Is a Name-Change Necessary For The Olympics? (Part 2)

Posted by admin

Aug 13, 2015 5:30:00 PM

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In part one of this discussion, we discussed how the ‘B’ in BJJ is possibly counterproductive for any Olympic goals. But even without “Brazilian” in the name, we have the problem where there can’t be two jiu-jitsu disciplines if one is to become an Olympic sport. It needs a more unique name, but it seems that ship has sailed.

We couldn’t expect the Gracie founders to think this far ahead when they readapted the art in Brazil. Of course with hindsight, it would have been better if they just thought of a more original name instead of just assuming it was called ‘jiu-jitsu’. Yes, technically all Japanese martial arts are rooted somewhat from jiu-jitsu and can be called as such. But historically, Count Maeda wasn’t a jiu-jitsu practitioner. He was a judo master and his teachers were Jigoro Kano and Tomita Tsunejiro, the founder and his senior disciple. Jigoro Kano was also a jiu-jitsu master, but again, if Maeda was fundamentally teaching the Gracies judo, why did they call it jiu-jitsu? Why not call it judo? But I guess we’d all call it Brazilian Judo afterwards, which would the sport in the same position as it is now.

Ultimately, the problem is the originality of the name. Any other Japanese name could have worked. For one, ‘ne waza’ would not have been a bad idea, considering that’s what jiu-jitsu is - it’s groundwork or ground fighting. That would have been a literal description of the sport and would still sound quite cool while being unique at the same time. It’s a pity that after all that BJJ has been through, one of the many things potentially stopping it from becoming an Olympic sport can be as basic as its actual name. There is only one boxing, only one judo and only one tae-kwon do; but there are two jiu-jitsus, and this is the reality of the situation.

The other option is to dismiss and ignore traditional jiu-jitsu completely, for competition purposes. While it is widely practiced across the globe, there doesn’t seem to be any serious attempts to popularize traditional jiu-jitsu as a sport by any of their federations.

So again, what to do? It could only be something drastic and basically impossible. After everything that the sport has been through, including its role in MMA, it would seem to be a shame to even attempt something like a name change to differentiate the sport from the traditional martial art to help with it’s recognition as an Olympic sport. On the flip side, the same could be said for traditional jiu-jitsu versus Brazilian jiu jitsu. As BJJ continues to grow, perhaps the meaning of “jiu-jitsu” will just replace itself. People may begin to identify it as BJJ and not the traditional form, much the same as how MMA replaced “NHB” (no-holds-barred) and, to some extent, Pankration. 

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Topics: BJJ in Everyday Life, Tournament News

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