Does Jiu-Jitsu Need Saving?

About nine months ago I became disenchanted with the current state of BJJ competition as I see it. Flash to now and World Champion Rafael Lovato Jr., someone of far greater experience and pull in the community has voiced similar concerns. We are not connected in this mind you. I'm not comparing myself at all, I just find it interesting that someone of his level is voicing similar thoughts as a shlub like me.

In a podcast posted today (which I'll link later), Rafael went on to detail how disenchanted he was by this year's IBJJF Pan Am Championships (which took place just a day after my article outlining how advantage points are destroying the game...weird...).

He said that the performances were unlike anything he had ever seen before and that competitors were only rolling toward advantages and stalling. They were focused more on not losing instead of winning.

In short, he was disgusted by the game.

I found something very interesting, but I want to play a game first.

Does jiu-jitsu need saving?

Isn't it pretty obvious that jiu-jitsu is evolving? The IBJJF majors have been around for less than 20 years, yet the popularity and rate of evolution has skyrocketed. Not only that but the game, the positions, the attacks, they have all evolved.

How long did it take for changes to implement in football or baseball or basketball?

The shot clock was added to basketball to slow the game down.

Helmets were added in hockey and football to add to safety.

Games have always evolved and will always evolved and when they do, they are always met with those who oppose change.

I heard a story once about the last NHL goalie to start wearing a face mask. Yes, goalies used to not wear face masks. He was so against it that he refused to wear one until the league forced him. His coach believing it was the best for him made him an agreement. Every time a puck hit his facemask, they would make a stitches mark. By the end of the season the mask was almost completely black.

Probably saving the man's life.

Change isn't always welcome, but that doesn't make it for the good of all competing.

In the podcast, Rafael quoted passages from a book on being a samurai and always going for the kill, that we owe it to our opponents to always put forth our best, not just enough to win.

Except that we aren't warriors. We don't kill people. This isn't medieval f***ing japan. This is a game.

You may hate elbows in MMA, too, but they are legal, within the rules and no less an effective way of winning.

This is a f***ing game.

Maybe I believe all this. Maybe you do too.

Maybe not.

What I found most interesting about the podcast was the answer to the question I have had for a long time: when did it all change?

The argument, and the best one I've heard, is that it all started to change when Worlds moved to the United States. Suddenly the market is bigger, the exposure is bigger, the chances for endorsements are bigger.

Money started to come into play. Now it is about the win. Winning is what matters more than anything.

Those old battles with Wallid or JJ or even BJ were f***ing brutal. They fought like animals for the win.

Now the sponsors are watching. Even blue belts have sponsors to answer to now and medals are all they want to see. It doesn't matter if you win by points or submission. Winning is winning.

People know the names of blues and purples and browns as well as black belts now. Ranks are held back more and more to make the best competitors into dominators. Now new black belts are standing atop podiums almost immediately. How can that be? How can Keenan be that good?

Has America helped destroy Brazilian jiu-jitsu?

All this is just conjecture. You love the game or you don't. You accept the changes or you don't.

And make no mistake, the game has changed.

But does it need to be saved?

For the full podcast, go to:

What do you think?