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

Posted by admin

Aug 13, 2015 5:30:00 PM

tanabe_armbar

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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Is a Name-Change Necessary For The Olympics?

Posted by admin

Aug 6, 2015 3:30:00 PM

JJhistory

It’s important to state how far down the line it is before jiu-jitsu can become an Olympic sport. Jiu-jitsu, although growing in popularity globally, pales in comparison to other Olympic and non-Olympic sports. 

Let’s start with the basics: in order for a sport to become an Olympic sport, it should be practiced in a certain number of countries world wide. In actuality, it should not just be practiced, but also organized with its own legitimate governing institution. At the moment, jiu-jitsu is like the wild west – anyone with money and a bit of a reputation can go ahead and start an organization that can attempt to become the new international governing body of the jiu-jitsu world. But between the IBJJF and the World Pro, nothing has truly been able to stand up against those two behemoths of the grappling world. They both have the experience, money, and history. Even then, the IBJJF is not really focusing on any Olympic goals. The United Arab Emirates Jiu-Jitsu Federation (UAEJJF) is at least making the effort to showcase the sport via individual countries. This can allow for the development of the sport in countries outside Brazil, USA, and Japan. At the World Pro we saw plenty of countries like Mongolia and Jordan making real progress. But even with these efforts, it could take decades to reach the same point as judo when it was accepted into the Olympics. 

The fact that most of the world calls the sport “BJJ” is already counter-productive for this cause. Brazilian jiu-jitsu suggests that the sport ‘belongs’ to one country. The sport name should be completely unbiased in its nature but even that presents another issue. 

Worlds-world-jiu-jitsu-championship

Removing the name ‘Brazilian’ would leave us with ‘jiu-jitsu’. In Brazil, ‘jiu-jitsu’ does refer to what everyone else calls ‘BJJ’ but in places like Japan, or in international traditional martial art circles, ‘jiu-jitsu’ refers to the original ancient art that was popularly used by the samurais. This was the broader art that gave birth to not only BJJ, but judo, kendo, and other Japanese combat sub-arts. 

So what to do? Remove the ‘Brazilian’ before ‘jiu-jitsu’ from all major tournament marketing? That could be a good start. The World Pro does not use ‘Brazilian’ in combination with ‘jiu-jitsu’ in any of their marketing because they understand the ramifications of this use pertaining to their goal, which is to create a global organization of jiu-jitsu. However, it seems that the IBJJF does not see this to be an issue, as “Brazilian” remains in their name. They could always change it to IJJF, which would make more sense, except that federation already exists for the original jiu-jitsu (even though it seems to be a very outdated and unused federation when looking at their website).

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Five Grappling Super League Preview

Posted by admin

Jul 30, 2015 12:00:00 PM

Yuri5

In the last couple years, BJJ competition has taken a turn towards a different direction. In addition to having the tournaments we are all so used to, where anyone can compete and test themselves, more “pro” events have been popping up for pure spectating reasons. The most notable of the recent efforts have been created by Copa Podio and Metamoris. Although these two events are different in format, the goal is fundamentally the same – organize entertaining jiu-jitsu matches that people want to see, but also in a way that is a sustainable long term business so more events can be organized in the future. 

Five Grappling Super League has now stepped up to bring its perspective on how these events should be organized and presented. For those of who don’t know, Five Grappling is one of the top tournament circuits in North America, held throughout the year in major cities. They have placed a strong focus on helping North American BJJ athletes showcase their skills against other locals but also against top international BJJ athletes. On August 2nd, they will hold their first pay-per-view event which will include super fights and an eight-person tournament for both men and women – two separate categories. This will be the first time that an organization is making an effort to showcase women’s BJJ on this level. 

The men’s mini tournament is stacked with some talent that you don’t usually see in the spotlight. Five Grappling has created a great opportunity for rising stars to showcase their skill. The eight men participating are Tim Spriggs, Bruno Bastos, Yuri Simoes, Hector Lombard, James Puopolo, Joao Assis, Abraham Marte, and Lucas Rocha. These are all notable athletes, so the question is: who has the best chance of taking home the $10,000 prize money? When taking into consideration all the aspects of age, accomplishments, physical ability, and technique, the overall advantage must go to Yuri Simoes. 

Simoes is one of the youngest of the bunch. In no-gi he is the most accomplished, with Joao Assis as a close second. Both these guys are world no-gi champions. Assis has won the ADCC championship and Yuri won the absolute division at the Worlds. However, if we nitpick and look at the details, Yuri is younger and has been more active lately than Assis, which should give him the advantage. But it won’t be an easy win at all with athletic specimens like Marte and Spriggs in the mix. 

The 8-woman tournament also has a great mix of ladies including Fabiana Borges, Tammi Musumeci, Nyjah Easton, Karen Antunes, Chelsea Bainbridge-Donner, Luiza Monteiro, Mackenzie Dern, and Leanna Dittrich. Most of these names may sound foreign to most of you since the female BJJ scene does not receive nearly as much attention as the men’s, something Five is looking to change. 

Mackenzie Dern is the name that stands out most from this bunch and that’s for good reason, since she won the absolute World Pro title earlier this year, surviving a match against Gabi Garcia. She has, by far, the best chance of winning the $10,000 prize. Luiza Monteiro, another world champion, has the dark horse chance of winning as well. Expect these two to make it to the finals, assuming they are on opposite sides of the bracket. 

The event will also feature two superfights between some household names; Otavio Sousa versus Keenan Cornelius and Joao Miyao versus Gary Tonon.  Not only are these guys some of the top competitors in the world, but you get the whole “America versus the world” vibe from these matches – which is part of Five’s goal, to showcase American talent. Expect the favorites to win, Cornelius and Miyao.

