BJJ – Respect the Sport, Respect the Art, Train It All

Posted: October 9, 2016 in 1, All Eli's BJJ Posts, Most Recent Posts
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I have tried having the conversation/debate/argument about Sport and Self-Defense for BJJ, and I have arrived at this: It is all good. Train it all. The sport can enhance the self-defense and vice versa.

Oddly, this isn’t always a popular opinion, because the self-defense purists argue that the sport is a corruption of the original intention of the Gracie family martial art. I totally understand this viewpoint, because if I were to call boxing or wrestling or judo a complete martial art, I would be very sorely mistaken. Sport BJJ is just that though – it is a rule-based and structured sport in which many techniques are adapted and applied in a competitive environment in order to determine who can best apply their art in that setting. I don’t know any serious competitors that think what they are doing is a complete representation of the totality of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

However, there are many sport competitors who neither see the need or value of practicing the more martial aspects of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. They are content with training only for sport, and don’t care about the self-defense. This is perfectly OK! If I only want to box, and have no aptitude or interest in grappling or weapons training or whathaveyou, then fine! Let me box. However, if you are like me, you enjoy the entire art and see the value of sport jiu-jitsu in building attributes that enhance your ability to apply all techniques, such as timing, sensitivity, reflexes, athleticism, etc.

So what is the real problem here? It is when one side of the “argument” makes the assumption that the other views their version as the true and only way to train. Competitors thinking the self-defense is impractical or a waste of time are as bad as self-defense practitioners who train in a vacuum and never pressure test their abilities in a competitive environment. Personally, I believe these two myopic groups have the loudest voices (or keyboard strokes) in the debate, which is very unfortunate because it makes it seem as if they are representatives of BJJ…and they are not. These loud voices of opposition and critics of other practitioners should be marginalized and minimized. When we focus too much on the criticism of others, we take the attention off of our own progress.

I will leave you with this quote from Theodore Roosevelt:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

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