Good evening all. I wanted to share a random note I composed many belts ago whilst swept up in a fever of passion inspired by this lovely art. Four years after putting together this ode—surprisingly—and not so surprisingly—the feelings remain the same.
Thanks to Thomas, a.k.a. "The Grumpy Grappler" for inviting me to contribute to his blog, and good luck on his surgery! There's something to be said about someone who continues to involve himself in whatever way he can in a sport he was instructed to avoid. But the gentle art is like that...once you've been bitten...you're forever a bloodsucker.
So many people come up to me and ask,
"Don't you do karate?"
And I know what they're thinking. The amusement in their eyes and their slightly smug smile tell all. They think it's a joke. They think it's a child's activity set for dreaming nerds too timid to enter the cage or learn to box. It's an escapism, a fantasy created within the room boarded by foam mats and gray-haired men donning thick white uniforms.
But there's a difference between Brazilian jiu-jitsu and all the other hi-yah! karate-chop practices such as tae kwon do, aikido, krav maga, ninjitsu, etc.
And there's also a difference between Brazilian jiu-jitsu and the meat-head cage-fighting mentality that no-holds barred fighting has molded into. It's almost the same difference betwen Bjj and muay thai or boxing.
Number 1: Brazilian Jitsu is actually effective and tailored to real ways of subduing or submitting a person.
Number 2: Brazlian Jitsu does not actually hurt a person when subduing or submitting them.
Herein lies the beauty of this sport. You can control a person, completely, without literally inflicting pain or damage upon your opponent. It is clean, smooth and effective if applied properly.
Most people argue that Brazilian jiu-jitsu is not real fighting. This is because jiu-jitsu lacks the use of strikes, kicks, scathing, biting, hair-pulling or weapons.
But think about it. If faced with an opponent who knows nothing but how to "fight dirty" or throw punches, a jiu-jitsuer's first instinct will be to take their opponent down. If the jiu-jitsuer commits and successfully takes his or her opponent down, then the opponent is completely defenseless (save for futile scathing, hair-pulling or easily controlled attempts to strike). When taken down, the jiu-jitsuer has a large selection of submissions to finish their opponent. If no submission presents itself (out of the jiu-jitsuer's fear) or the jiu-jitsuer decides not to submit the opponent, the jiu-jitsuer should (if properly trained and adequate) know how to control his or her opponent.
Jiu-jitsu is guided by tight control and the ability to acknowledge his or her opponent's most subtle body movement.
The slightest movement results in an entirely different strategy. Vision, as exemplified by professors who blindfold their students and the numerous blind wrestlers and jiu-jitsuers of the world, means little in jiu-jitsu. You see with your body and touch, not with your eyes. So while your "dirty fighter" is flailing and flopping like a crazed monkey, you're calm and collected. Because you are aware of the situation. You are in control.
Just keep your distance, crouch down and pace the invisible circle before leaping into a takedown.
And remember, don't get knocked out before your awe-inspiring, battle-winning move.
Which brings me to my second point...you won. But is the opponent hurt, mangled or maimed in any way? In striking (particularly boxing and muay thai kickboxing), you are hurting your opponent until they "give up". Striking is completely based upon inflicting pain. Pain and injury are the means to an end. You are destroying a person's flesh by creating forced impact colliding with the tender parts of a human. You create bruises, bloody noses and possible injuries.
But in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, you can overcome and conquer a person without actually hurting them at all. Cops show up at your door because of a domestic disturbance? Bar brawl ending up in interrogation? Who will they respect more? The person covered in bruises and blood? Or his or her passed-out opponent, whom by means of a controlled choke was safely put to sleep for a brief moment?
It's like being an adult in control of a seemingly uncontrollable child. You possess the ability to control them without hurting them because you are much more capable than the child. Your motor skills are more developed, and you possess more physical strength. In knowing jiu-jitsu you are like an adult against the un-jiu-jitsuing numberless children.
And after a hardy night of 2-3 hours of rolling on the mat with other sweaty, disheveled and panting men, you have the comfort of knowing you didn't hurt any of them. A definite camaraderie and bond develops between practitioners. It's the adrenaline of fighting without the drama. It's fighting with your friends for fun, then fake trash-talking, hugging, shaking hands, play wrestling and going out for a beer later.
And that is why I love jiu-jitsu.