If you’ve paid attention to cartoons ever in your life; especially the guys, you would have watched at least one episode of Dragon Ball Z (DBZ). In short, Dragon Ball is an anime – a type of Japanese styled cartoon – that depicts the life of Goku, a fictional character that is loosely based on the Chinese myth and legend of the ‘Monkey King’ and Hinduism’s Hanuman. Also, similarly to Marvel’s Superman, Goku was an alien that landed on earth as a baby and became its greatest protector. However, unlike Superman, Goku did not develop his godly fighting powers as easily. This is where the connection with the jiu-jitsu lifestyle can be made.
Dragon Ball Z is by no means deeply story-based like many other anime. However, many jiu-jitsu practitioners are not just fans of the show because of childhood nostalgia, they can relate to the trials of Goku and his friends and the way they face them. When the earth is threatened by an evil, it is always stronger than Goku. However, through hard training and sheer determination, he always wins. This is one very powerful mentality one should have when they do jiu-jitsu, especially if they want to be champion. You can’t always defeat your opponents through sheer talent. You win because you train hard and when you’re down, you get back up to keep fighting or training.
Dragon Ball is actually a very slow paced anime. There are a lot of “filler” episodes that don’t have much to do with the story line. However, these fillers can be more entertaining for jiu-jitsu guys because they usually show the lifestyle of these fictional fighters that should be mimicked by jiu-jitsu athletes. For example, whenever any of the characters have a spare moment, you can see them fitting in some pushups or sit-ups. Or, when Goku is training hard, preparing for a tournament or bad guy, you will see him fitting in a lot of sleep and a ton of nutritious food. There is even a scene where he opens his fridge and notices his selection of beverages. His options are beer and sports drinks. He grabs the beer first, looks at it in confusion and says “no, this won’t do” and tosses it away so he can grab the “sports drink”. It’s small details like this throughout the whole series that makes it a pleasure to watch for us, especially for children that train. Cartoons are a great way of communicating values to kids and Dragon Ball should be at the top of the list.
I’ve only touched on the connection between Dragon Ball and the jiu-jitsu lifestyle, but if you haven’t ever watched it, give it a chance. If you have children and they haven’t watched, especially if you have son(s), give it a chance. Top martial arts athletes in jiu-jitsu and MMA have paid homage to Dragon Ball in fun different ways. Carlos Newton became famous for his ‘Kamehameha’ attack at the end of all his victories in the UFC and PRIDE. Ronda Rousey has spoken about her love for the anime in interviews many times. And lastly, the old school TT (Terere and Telles) academy, had a giant DBZ toy collection at the entrance of their school. You can see it in the Arte Suave documentary.