Joe Rogan learnt BJJ because he got “destroyed” in a sparring session

UFC commentator Joe Rogan is known for his expertise in mixed martial arts and also has one of the most popular podcasts in the world.

In a recent conversation on his podcast, Rogan recalled what made him dedicate himself to jiu-jitsu after initially struggling with it.

“The reason why I started Jiu-Jitsu is… look when I started Jiu-Jitsu I was a good kickboxer. I was a you know, a very high level Taekwondo fighter and then I got into kickboxing. I was good at kickboxing, I was good at standup striking. You know there’s plenty of videos you can see of me kicking things, I’m good at it. I was helpless at Jiu-Jitsu. I could have easily said f**k this, I’m just go back to kickboxing where I feed my ego and I feel good. But I was like oh my God I’m helpless.”

Rogan was already an accomplished kickboxer and taekwondo fighter. But grappling arts like jiu-jitsu were entirely foreign to him. When he was dominated in BJJ by another guy, Rogan realized that he had to get better.

“I remember, I was training with this guy. I had just started out. I was a white belt, and I think he was a purple belt. And this dude mauled me. I mean mauled me, this Brazilian kid.”

“I’m so shocked at how helpless I am. Like I was really delusional. I had this idea because I thought I knew how to fight so that would kind of apply to Jiu-Jitsu. It didn’t apply at all.”

It was a revelation – a moment of profound helplessness that spurred Rogan into a new dimension of dedication.

“It was so humiliating. It was one specific training session… And so what happens when you first start training is initially, you will spar with other white belts, and you’re both kinda clunky. You don’t really know what you’re doing, and you’re trying to choke people.”

When Rogan first started, he would train with other beginners and fumble through techniques together. But soon his coaches put him up against more advanced students.

“But then as you start to progress…They’ll start putting you in with blue belts or occasionally, they they’ll even put you in a brown belt.”

It was in one of these sessions that Rogan got utterly dominated by his opponent.

“But this f**king dude just ran through me. And it was, like, one of the first times I had trained with someone who was really pretty good. And my initial feeling was, I’m so shocked at how helpless I am.”

The defeat was a rude awakening for Rogan, who realized he had much further to go in this discipline. But it lit a fire in him to dedicate himself fully to jiu-jitsu.

“I gotta get good at this. I can’t live knowing that guys can do this to me.”

Rogan saw his beginner status not as a reason to quit, but as motivation to put in the time and effort. Over years of dedicated training, he eventually earned his black belt. But the early humbling losses helped instill in him the work ethic and patience needed to excel in jiu-jitsu.