There was a time when rightly or wrongly this art seemed invincible. This mysterious Gracie family and their undefeated record of fights against all comers. Royce Gracie destroying all of his foes in the first UFCs. But now? Where are the jiu jitsu champions? What has happened? Has Brazilian Jiu Jitsu jumped the shark?
Let me start by saying no. Emphatically no, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is still and will continue to be an important part of mixed martial arts and real life self-defense. However… there are some very disturbing things happening within the sport that will continue to weaken its effectiveness.
There are some very simple explanations for why we don’t see the dominance of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu that we once saw. First and probably most importantly is the fact that everybody knows at least a little Jiu Jitsu now. It is one thing to tap out a world class wrestler who outweighs you by a hundred pounds when he doesn’t know what a triangle choke is. But its something completely different when he not only knows, but knows how to defend it properly. Jiu Jitsu in this case has been a victim of its own success.
But then we have some other issues. Time limits and stand ups have really made jiu jitsu less effective. In addition we also have rounds now. The whole stage is set up to avoid a long protracted ground war. Add to that the seemingly insignificant fact that you cannot even wear gi pants anymore. The rules have shifted mostly against the BJJ player.
These are things that we really can’t change. But the thing that worries me, is that there is much that has changed within Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and it looks like it’s not changing back. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, which arrogantly derided other arts as being tournament specific arts not practical for real life situations has become what it despised. We have people jumping on their backs, working for a point or an advantage and then stalling out an entire fight in order to win a match. We have more and more complex maneuvers all designed for tournament success with no thought to actual fight relevance. We have forgotten what the late great Carlson Gracie told us, “you punch a black belt in the face and he turns into a brown belt, punch him again and he is a purple belt”.
At Ojai Valley Mixed Martial Arts, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is alive and well. We are learning this beautiful art with joy and determination. But our goal is to work very hard towards hearkening back to the old era, where position and submission are the goal. Where practicality is the foremost goal. And we are thankful for people like Kron Gracie that are leading the way.