Is BJJ a martial art?: Expressing the same principles in different ways

I've been listening to a lot of interviews with the two above Chrises: Haueter & Graugart, and thinking a lot about what it is about jiujitsu that we happily dedicate so much of our time and energy to. Why is it so engaging?

In a now famous grading speech by Chris Haueter, he talks about he misses the old days where the applicability of jiujitsu as a fighting art was still paramount and how, nevertheless, he loves the technical advancements of modern competitive jiujitsu. He seals the deal with the quote:

Watch Chris' full speech here:

We all get taught and shown the same fundamental techniques and principles of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Everybody gets shown the same fundamental guard passes and everyone is made aware that if you leave a hand in and one out you risk getting triangled...etc.. Not because there is some superior authority that runs around and checks that people adhere to abstract rules and regulations, but rather because BJJ and Grappling (and by extension MMA and all true combative sports) have an inbuilt reality-check: Does it work in sparring?

But while we are all taught the same principles for, say, chokes from side control, every athlete is free to interpret and indeed express these principles in her own way. Each athlete becomes, or at least is given the opportunity to become, an artist in their own right, with the jiujitsu mat being the canvas. Why else would we consider techniques, even when they bring us pain and discomfort, beautiful?

Just the other day I visited the Roger Gracie Academy HQ here in London where Mr Charles Negromonte was holding a fantastic class on specific sparring. We would spend round in the following geographies: Side, mount & back. Attacking and defending for full pelt. After the end of each double round (so both partners get a chance) Charles would stop the class and gather us all around to discuss any issues that may have arisen. I asked him about his favourite details regarding transitioning from side to the mount and the things he showed were nothing short of revolutionary to my game. Why? Because he provided me with amazing tools. Using the artist analogy, he upgraded my brushes and provided me with uber-rich palette of colours to paint with.

Jiujitsu is an art. Some say it's a combat sport, some say it's the most effective self-defence on the planet and it is all these things but above all (to me) it's an art.

Here is a simple example of a principle in BJJ and 3 different ways to express it (I'm sure you can think of hundreds more, but I leave that to you).

To prevent an opponent from turning into you, hence remaining flat on their back, from side control you can:

1. Crossface them
2. Pin their far shoulder to the mat
3. Use your hips to turn their legs and hips away from you (see picture below of me learning this particular BJJ secret from Royler Gracie black belt Mr Eddie Kone)

Here's an awesome jiujitsu instructional clip by another hero of mine Mr Xande Ribiero on the above principles and so much more. It suffices to say, there are artist and then there are fine-artists!



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