MARTIAL ARTS FOR CHILDREN AND ADULTS!

Self-defense vs. Sport

Over the past two decades, I’ve observed a profound shift in the landscape of Jiu-Jitsu in the United States. Once a disciplined means of self-defense, Jiu-Jitsu has largely metamorphosed into a sport-centric pursuit. Today, an overwhelming number of practitioners cannot conceive of Jiu-Jitsu existing for any purpose beyond the quest for medals in the sportive arena. Under this modern lens, many are convinced that the essence of Jiu-Jitsu lies in a 6-10 minute bout of athletic prowess against an opponent of the same weight class, employing techniques like guard pulling or sitting and scooting to engage, and leveraging strategies to amass points and advantages to “win” the match. It is not uncommon to witness practitioners, even at the esteemed black belt level, turning their backs on opponents to evade points, often falling prey to submissions in the process.

While the sportive aspect can indeed be exhilarating, with its acrobatic movements and intricate transitions, we must remind ourselves that this represents but a sliver of Jiu-Jitsu’s vast tapestry. I share in the admiration for athletes like Gordon Ryan, Roger Gracie, and the Ruotolo brothers, acknowledging their extraordinary talent, dedication, and the immense sacrifices they have made. They inspire countless individuals to embrace the grind, encouraged by voices like Jocko and Rogan to “embrace the suck.” Yet, it is crucial to recognize that BJJ need not be an ordeal of suffering unless one chooses it to be. There are alternative approaches that facilitate rapid improvement and growth, minimizing the grueling aspects and rendering BJJ a more enjoyable, less self-punishing endeavor. Will there be moments of challenge, where you might breathe hard, panic, and feel smothered, propelling you into growth? Certainly. But there are methods to stay safe and discover solutions that narrow the chasm between struggle and survival more than most believe. Astonishingly, there exist countless goals to pursue within Jiu-Jitsu, ensuring perpetual engagement and growth across many lifetimes.

Instead of engaging in futile debates about the merits of competitive BJJ, we should recognize the multifaceted nature of Jiu-Jitsu, acknowledging its capacity to address a plethora of needs. For some, it is a means to win medals during a fleeting window of youth. For others, it serves as a lifeline in physical confrontations against larger, stronger attackers, allowing them to control and deplete the opponent’s energy before securing a submission. For women, it offers a strategy to regain their feet during an assault, rather than expending all their energy without escape. For law enforcement officers, it provides a technique to subdue suspects without inflicting major injuries. For children, it offers a way to manage a larger bully, teaching negotiation and, if necessary, submission. Jiu-Jitsu can be all these things, not just one. To limit our perspective to a singular aspect is akin to judging a vast puzzle by examining only one piece in hand. Such a view is constrictive. By proclaiming that competition Jiu-Jitsu is the only true form, we render Jiu-Jitsu accessible only to the strong, the athletic, the inherently tough. This contradicts the very foundation of Jiu-Jitsu as envisioned by Helio Gracie, which was to empower the weaker individual against the stronger. It was about leveraging technique over brute strength. By perpetuating the notion that Jiu-Jitsu is reserved for those who can “embrace the suck” long enough to excel, we alienate those who need it most, while those who master it are often those who needed it the least.

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