14 Aug 2009

Explaining BJJ

How do you explain your hobby to someone with no knowledge of the sport. Harder still, how do you convince them that what you do is fun, fairly safe and useful too? This was the task set before me as my boss wanted me to write a short article for the staff newsletter explaining what I did out of the office. So here is my piece, apologies for over-simplifying stuff...

MY HOBBY: Once a month, we ask a member of the company to tell us about their interests. This month, Seymour tries to convince us that wearing baggy pyjamas and grappling sweaty men us a pursuit worth doing...

To the outsider, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) looks like nothing more than sweaty grown men wearing pyjamas hugging and rolling around a lot. And I suppose that's precisely what a lot of it is. Obviously there is a lot of skill and technique needed too. I've been doing this martial art for over 6 years now and I train 3 or 4 times a week.

BJJ is a bit of a cross between wrestling and judo. 99 percent of the action happens on the floor, after the contestants have chucked each other around a bit. You are allowed to pin a person down, strangle him, choke him and apply painful force on various joints, but there is no punching or kicking allowed (thankfully!).

It was made famous in the early 1990's when a Brazilian chap called Rorion Gracie thought it would be a good publicity stunt to challenge anyone in any martial art style to a no-rules fight within a cage...winner takes all. He called it the Ultimate Fight Challenge (UFC) and, to the astronishment of everyone except the Brazilians, the BJJ guy (Rorion sent in his younger brother Royce to do the fighting) easily beat up experts from karate, wrestling, judo and many other styles. Fast forward to today and the UFC is a major pay-per-view sport event and BJJ is fast growing around the world.

We're lucky in the UK. Some plucky Brazilians seem to ignore the fact that in Britain, we have rubbish weather compared to Rio de Janiero. In London, we're especially lucky as the 7 times, and still current World BJJ Champion - Roger Gracie - bases his school here. Roger is incredibly famous in the BJJ world. It's the equivalent of taking lessons from Tiger Woods, or Roger Federer, right on your doorstep.

I compete in tournaments roughly once every couple of months, with moderate success. I have won a few and lost many. But the great thing I love about BJJ is the genuine cameraderie between practitioners young or old, big or small - I've even roped the wife into taking part every now and then too. It is an addictive passion that keeps you incredibly fit, could serve as useful self-defence and is very exciting to take part in. Just don't call it hugging in pyjamas!

Roger Gracie Academy: http://www.rogergracie.com/
More about BJJ: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bjj

About the Author


Author & Artist

Meerkatsu is the artist name for BJJ black belt Seymour Yang.



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