Are you a Jits-ist?

First, get over whatever little proclivities you might have about referring to jiu-jitsu as jits.



So, the question remains, are you a jitsist? In other words, do you have some kind of unfounded or deep-seeded resentment towards another lineage of BJJ?

Are you a Gracie roller that hates Machados? Are you a Machado roller that hates Gracies? There is a name for that: jitsist (I just made it up but hope to one day have a wikipedia reference).

Here is a simple test:

- Have you ever heard a rumor about a rival BJJ family and assumed it was true without looking into it?

- Have you ever spread a rumor about a rival BJJ family because it "just sounded like something they would do"?

- Have you ever avoided a fellow grappler because of the patch they wore?

- Have you ever assumed that because you had a run in with one overly aggressive grappler, that they all must be like that? The entire family and all?

- Have you ever bad-mouthed another gym because they are a different affiliate, but made up another excuse like they roll too hard or their instructors suck?

- Have you ever avoided another competitor or laughed at them because of the color of their gi?

(Disclaimer: yes, I realize the proximity these questions have in terms of racism, sexism and homophobia. This article is meant to humorous as well as point out how stupid we all act from time to time. Deal with it.)

If you answered yes to any of these questions, yes, you are a jitsist. Or at least you used to be.

I don't understand this phenomenon. At least not in Minnesota. We are so far removed from not only Brazil, but also the coasts, that for the life of me, I can't figure out why we carry on these feuds that have absolutely no impact on who we are.

I have rolled at a great number of gyms around Minnesota and Wisconsin and I have competed against even more, and with few exceptions, I don't have bad experiences with them.

Here is the worst case scenario: a grappler went too hard in a competition and either didn't let up a submission fast enough or did an illegal move (like slam a locked-in triangle attempt).

Do you know what these behavior means? It means that grappler, and only that grappler, is a douche.

Yes, there is a chance that this reflects on the gym or his instructors, but it isn't your place to make that assumption. Unless you go to that gym and their defense for a triangle is a Rampage Jackson style slam, you can't place the blame on an entire school.

And it can be difficult. There are a lot of assholes out there. Not only ones that have affiliate patches, but especially the ones that don't. The ones that claim they are a purple, brown or *gasp* black belt, but are just posers.

Of course, what does this mean for the affiliate if the gym owner or instructors or entire comp team are douches?

Again, nothing.

As a people, we grapplers want to think that we are doing everything in a superior manner. Our techniques and flow charts are better. Our instructors are more learned. Our comp teams win more metals. That is what we want to think.

The reality is that the only thing that matters in this sport is that we support it and show what incredible competitors and human beings we can be. That we can come within millimeters of breaking a limb or even suffocating someone, but show that we have the skill to check it.

That we can be fierce competitors, but still give each other a hug and handshake after wards. The animosity left on the mat in a pool or sweat. There only to be wiped up and lost forever.

If you haven't ever rolled in another gym, talked to another instructor or even tried to see things from a different colored gi, then shut the f*** up.

We are bound by this sport. It is still a fledgling sport. We pray that it will make it to the Olympics. We pray that it will get so popular that we can get sponsors and live our lives doing it. We pray to get better venues with more than a single bathroom for 200 competitors.

But if we keep fighting amongst ourselves because of rumors and the quest for more students, we are only hurting each other. We are adding fuel to a fire we did not light.

Is there a "best"? Well, let's check the competition flow chart:

Rickson Gracie beat Rigan Machado. However, Ron Tripp beat Rickson Gracie and Rigan Machado beat Ron Tripp.


Okay, Royce Gracie brought BJJ mainstream through his dominations of UFC 1, 2 and 4 (withdrawing from UFC 3 only because of injury). However, Matt Hughes TKO'd Royce in an MMA fight and Wallid Ismail put him to sleep in a BJJ comp.

Crap, what else... what else?

Okay, Eddie Bravo tapped Royler Gracie at the ADCC. Of course, then he got worked by Leo Viera in the finals and never competed again.


Well, Robert Drysdale tapped Marcello Garcia to win the ADCC absolute. Then he got beat by Jacare at the following Superfight.

Jacare got dominated by Roger Gracie... wait! There it is! Roger Gracie (who isn't really a Gracie, but that is or another post). He has dominated almost every competition the last five years.


In that time span he has three losses, all to Alexandre "Xande" Ribeiro.

Damn it!

Sure, this actually goes on and on and on, these are just the ones I could name off the top of my head. Some one always loses. That's the game. There is no best. There are just those that are a little (or a lot better) than the rest of us.

Look where we are: Machado, Gracie, Nth Dimension, 10th Planet, Guerrilla, the list goes on and it is still growing. Let's leave the rivalry with the rivals.

Go ahead, if you need to judge me for something, judge me for my religious beliefs or my political stance or by the brand of beer I drink and the toppings I put on my pizza. But please, don't judge me for the patch I have on my gi.

Don't be a jitsist.