Old School BJJ

Anytime I hear or read about someone talking about the supposed difference between self-defense oriented BJJ and competition oriented BJJ, I throw up a little in my mouth. Rather than write a lot to explain why, I will show you why I have that perspective. Watch this:

What kind of jiu-jitsu was that? Self-defense? Or sport? Here is the answer – yes, to both. It is just jiu-jitsu, the way it has been trained for 90+ years.

This was how I practiced for years with Professor Megaton Dias. This video was filmed around 1994 and most of it was shot in the old Boys and Girls club backroom south of Bethany Home Road. No windows, no A/C, and not much mercy from the instructor! Please tell me what parts of that were sport only, or were self-defense only. You won’t be able to, because Jiu-Jitsu encompasses all of it.

BJJ is like guitar playing. If you can truly play the guitar, then you can play different things without a problem. It does not take much to play a hard rock riff or solo like Eddie Van Halen, or a jazz line like Pat Metheny, or a classical part like Andres Segovia if you are already good at guitar playing and understand the underlying principles. It is all guitar. The techniques to play one of those are fundamentally the same as one of the others. You may certainly concentrate on one, and not pay much attention to the others, but that is solely on the individual, not the methodology or system.

Further, look at the video again. Note how part of it was filmed at a local karate school that Mega gave a workshop at. Look at the flooring. Carpet, not mats, and thin carpet at that, laid directly on concrete. But wait! That must mean the jiu-jitsu cannot work, because there are no mats. And yet, there they are, doing the techniques with no issue. We also sparred with all the lights off, and sparred in the parking lot. We even had Vale Tudo Friday nights, where we put on gloves and trained.

Note also that how we generally ended up on the ground – by being taken there. No guard pulls, no starting on the knees. We fought for the takedown and continued the fight. And you see the results – that often the fight is ended right away within seconds. THAT is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

So please forgive me when people who have quite literally never ever spent one minute on BJJ mats try to tell me how my art is not about true “fighting”. And all that is why I just laugh when people who have never trained tell me that “fighting on the ground will get you killed in the street”.