I have said it before and I will say it again: what is happening today to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is the same exact thing that happened to Judo decades ago. We are witnessing the transformation of a martial art into a sport. Is that good or bad? Well, it depends on your point of view.
Many “modern” Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu players nowadays rely on unrealistic techniques (using the gi to create points of leverage that would not exist without the uniform – what I call “phantom fulcrums”). Such grips simply do not work in a real fighting situation. Does that mean that BJJ techniques are getting less effective? No, absolutely not. It means that BJJ players are choosing to incorporate into their games techniques that may not be effective in self-defense or Mixed Martial Arts situations. When using a gi is not a reality. When stalling for points is not a possibility. When striking and punishing your opponent is a must. When “advantage” points due to a half-hearted submission attempt do not count for anything.
It is my personal opinion that BJJ is a martial art, and not a sport. I personally don’t focus much on the sport aspect of it, especially nowadays. However, I respect those who are more sport-oriented in their training than I am. That doesn’t mean that they are wrong and I am right. It just means that our training focus is slightly different. I don’t teach techniques that I believe will not work in a realistic scenario. I do not teach “wrapping the gi” around your opponent. I do not teach “using the belt” all the time. I do not teach the latest fancy-named 20-step sweep either. I do not teach “stalling from the closed guard” and I do not teach “fighting for points or advantages”.
Unlike what many believe, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is not “done”. I find it funny when people say things like that, while at the same time they are drilling armbars and learning how to counter a triangle. If BJJ is no longer a threat, why bother? Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is more present in today’s MMA world than 10 years ago. If you don’t want to believe me, just look at the limiting anti-grappler rules that are constantly being implemented!
I am not saying Jiu-Jitsu is the universal answer to our prayers either. Our style has many, many limitations (no striking, poor takedowns, etc.) that we should be constantly aware of. However, it is still the only style that I know of that can provide great self-defense skills to its practioners while relying on little athleticism on their part. And that’s saying a lot.
We have to be careful… “modern” Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a trend. Everybody wants to jump on the bandwagon and train the most “up-to-date” complicated techniques. Don’t try to fit in, and stick with what you believe is right for you.