By Budo Jake
I often hear arguments among BJJ’ers that usually are along the lines of:
“That’s not the REAL BJJ”.
“That wouldn’t work on the street!”
“Only (insert professor’s name) teaches pure BJJ.”
When I look at the statements of each of these guys I realise that in a sense, they are all right. Everyone has their own point of view. We can understand the various points of view in BJJ if we break the practitioners down into three basic personality types:
1. The Self Defence Guy
This self defence guy is only interested in learning “effective” techniques. He defines effective as what would work “on the streets”. He hates guard pulling, thinks spider guard is stupid, and doesn’t even believe in training in a gi. He is adept at groin strikes, eye gouges, and other moves that many BJJ’ers would consider “dirty moves”. His philosophy is simple; the world is a dangerous place and we need to be prepared. He looks at BJJ and picks out the few techniques that fit into his world view. He cares not for the history, the traditions, or the culture of the arts. He believes we should keep what works and discard the rest. He has a negative point of view of BJJ tournaments because, after all, street fights happen when you least expect it and a street fight will look very different from a tournament BJJ fight.
2. The Athlete
The athlete trains harder than the self defence guy or the martial artist. If his schedule will allow, he will train two or even three times a day. He is in top physical shape and competes a few times a year. He is adept at a few moves, but definitely specialises in a handful of moves that work very well for him. He cares about the traditions and culture of BJJ, but not as much as the martial artist. The athlete’s main motivation is to compete. He stays up to date with the latest trending moves. He’s good at inverting and doing other moves that the self defence guy would say are a waste of time. Incidentally, the athlete is in such good physical shape that he would likely have a better chance of success in a street fight than the average self defence guy. Still, the athlete is smart enough to stay out of street fights; he saves his fights for the competitions. He lives a rigid regime of training BJJ, strength and conditioning, and lives a healthy lifestyle, although he might be at risk of overlooking other aspects of his life due to his singular focus on competitions.
3) The Martial Artist
The martial artist cares deeply about the traditions, history, and culture of the BJJ. He likely will teach, either full or part time, as his passion for carrying on the art runs deep. He recognises the need not to stray too far into “street ineffective” technique and might even incorporate striking arts into his training. He is in good physical shape, but might not be in as top condition as the athlete. The martial artist stays up to date with the latest moves and tries to be as well-rounded as possible. Due to focusing on the art as a whole, he doesn’t perform as well in competition as the athlete but he always has an answer when students ask him questions about techniques. The martial artist doesn’t obsess over competing as the athlete does so he probably has a more balanced home and social life.
The above three personality types are generalisations. We probably all know someone who perfectly fits into one of the characterisations. More likely however, you will find guys that fit somewhere in between two of the types, or maybe even all three. My point in writing this article is to show that there is no one “right” approach. Each character type has validity. So the next time you hear someone complaining about something in BJJ, try to identify which perspective they have.
And how about you? Do you identify more strongly with one of the BJJ personality types?