Every year we see how jiu-jitsu grows both on an external and internal level. What does this mean? Externally we see the push that jiu-jitsu leaders make to the public – the non-practitioners.
One thing in particular is the participation of celebrities in the sport. Most notable of these is Anthony Bourdain. For those who are unfamiliar with him, he is best known as the host in several food travel shows on CNN and is is an accomplished chef and writer.
Overtime, he and his wife Otavia have dedicated themselves to jiu-jitsu on a level that would warm all our hearts, as they have truly become ‘mat rats’ – it seems like they train whenever possible. And Anthony Bourdain as a traveler has shown that he will not skip training when he is abroad. But when at home he trains at Renzo Gracie’s academy.
In other celebrity news, you can also see how veterans such as Rigan Machado are constantly showing the connection that other celebrities have to the sport. In Rigan’s case, Ashton Kutcher and Keanu Reeves makes appearances more often than others.
In 2015 this celebrity connection only grew further with more and more appearances. With the continuing growth of the UFC, their champions reached celebrity status and attract the public to the fight culture. By association, jiu-jitsu grows as well.
So what is the overall implication of this celebrity growth in 2015? Well, academy owners will feel the impact of this the most. Every time Anthony Bourdain mentions jiu-jitsu on one of his shows, there are literally millions of people watching and digesting that information. As the referrals to jiu-jitsu are repeated, people begin to take notice and in combination with the growth of the UFC, people will walk into academies to see what all the hype is about - this brings them into our world.
On the same note, apart from celebrity influence in the jiu-jitsu community, the Abu Dhabi Jiu-Jitsu Federation is making a huge effort to let the public know about the ‘gentle art’, especially in 2015. For the World Pro and Grand Slam tournaments, they posted advertisements within every hosting city. Airports, buses, and other public areas received these ads. They make the event seem like a spectacle for everyone, not just jiu-jitsu practitioners. Over time, this will make heads turn as people start to see it year after year.