What is BJJ?
What is BJJ? The obvious answers are it's a martial art, it's self-defense or it's grappling. If you're reading this blog chances are you already know that. This question is actually much deeper than that. What is BJJ on the most basic of levels? Well, the short answer is: BJJ is art meets science. Art meets physics and bio-mechanics to be exact. Why is this important? It's important because it impacts the way we train and the rules of our sport and due to these things it impacts the way we fight by default. Now before we go further, I have to define the sciences I spoke of in the preceding paragraph. Even though physics as defined by Webster is a science that deals with matter and energy and their interactions, for the purposes of this post I will focus solely on the interaction of motion. Bio-mechanics is defined Webster as the mechanics of biological and especially muscular activity(as in locomotion or exercise); also the scientific study of this. Due to this we can define BJJ as follows: The study of the control of the locomotion of the human body within ground grappling involving submission and usually a Gi or Kimono. Why is this important? Bio-mechanics never really change, however, locomotion is a very individual thing that varies from person to person. What makes us move(bio-mechanics) stays the same, but locomotion the way we move is very personal. Some people are more flexible, so it takes longer to finish a kimura simply because they have a wider range of motion. Why is this relevant? According to a recent article posted on graciemag.com it was stated by the president of the Copa Podio that rules were going to be put in place to "punish the use of the lapel guard." The rule which is alluded to as a penalty in the article isn't explicitly stated, but reason given was in short, stalling. I spoke a little about this where I broke down the fight at the WPJJC(Abu Dhabi Pro) between Keenan Corneilus and Paulo Miayo back when they were still brown belts in April of last year. I do agree you must entertain and stalling is boring, but it really comes down to what you consider entertainment. Let's be honest, Jiu-Jitsu is naturally slow and boring, it excites us(practitioners) because we understand the difference between a 4-fingers in grip and a thumb-in grip. We understand the intricacies within the sport and why they are so important. These sentiments were echoed by Keenan in a follow-up graciemag article also on their website. Lapel guard falls under the art branch that I mentioned earlier. We all need to find our own methods of control based on our personal locomotion. If we ban lapel guard we have to ban any variation of high guard, half-guard, or open guard. That means all have left the standard half-guard and standard closed guard. If we do that, we may as well force every instructor to adopt a Grandmaster text and teach with Katas too. What Copa Podio officials should have said was "We don't like lapel guard because it impedes lateral movement." Lateral movement is the most important in all of Jiu-Jitsu. Without lateral movement you wouldn't be able to maintain side control, pass guard, recover guard, take the back, any sweep where your opponent doesn't go straight back or directly over your head would be out of the question and good luck with your takedowns. Banning or penalizing creativity in an attempt to make BJJ exciting is quite futile and will take BJJ the way of Olympic Judo and detract spectators instead of bringing them in. You don't things more entertaining by making them dumber. Educate don't depreciate.