“Recently I've been thinking a lot and having a tough time with the current state of BJJ. This problem for me started after the 2009 World Championships, at that time many of the finals lacked the excitement and the drama that normally finals would carry. I thought it was just an anomaly but the same or worse occurred in 2010, when some competitors, using modern techniques, ended up entangled for most of the matches without any action. These matches even drew comments from the normally quiet Japanese reporters as to "how boring the matches were." Of course this was not the case in every weight division and with every fighter; Roger Gracie and some other "Tops" were going for it in all their matches. But a fair number of finals, as I said were super boring.
Since then I've been thinking quite a bit about what is the reasonwhy anyone would want to learn BJJ? If, as a new student, you had just watched what I'd watched at the Worlds, BJJ for you would be a set of sportive techniques that would not help you in a real life situation. And look, I am not against sport BJJ, but by the looks of things, we are getting more and more removed from the real reason the "arte suave" became so popular: Because it is one of the most effective ways for a regular person to defend him or herself against a stronger opponent!
And that brings me to my point; recently I visited the Gracie Academy in Torrance, California. In talking with Rener Gracie, grandson of the legend Grandmaster Helio Gracie, the subject of the focus of JJ came up and I brought up the experience of the Worlds. That is when Rener showed me their program called "Gracie Combatives." Gracie Combatives is a modernization of the core self-defense program taught at the original Gracie Academy in Rio. The idea of Gracie Combatives is to teach a "normal" person how to defend and survive a "real life" attack. Something that many of us fear, and the reason most people join a Martial Arts academy. In the Gracie Combatives course they address how to survive and defend the most common street aggression situations such as strikes, grabs and head-locks, both standing up and on the ground.
After watching the Gracie Combatives group class, and hearing what Rener and Rorion had to say, it just solidified my belief that, although BJJ has a fun competition side to it, the most important aspect is being totally neglected at most schools. The greatest benefit for us "normal" people to learn BJJ is the increased confidence we gain from knowing we can defend ourselves in a real fight, and with Gracie Combatives that is exactly what we get. Once you've mastered the self-defense aspect of the art, and you are 100% confident you can defend against a bigger stronger adversary, then you should feel free to expand your knowledge of BJJ as you wish.
That is when the words of my master, Royler Gracie, rung even more true. Royler always emphasized self-defense, and he used to say: "If you don't know how to escape from a head-lock, you are in trouble. What will you do if someone gets you in a head-lock on the streets? Yell out, 'hey I'm a Royler Gracie purple belt?' that’s not going to solve your problem!"
At The Dartford BJJ Academy we teach all the material on the Combative's Course and BJJ Basics in our Weds 18:30 BJJ "Core Essentials" Class.
Come in and try a complimentary Class...you will be hooked! :)