In recent times, there have been some disputes on the topic of sports BJJ vs. street BJJ. But first, why even consider a JKD perspective on this topic anyway!? Well…. for one, JKD guys are close associates of Bjj practitioners and consider Bjj as one of the most important elements of their art. Most JKD guys also have had a very diverse training methodologies and perspectives—-so asking their opinions on something can be valuable. It’s always wise to consult on things, especially with those of sincere people who may be from outside of our immediate circles. They may point out something from outside in which no one from inside has ever thought of, regardless of how advanced one may be from within a closed group, culture, or philosophical persuasion. Interestingly, we know historically that our grappling root and instructor, Jigorō Kanō (嘉納 治五郎) used ideas from other schools of thought in order to formulate his own established system. In 1898 he wrote :
“By taking together all the good points I had learned of the various schools and adding thereto my own inventions and discoveries, I devised a new system for physical culture and moral training as well as for winning contests.”
So what do we do with the sports aspect of BJJ as supposed to street BJJ? Are we even asking the right question? or is it that we are just arguing over one out of hundreds of premises (competition rules), in which hundred different hypothetical [federations] could have invented in sports of BJJ?
Here is what I think…….for new students who start in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, they should [neither] worry about street fighting, nor BJJ competitions. My own personal focus with those students is nothing more and nothing less than just simply teach them to [move] their hips, keeping the arms in, tucking the chin down, leg work and fluidity, posting, vertical and horizontal line familiarity, weight applications, leverage, weight distribution, balance, being slippery, strength development, controlling arms, controlling legs, tight positional transitions, stickiness, cervical control, maintaining knee on stomach, positional escapes, getting to fundamental positions, dynamics of positional maintainance, stamina, respiratory and muscular endurance, coordination, sensitivity, breathing, functional reflex, and so on………..
Do we really believe that if a student has got all the above elements down, at a very high level, he or she would not be able to take care of themselves in the street or in competition?!! Forget the knives and sticks and mass attacks and all the rest for a moment. There are fundamental physical laws that everyone needs to develop first before they concern themselves with street or competition settings, because they are universal potential rules and laws that you MUST develop anyway in order to be successful in either street altercations or in competition settings. After several years of learning the concepts of positioning, and developing [impeccable] timing, reflex, positional defense and offence, then it would be ok to ask how do I adapt my attributes and strategies to someone who may be punching me on the ground, or how should I move my hip if such a such a kick is aimed at my head while in someone’s guard. But regardless of what scenario you come up with, those universal rules and potential abilities must get developed regardless of what settings you are being placed under. Street and competition settings ARE somewhat different (I get it), but they do not come from two different universes and separate realities. They are simply an [extension] of each other. I personally do not compartmentalize them at all. They are both the same branches of the same tree and their [essential] substance is exactly the same, even though one looks a bit different from the other. They both are nourished from the same root and the same soil, and they both get their ultimate energy from the same sun. We should not waste our time on compartmentalization, but rather think of Jiu-Jitsu more holistically, and as an “art and science” just like grand master Jigorō Kanō had envisioned Judo:
“Judo should be free as art and science from any external influences, political, national, racial, and financial or any other organized interest. And [all things connected with it] should be directed to its ultimate object, the benefit of Humanity.”
-Jigoro Kano (Judo Memoirs)
If you have any questions about this topic or any other, contact me at 489-489-7202 or if you are in the Arizona, please stop by.