Royce is one of the major recognizable links between spectating and BJJ. Even with great jiu-jitsu practitioners today in the UFC, tapping out many of their opponents, the image they present is not the same as Royce in his gi. Unfortunately, Royce’s impact will slowly continue to diminish with time.
So apart from the old school UFC tapes that got so many people to start training, where else do people see jiu-jitsu for the first time? The rest of the reasons are not as glamorous as something like a UFC champion – they are more practical in nature.
The next lure for people to jiu-jitsu is a referral from friends. This is probably one of the most common ways that people start training. Jiu-jitsu has a very obsessive and sometimes cult-like following, so most of its practitioners become so infatuated with the sport that they want everyone they know to at least try it. This really drives the growth of the sport, especially if every person that trains go out and convinces two or three of his friends to start training as well. This type of charisma is something that is unique to jiu-jitsu. You don’t often see people who play hockey or basketball running around trying to convince their friends to play ball and or step on the ice.
The other way people commonly find out about jiu-jitsu is by simply seeing an academy while out and about and allowing curiosity to take hold. It may not seem like a big deal, but the academies that do a great job promoting their business can really have an impact on the surrounding community, especially for those that are looking to get fit or are already quite active. A lot of times, academies will place roadside signs to get people to train and reap the benefits of jiu-jitsu. Such signs as ‘learn to defend yourself’, ‘get in shape’, or even ‘kids martial arts program’ are the most common. When people drive by the sign daily on their way to work or wherever else, seeing the same sign over and over again has a strong impact and a portion of these people usually end up popping-in for a look.