Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is slowly becoming one of the most popular martial arts in the world. ‘Back in the day’ as old heads would say it, you had to walk 8 miles in 10 feet of snow uphill both ways just to receive instruction from a blue belt. Now i can throw a fortune cookie out my apartment window and hit ten black belts. But with growth comes problems, changes, and delusion. Below are five harsh realities of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
1. You are probably not ever going to be a black belt
I used to think that Saulo Ribeiro made up the quote ‘A black belt is a white belt who never quit’, but i have seen it at just about every academy i have ever trained at. Not sure if Saulo made it up or not, but he certainly didn’t trademark it cause its freaking everywhere. I guess its true to some extent, every black belt started at white belt and didn’t quit. But thats like saying, “a sergeant is a private who never quit.” While the general idea is true, there is so much more to it than that. A black belt is more than a white belt who kept showing up. A black belt is someone who got tapped ten million times. Someone who poured their heart and soul into something 90% of the world doesn’t understand. Someone who spent an insurmountable of time and money on something that other people simply would not prioritize. Although a black belt is a white belt who never quit, the context ignores the fact that most people do quit! less than 3% of BJJ practitioners ever
2. You are probably not ever going to be a world champion
It goes without saying that BJJ is getting really popular. Five years ago you’d have to spell out Brazilian jiu jitsu because most people would read it as BJ and think you were being a pervert. Boy have we come a long way. Its becoming popular to be a bjj player, its becoming popular to compete. with flashy esoteric styles like Buchecha and Vieira popping up, everyone wants to be a world champion. Although this is a very good goal to set, people fail to realize that being a world champion requires more time , work, money, and dedication than 99% of people are willing to shell out for a medal, tee shirt, and the title ‘world champion’. I’ve never met a world champion who takes days off. I’ve never met a world champion who doesn’t eat sleep breathe and defecate Brazilian jiu jitsu. It truly is a lifestyle. If you fall into this category, you could be a world champion, but more often than not people train 1-3 days a week and outside of the academy have other interests and goals. Being a bjj world champion requires being consumed by Brazilian jiu jitsu training, and not just on social media.
3. We need to stop handing out blue belts
As recently as a year ago, I would say that bjj was the hardest martial art to get ranked in, but aside from the black belt, i simply do not think this is true anymore. I don’t know if professors are giving in to peer pressure or if the standard is actually dropping, but it seems to be almost effortless to get a blue belt anymore, and even the other belts at some academies. I’m afraid that BJJ is taking the same path as eastern martial arts.
when the Japanese first immigrated to america, we already had farmers and blacksmiths and every trade in between, but what they brought with them was the martial arts. Now in Japan, if you didn’t meet a certain physical mental and technical standard, you simply didn’t get to be a martial artist. You got to be a farmer or something. But this same standard couldn’t be met by the Americans. Americans wanted to practice the martial arts, and they wanted to be black belts, and they wouldn’t shell out their hard earned pennies for anything less. So what did the Japanese do? they dumbed it down. They made it for everyone. Over the years it became more and more watered down to the point that the it became a complete joke. (sound familiar?) The more one guy does it the more the next guy after him is gonna do it. Professors selling their souls for gym fees and being able to say “we have this many black belt at our school” is dumbing down what used to be considered the most effective martial art in the world.
4. we need to stop leg shaming
you ever wonder why leg locks are illegal in the IBJJF and so frowned upon all over the world?
>> READ THIS <<
We need to stop living in the backlash of Helio Gracie’s guys getting tapped by Franca’s guys. Training only the top half of your body is as silly as training either the left or right side of your body. If you were a boxer would you only practice and punch with one hand? Then why do the same with one half of your body? #LegalizeIt (leg locks).
5. Guard pulling works
I hate guard pulling. It makes my freaking blood boil. But you know what? It works. I like takedowns, so its not like i don’t want to be on top. I just wanna do it on my terms. I think everyone secretly agrees with me on this and doesn’t wanna admit it. STOP PULLING GUARD. (proceeds to take you down and land in your guard). The second school of thought is that we wanna be on top, but we want to land in side control so we don’t have to go through the trouble of actually passing the guard. Because that would require energy, which us big guys have a limited supply of. There needs to be some sort of system in place for guard pulling so white belts aren’t jumping in the air like upstream salmon and ripping each others knees apart, but for the dedicated practitioner, i hate to admit it but guard puling works.