize having fun is actually the best approach to doing something. If you set goals, it might feel like work, perhaps you will still have the right focus, but it might feel like a chore. If you just forget about goals, look at your training as an endless road, you will stop focusing on these rather irrelevant things and get to see the bigger picture. It is about learning, yes, but the most important part is to enjoy your time on the mat. If you do not enjoy it and you only do it to get your black belt as soon as possible, you can, figuratively speaking, as well as go to a shop and buy yourself a black belt in my opinion.

  27. Daniel Bedwell says:

    Here is my two cents worth. “It’s not a race it’s a journey. Enjoy the moment. Sometimes in life we become so focused on the finish line that we fail to find joy in the journey… Do we listen to beautiful music waiting for the final note to fade before we allow ourselves to truely enjoy it? No. We listen and connect to the variations of melody, rhythm and harmony throughout the composition.” – Dieter F. Uchtdorf
    This is how I am trying to have my mindset when it comes to jiu jitsu. Of course my goal is to obtain a black belt. However, I want to do it and ENJOY it. Enjoy the journey. The ending solution is not the greatest part. It is what you do to get there.
    P.S. Chicago all the way Ryron! Thanks for the awesome Seminar in St. George last weekend. You should definitely make some “Breakdown” videos and explain your defensive mindset and positioning. Keepitplayful!

  28. James says:

    As a recent convert to Jiu-Jitsu, I find the second path to a Jiu-Jitsu life to be more appropriate. I have found something I love to do. In these early months I find I must study and focus very hard in order to become “brilliant in the basics”. Build a strong foundation. I actually started jiu-Jitsu before I found Gracie Combatives and while I miss the rolling, I thoroughly enjoy the attention to detail in every technique I learn. I understand the rolling will come back when I am more experienced and then I will have slowed down…”slow is smooth, smooth is fast.”.”

  29. Jiu Jiu says:

    When I started doing jiu jitsu, it was so that I could be more active and lose weight. The weight has dropped – partly from physical activity, but more from being around people with such healthy lifestyles.

    For me, jiu jitsu has become an integral part of my life. I herniated a disc in my back and came to class each week, just watching (your brother’s video about his back exercises was very helpful). I didn’t want to lose this piece of my life.

    I can see both. I think that the idea that jiu jitsu is your LIFE can have negative connotations in that it sounds like it’s to the exclusion of all else. I think that for me, when you focus on a belt, that’s what it is most like.

    However, for me, I want it to be somewhere in between a hobby and my main focus in life. For me, it gives me some purpose other than being a crazy cat lady. DOING jiu jitsu is a hobby, but jiu jitsu itself has ingrained itself in my life in a positive way. I regularly blog about it, I participate in communities, I’ve made such wonderful friends. It’s become a key part of my identity, and I’m happy and comfortable with that. It’s much better than the life I had been living, where TV and my couch were number one important.

    So I want answer c) to become a black belt, jiu jitsu should become an essential part of your life.

  30. Andy says:

    I have been training in martial arts for most of my life, and without even knowing it, looking back i can now see that most of the time i was always trying to WIN in one way or another…this can be a natural progression for a younger man, but this way of training will not last forever. now having turned 44 years old, i totally understand that in order to continue to be able to enjoy the arts i love for as long as i “Thought” i always would, i need to “keep it playful” and i am trying to instil this into my students too. as its never to early to start keeping it playful

    Respect Ryron

  31. Phaedrus says:

    At my old age, hobbies become synonymous with life itself. Making Jiu-Jitsu my hobby makes it one way for me to reconnect with the inner fire that gives life meaning. It’s like being a kid again when life was play and play was fun. I don’t know why I waited for retirement to learn how to tie flies or how to tuck and shoot! Thanks Ryron for reminding me that keeping it playful is the key to Jiu-Jitsu and the key to life at any age.

  32. Aaron says:

    I don’t practice Jiu-jitsu yet but I am very interested in what it has to offer. From an outsiders perspective I view it has family and a support network; and within this family there is a core philosophy about learning and teaching to be best people we can be in and outside of Jiu-jitsu.

    The one thing that draws me to this path is the Gracie philosophy of Jiu-jitsu and not the sport orientated controlled setting. I just want to keepitplayful.

  33. Claudio Trajtemberg says:

    I will stay white belt my whole life, so i dont know.

  34. Shane Dela Cruz says:

    Keepin it playful helped my jiu jitsu game so much. It gave me opportunities to catch submissions from positions I wouldn’t normally get. Thanks Ryron for being the great ambassador of Gracie Jiu Jitsu.


    Shane Dela Cruz

  35. Tyler Barrett says:

    Belts are meaningless. Just keep training and always keep learning.

  36. BP says:

    I didn’t get it at first, but now I do! great concept! What do I do if my training partners don’t also keep it playful?

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