It seems like every week a new grappling federation is popping up and holding tournaments. I think this is both good and bad. Good in the way that our sport is growing in popularity, and bad because with this growth usually comes the watering down of the original intent of the “art”. The original intent of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu was self protection, self protection in the way that a smaller person could defend themselves against a lager attacker. The original intent of Tae Kwon Do was self protection, typically meeting force with force with defensive maneuvers and punching and kicking. With the popularity of Tae Kwon Do tournaments the rules slowly began to change. First the punching began to fade then the contact began to fade. When I trained in TKD we fought when we sparred, there was contact and if the fight went to the ground as most fights do you’d better know how to fight there as well. We didn’t go for points for one simple reason; if you get attacked your attacker will not stop attacking because you scored a point.
While I feel that sport martial arts are good it’s the rules that water down the martial art itself. Traditionally speaking, if you got a black belt it meant you could fight and defend yourself, now if you get a black belt in a martial art designed for competition that meaning isn’t necessarily true. A lot of black belts today have a false sense of security due to the sport aspect of the what they are learning.
Now here’s the issue I have with all the grappling tournaments that are popping up every week, each one has a different set of rules, and much like what happened to TKD this is watering down BJJ. More and more schools have a sport based curriculum (if they have a curriculum at all) and this takes the self protection out of the art. While I agree that for children there are certain things that need to be modified in both training and competition for safety, however adults need to train the art as it was meant to be. Therefore as an adult in competition there should not be limits on the moves and submissions that are (or least least should be) part of every adult BJJ academy curriculum. I realize there is no easy answer to this issue, however I feel it needs to be addressed.
To be continued…