Joe Rogan Details Feeling ‘Humiliated’ in First BJJ Class

Now a multi-million-dollar podcaster, Joe Rogan was once a promising martial artist. His journey from a highly skilled karate and taekwondo practitioner to a household name in comedy and podcasting is nothing short of extraordinary.

Before his career took a turn towards entertainment, Rogan was deeply embedded in the world of martial arts. He boasted a stable record in taekwondo and kickboxing.

Rogan began his martial arts training at the age of 14, starting with karate and taekwondo. His dedication and skill quickly set him apart, leading to significant achievements. By 19, Rogan had won the US Open Taekwondo Championship as a lightweight. His future in martial arts seemed bright until a pivotal moment steered him towards a different path.

Despite his expertise in taekwondo, Rogan encountered a humbling experience when he first competed against a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu specialist.

In a conversation with retired professional mixed martial artist Royce Gracie on ‘JRE MMA Show’ #156, Rogan recounted his first encounter with BJJ.

After the boom of BJJ following UFC 1 and UFC 2, Rogan decided to take a class. He shared, “I remember the feeling of the first class: the feeling of how humiliated you are when you don’t know Jiu-Jitsu and you spar with someone who knows Jiu-Jitsu.”

Despite holding a black belt in taekwondo, Rogan found himself outmatched in BJJ. He said: “It’s like you think you know how to fight, and then you get in there and all of a sudden you’re on your back. You don’t know what to do, and all of a sudden you’re getting choked, and you’re like, ‘Oh no, this is crazy.'”

This humbling experience reshaped Rogan’s understanding of martial arts. He went on to explain that even though he had a well-rounded understanding of MMA, he was humbled by the BJJ specialist who subverted his understanding of the sport.

Rogan stated: “So I had a completely distorted idea of my ability to fight, completely distorted. And I remember my first class; I was like, ‘Oh boy, now I know.'”

Intrigued by BJJ, Rogan’s journey took a significant turn after witnessing Royce Gracie’s masterclass performance at the 1994 UFC Championship against Ken Shamrock. Determined to learn from the best, Rogan traveled to train under Carlson Gracie, Royce’s cousin. He remained a brown belt for eight years until 2012, when he finally earned his black belt.

Rogan’s perseverance paid off when he received his first black belt from Eddie Bravo, followed by another from Jean Jacques-Machado, this time with a Gi (a traditional martial arts uniform). Despite the challenges, Rogan’s journey in BJJ has been a testament to his dedication and passion for martial arts.