17 March 2005
Since, apart from my Mom, only about two other people read this blog, I won't consider myself too pretentious in announcing that last night I was awarded the first degree of my Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Blue Belt, by Gracie-Barra black belt instructor Alexandre Albuquerque, here in Marbella, Spain. That means, two more degrees and it'll be time for a Purple Belt.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu was made famous in the mid/late 1990's when Royce Gracie dominated the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) as an expert in this relatively unknown martial art. He was beating -- not just beating, dominating -- people much bigger than himself, and without hitting or kicking. He systematically took his opponent to the ground, and proceeded to choke or arm/leg-lock his opponents into surrendering.
In the years that followed, BJJ and grappling martial arts have so thoroughly dominated all No-Holds-Barred (NHB) fighting competitions, that practically every combative martial art has today incorporated ground techniques, tending towards a common discipline known as "Mixed Martial Arts." Even having trained in BJJ for nearly four years now, it never ceases to amaze me how easy it is, through the application of just a small set of fundamental positions and moves, to utterly dominate new students who are much bigger, faster and stronger than myself.
For those with a bit of knowledge in martial arts, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu would appear to be a fusion of Judo and wrestling. Whereas in Judo and wrestling, the objective is to pin your opponent, in BJJ, the objective is to force your opponent to "submit" (give up, via tapping the ground or you). You achieve this generally via arm or leg locks, joint locks, or chokes. In BJJ sport competition, you also can win by gaining points for things such as improving your position.
The things I like so much about BJJ include the fact that it's totally reliant on technique, as opposed to physical qualities like strength, speed or flexibility. (However, at the highest level of BJJ competition, physical qualities can certainly provide an edge.) A BJJ match is really very much like a chess match, you generally win by implementing a solid strategy and then catching your opponent in a mistake. I also like that sparring (fighting) in BJJ can be done at almost full effort, with little risk of injury. This aspect makes BJJ a great physical exercise and is one of the reasons it's so effective as a self defence. A real fight is hardly different than training. (At least that's what I'm told. I've never been in a real fight, and don't intend to.)