I'm well aware that while I go by the moniker 'bjjmissionary' on this blog, most of the posts have centered around Judo, and not BJJ. This is something I found odd myself and I did some thinking last night while listening to a live jazz performance at 'No Black Tie'
Now, there is definitely no lack of interest on my part in Jits. I have Eddie Bravo's book on the Rubber guard next to my bed, and a Joe Moreira thome on side control nearby as well. I even fell of my bed a few days ago practising a roll-out. So as far as obsessions go...well, I'm a pretty sick puppy
But I have a definite bent towards Judo at the moment in terms of practice and I think I've worked out why.
Judo practice for want of a better word, is more fun. It is ironic as there is a language barrier between myself and most of the players there (they are chinese educated and my spoken cantonese veers between horribly atrocious and incomprehensible). Definitely, it's not the environment - a small, dusty corner dojo that might have been designed in space starved Hong Kong.
Yet, the strangest thing is that I'm pretty sure I enjoy it because of one simple fact. In judo, you can throw people over your shoulder - and they expect to be thrown. Sure, you fight for it not to happen but if it does, no big shakes, no tantrums and you just keep on doing randori. This goes for everybody - from the most senior sensei to the whitest white belt. Throw, be thrown and enjoy it.
This seems to be missing from BJJ. Ironically, I used to hear the slogan "In BJJ, we leave our ego at the door". Sadly, I don't see much of this in reality. I guess because in recent years. BJJ has taken on a very much air of competition and dominance. In a roll, everyone's going for a submission - and that's the money shot.
If you don't get it - you start questioning your validity as a blue, purple or whatever belt. So if your whole sense of self-worth lies on whether someone makes you tap; you get an atmosphere that is as far removed from that idealistic slogan in the first place. You fight the tap out of insecurity, you seek the tap because of it as well.
Please don't argue with me that BJJ is more competitive and that there are competitions, so you have to be more ruthless. Judo is an Olympic sport and there are more full time judo competitors out there compared to BJJers.
When was the last time you gave the tap to someone. Not once, but over and over again? When was the last time a higher belt or an instructor gave you the submission - not in drilling but in sparring? Drilling doesn't count, it allows you to maintain that unspoken power heirachy ("Oh, I let you tap me because it's a drill" ). But in sparring, now the mask comes off and we're going to see what your self-esteem rests on...
So, the most honest thing I can say is that I don't enjoy BJJ as much anymore because of the way it is structured these days. It has become a way for upper middle class kiddies (because it is expensive vis-a-vis other arts) to get their mini-power trip. People talk about being a 'target' when you get your blue belt. Good grief, Where did all this nonsense come from?
I don't remember being a target for anyone when I went up the Judo belt heirachy and I certaintly didn't think that just because I hit brown, that I was within hitting distance of the black belts. In fact, it was the opposite - I suddenly saw them as further away. And the feeling was indeed humbling.
Chris Hauter has been the only BJJ black belt that I've had those positive vibes about as someone who doesn't give a rip about the whole heirachy thing. And sadly, he's seen as flaky as a result in some BJJ circles. I wonder, as a Christian, is this how they saw Jesus? When the crowds exalted him and wanted him to be an earthly king and when he refused to play according to their rules; they called him flaky as well?
A japanese phrase which we use in Judo which I love is: Sore Made
It means "that's all ", "It's over". And it's a lesson that in life, it's good to throw but that sometimes you learn more from being thrown and that at end - it really is the end; so let it go.
One lovely story which I read about goes like this:
In one of the dojo's in the U.K, an amateur Judo player once boasted that he would drop the visiting Japanese instructor in randori that day. His friends laughed and hooted. Why? For the distinguised visitor was none other than Yamashiro Yamashita; the Olympic champion and former 3 times world champion. He was also undefeated for something like 10 straight years. This man was and still is a judo god to many players
During randori, there was a lot of tugging and shoving and suddenly, there was a loud sound. The impossible happened - a god fell to earth. The whole judo went deathly silent, really silent. The champion smiled wryly, brushed himself off, and got up to randori again. It was then said that from then on, the amateur judoka received throw after throw from Yamashita but each time he did so; he was smiling. For that one moment - he had touched the sky, and no matter how many times he came down to earth: he had been where only the gods were, if ever so briefly
Yamashita knew that all men, even Judo gods, were mortal. And sometimes they fell. It's no big deal. You just get up and straigthen your belt.