Decades ago, before the lights, the glam, the fame, of the UFC or Pride, there were simply Jiu Jitsu players living in the country we know as Brazil , fighting for the chance to make a name for themselves. Of these people using the traditional Judo moves there was Helio. Helio who was the younger brother of Carlos Gracie was unable to train in traditional Jiu Jitsu that came out of Judo because of his poor health.
Helio later realized that most of the moves he memorized in Judo used brute strength, and therefore he was unable to execute these moves due to his poor health and small stature. So Helio being a small man using trial and error modified the moves he had learned to accommodate his weaker and smaller frame. Gracie Jiu Jitsu or Brazilian Jiu Jitsu was born.
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu will not make you a super human with super human strength, it will not single handedly allow you to win over multiple attackers, it will not help you get away or make you a smarter person, but what it WILL do is give you an advantage over the bigger , stronger person. It will give you a chance and that is all Helio and the Gracie family set out to prove. That it will give you a fighting chance using leverage and technique.
Years ago when in Brazil Helio set out to anyone willing to get in the ring with him , style vs style , challenge them to a no holds barred fight. Willing to sacrifice himself for the chance that one day the world will know what efficiency Jiu Jitsu holds he set out to fight the best. In his most famous match he fought master Judoka ,Masahiko Kimura, Helio giving up a substantial amount of weight to the Judoka did not intend to win the fight, but rather show the world he was able to survive. When master Kimura heard of Helio Gracies challenge he publicly stated ” if Gracie could survive three minutes, he should consider himself the winner” . well Gracie did survive 3 minutes, and not only that, the match went on for 13 minutes! Finally at the 13th minute Kimura positioned himself to apply a reverse ude garami ( shoulder lock ) and torqued Helios shoulder. But the brave and relentless Helio refused to tap. At this point during the match Carlos Gracie intervened, fearing Helios shoulder would be separated, threw in the towel. As a tribute to Kimura’s victory, the shoulder lock he applied to win the fight was named after him.
Now most people would say ” well Helio didn’t win, why the fame and why the recognition?” Well for many people who up to that point had thought of effective fighting as fancy jumps and kicks , had realized that this small man, willing to take an opponent much larger than him to prove a point, well there has to be some merit in this lunacy!
Well here’s where the title of the article comes in. Why should i train Brazilian Jiu Jitsu? One must ask himself ” would i rather learn inefficient, unrealistic fighting ?” Or would i rather learn an effective fighting style generated to not only survive , but to win?
The point taken from the early no holds barred or Vale Tudo ( which translates in Portuguese as “everything goes” ) is that Jiu Jitsu’s fighting techniques will overcome brute strength or force. Now obviously as stated before Jiu Jitsu will not give you super human strength, in fact Jiu Jitsu is so effective that most practitioners look like normal human beings and not like muscle filled Hercules types. Given the efficiency of Jiu Jitsu it is also used to live a healthy lifestyle. Practicing Jiu Jitsu gives you cardio, helps in breathing and it trains your mind to think a certain, humble way. It gives you confidence with everyday life and it will and can also help with building relationships and the comeraderie that goes along with it. Think lifelong Army buddies or Marine friends who have gone through the ordeals of war. The same thing applies with Jiu Jitsu. Given that most people have the feeling of belonging of having that ” ace in the hole ” mentality.
Training Jiu Jitsu can be helpful in the long run even if the intent is no to earn a black belt , but to maintain a healthy lifestyle and having fun. Most people train because they love to do it! Personally my long term Jiu Jitsu goal would be to one day pass on the knowledge i have learned through the years with as much efficiency as possible. Most people would like to have fun training although there are those who would love to earn recognition winning tournemants and that is ok too.
Most notable celebrities who train in Jiu Jitsu also do it for the love of it, including Ed O’neil from Married ..with Children fame , who is also a Gracie Jiu Jitsu black belt. Rikki Rockett of the band Poison is also a black belt under Renato Magno. Other celebrity Jiu Jitsu practitioners include Spencer Pratt of The Hills fame who is a purple belt, David Mamet , director of the movie Redbelt and other movies is a Jiu Jitsu purple belt under Renato Magno. Nicolas Cage who trains under Royce Gracie . Michael Clarke Duncan trains at the Gracie Academy Torrance CA. Paul Walker of Fast & Furious fame is a purple belt from Paragon Jiu-Jitsu under Ricardo “Franjinha” Miller. Comedian and commentator Joe Rogan is a brown belt under Eddie Bravo.
So as you can see many people of all walks of life & social status, enjoy training Jiu Jitsu. It has holding power because it’s effective. Other martial arts focus on a limited amount of techniques whereas Jiu Jitsu has numerous if not endless amounts of techniques . To become a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt takes years of hard work and dedication, on average it takes 10 years to acheive black belt status. To bcome a doctor or lawyer take less time as it does to become a black belt.
The Brazilian Jiu Jitsu community is relatively small even with the explosion of mixed martial arts, and the reason being because the general public still are not exposed to the sport in the media the way basketball or football might. Most exposure comes from word of mouth or from people wanting to learn more of the sport. Given the amount of information at our fingertips most still wouldn’t know what is happeneing in a Jiu Jitsu match. It would be like trying to understand a foreign language , unless you know what you are looking at, it may seem like a senseless wrestling match.
So in conclusion the choice to train is purely personal. You may want to train to become more social, or you may want to train to lose weight or drop your blood pressure. You may decide you want to start training to become more efficient in your way of thought. Or you may want to train to become a coach or to fight professionally. Whatever reason you decide to train will be a poitive one since nothing but positivity can come from someone wanting to advance in life and stature. Whatever your decsion may be to train , is a good one.
Build confidence, build self esteem, build yourself to become a better human in life and remember never stop.
See you on the mat!