Tuesday, December 09, 2014

As Jiu-Jitsu Evolves, When is Difference Different?

Brazilian jiu jitsu is evolving but evolving into what? Anyone who has trained in multiple jiu jitsu schools will notice the differences in philosophy and technical emphasis that exist between academies. Certainly, there is a common body of techniques and transitions that they all share; but what they emphasize is so different, so as to call into question whether the term “Brazilian jiu jitsu” will continue to be adequate in describing them all.
Either Brazilian jiu jitsu will reproduce new styles of martial art or it will continue to exist as a single combat sport, with disparate competition rule sets, the way Wrestling does. With the current state of jiu jitsu variety, simply saying one has a black belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu isn’t as descriptive as it was in the early 90’s.

I'll admit to being somewhere between the first and second schools, myself. I've never been especially preoccupied by having the best jiu-jitsu in a room full of guys and gals who know jiu-jitsu. For me, jiu-jitsu is a shield against the world outside the academy, a self-defense resource first and foremost, a response to the great philosophical question: "What if he tries to punch you in the face?"

Everything else, as enjoyable as it is, (and it is) is secondary.

That said, I'm especially curious about what drives people to want to learn to train jiu-jitsu now. What is motivating the folks signing up to learn jiu-jitsu today - or, even better, the ones who will sign up in 2015?  Self-defense? A dream of being an IBJJF champion or MMA star? My suspicion is that it will be the same thing that's always drawn a certain percentage of the population toward martial arts, something that's a little superhero, a little warrior, and more than a little spiritual, as well.

More on that last later.