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2015 World Championship Aftermath: Black Belt Male Adult Part 2

Posted by admin

Jun 11, 2015 5:30:00 PM

WorldsPodium

 

Medium Heavy Division:

This year we saw a disruption of the division since Leandro Lo moved up in weight. Either Lo didn’t feel like cutting weight or he wanted a greater challenge – but it doesn’t matter since he won anyway, defeating Alliance’s Tarsis Humphreys in the finals to bump Guto Campos down from second place in 2014 to third place. 

This would be Lo’s fourth consecutive world championship and there is no telling what he could do next. He had a very strong and successful performance at the Abu Dhabi World Pro against Buchecha – a much larger opponent. If Lo keeps this up, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him trying to contend for the heavyweight title just for kicks. He also competed in the absolute division but fell victim to an armbar from Bernardo Faria from Alliance who ended up winning the entire absolute division. 

Heavyweight Division:

Craziness here – the return of Xande Ribero. Xande had won his first heavyweight title in 2004, then had lost it to Robert Drysdale. He then dominated yet again for three consecutive years after that. For the following 7 year stretch after that, the division was won by others like Rodolfo Vieira and Bernardo Faria. But this year, there was no Rodolfo and Faria had gone up a division years before. The path for Xande was clear. 

Xande did it again, this time beating veteran Lucas Leite in the finals. It’s just amazing to see both these veterans still making it to the finals in impressive fashion. Lucas Leite is especially impressive since he is usually much smaller than his opponents. 

Super Heavyweight Division:

This used to be Rodolfo Vieira’s division, but with an injury keeping him out of the scene for 2015, Bernardo Faria was able to take the gold, defeating Gabriel Rocha in the finals. Faria has always been considered one of the top three heavier BJJ fighters in the world alongside Vieira and Buchecha, but has always been bested by those two. This year he had his chance and he took it. 

We also have Igor Silva and Yuri Simoes taking third place on the podium. This is Yuri’s second world bronze medal and he is still young. We can expect him to move up through the ranks as the years pass. 

Ultra Heavyweight Division:

We have an interesting change here since the former champion, Marcus Almeida Buchecha, had injured himself in the preliminary rounds of the championship. Buchecha has been one of the most dominant champions in history with three consecutive absolute titles. Unfortunately, this year that streak had to end due to the injury. This led way for some new placement amongst the medals with Gabirel Lyrio Lucas taking the gold. 

Absolute Division:

There were no surprises here. With the absence of Buchecha and the usual runner up Rodolfo Vieira, the path was open for the next in line, Bernardo Faria, to take the crown. So without surprise, Trans takes the silver. However, we did see Leandro Lo make a mark in the absolute division, winning the bronze medal. It will be interesting to see how he does in later years and whether there will ever be an absolute champion that is below the heavyweight mark.

 

 

 

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2015 World Championship Aftermath: Black Belt Male Adult Part 1

Posted by admin

Jun 9, 2015 11:30:00 AM

YuriWorlds

 

Every year, the entire jiu-jitsu community looks forward to seeing who will become the next world champion, especially at the black belt level. This year, the results are a blend of obvious answers but also a few surprises along the way.

 

Rooster Division:

No surprises here. We have almost the exact same results as last year, except Rafael Freitas from Gracie Barra is the new bronze medalist along with Ivaniel Oliveira who wins bronze again. But it’s Bruno Malfacine who is most impressive here, once again winning the title for a seventh time defeating Joao Miyao yet again in the finals (albeit in a controversial referee’s decision). But at this pace, it’s only a matter of time until Joao will win his title. Bruno will be a tough opponent to defeat, but without Caio Terra in the division for the time being, Miyao will dominate. 

Lightfeather Division:

Without Guilherme Mendes in the picture, Paulo Miyao was able to reach his goal of becoming world champion. Although it’s always unfulfilling for fans to see the absence of the defending champion, it does not take away from Paulo’s achievement – although probably in his mind, he is wishing that he could show the world how he would do this year against Gui. This is a thought that every champion keeps in mind when they win the title; did they really take it away from the previously reigning champ? At the moment it looks like it won’t be happening any time soon, as Guilherme chose to retire and spend his time focusing on his gym and his soon-to-be-born baby. 

Feather Division:

No surprises here whatsoever. The exact same results as last year except we now witness the ascent of Gianni Grippo who placed third, replacing Alberto Paiva from 2014. Mario Reis joins Grippo for bronze and we see Rafa Mendes and Cobrinha battle it out in the finals again, with Rafa coming out on top by 6 points - Cobrinha couldn’t even score a point. However, considering the age gap between the two rivals, Cobrinha doesn’t cease to amaze me. Especially since he is turning 36 years old this year, which makes him 10 years older than Rafa. 

Light Division:

Once again, experience dominates “youth”. Neither Michael Langhi nor Lucas Lepri are actually old, but considering they are both 30, it is impressive that they can stay on top and hold the youngsters at bay. Both Alliance members dominated the division and it was Michael Langhi’s turn to take the gold since Lucas Lepri won the division last year, so in a sense they are both 2015 world champions. I wish we could see the two face-off, but we won’t be seeing that outside their academy. JT Torres also makes a re-appearance at the podium as a bronze medalist, a drop from last year because of Michael Langhi’s performance. 

Middle Division:

Last year, Leandro Lo had won this division. But this year he decided to move up in weight, leaving the crown to this division wide open for the taking. Not surprisingly, Claudio Calasans took it, defeating GF Team’s Vitor Oliveira. Both these competitors are new to the podium this year, bumping down two veterans of the division, Otavio Souza and Victor Estima to bronze.

 

 

 

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