Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, such a unique journey. How do you play the game? What’s your strategy? Do you pull or pass? Do you prefer to play open or closed…top or bottom? However you choose to play, practitioners are consistently working to figure out the many twists and turns of an unyielding labyrinth from one position to the next, one competition to the next, and one belt level to the next. Advice comes at you from all sides along the way but advancing will still depend on hard work, determination, and staying the course. Like in all things, you get what you give. The theory in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is that the little guy can have the advantage if they utilize their skill set the proper way. However, with any sport individuals find other ways to try and tip the scale in their favor that one may or may not consider questionable. Does this produce a more diluted environment making Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu seem FAR less competitive? If you master your skill level showing your pride in that accomplishment, being hungry for more, and moving on to conquer the next level, isn’t that what one looks forward to? How you play the game matters!
Sandbagging or playing down ones skill level in order remain at a belt level that is not commensurate with ones abilities is one way some play the game. Whether it is the individual or the individual’s gym it is something that is difficult to monitor and regarded as HIGHLY unethical in the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world. If one is forced or chooses to down play their skills and remain stagnant are they cheating themselves or the entire process? If Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is the ULTIMATE game of chess, what exactly does one learn by remaining in the position of the rook? If you don’t advance in a job, in many places you are fired for failure to meet and surpass objectives. Being held back in school has a negative stigma attached to it. If you take part in a competitive sport (EMPHASIS on competitive), are intentionally held back, or allow yourself to be held back to get some sort of a competitive edge does it then attach a negative connotation to you or the sport?
If stalling is part of ones strategy from the moment they get the dominant position beginning, then wouldn’t that make the entire reasoning behind Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu moot? Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu started out as submission only. (ref: IBJJF rules 6.5 for some examples) Stalling may not have been a huge issue then. Now, there are penalties associated with stalling but there are still subtle ways around those. The extra time individuals take to fix their belts as well as that extra moment individuals take to get back into position when the ref stops the clock are well known and understood ways to catch a quick breath during a match. Timed matches can lose momentum with an unexpected disruption. One could take longer than necessary to retie a belt. Does it matter if the belt is tied? Can it be moved out of the way so it does not become a safety issue once it has become untied? Stopping a match for safety is one thing, undue delay for cosmetic reasons could be deemed unnecessary. Does one really need to fix their belt in the middle of the match?
Stalling can remove the advantage or momentum that a person may have gained while giving another time to regroup, time to think and better access a situation. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is not like most sports. It does not have a half time or quarters or innings no break at all except the one the ref gives when the match is stopped or if a practitioner knows how to stall. It is an explosive battle that takes place for a pre-determined amount of time. Stalling can drag that battle out. You can’t transition from one positon to the next if you are being held in a perpetual state of arrested development intentionally. If that is ones purpose when in class or attending competitions, are you helping or hurting your teammates and fellow competitors? Are your helping or hindering progress? Are you wasting your time and everyone else’s?
In basketball if you remain in the post too long you get called for a 3 second violation and the other team gets the ball. In basketball, an individual has roughly 12 seconds with the ball before they must pass or the other team gets the ball. In basketball there is a shot clock. You have to make decisions quickly and game flow can be controlled better. Is it possible to institute a more efficient way of minimizing stalling in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?
Weight loss or cutting is another advantage practitioners seek out in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Fighters of all sorts lose weight to ensure they are within standards for their competition. The Gi and patches on it often factor into the weight loss decision. Gis can weigh anywhere from 2 to 4 pounds but one must also consider how many patches are on them and that will affect the weight of the Gi. Competitors may have to lose a few pounds depending on the weight of their Gi. A few pounds is not a huge deal one would not think. If the point of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is to prove its effectiveness based on the principles that you can use a person’s body weight against them to gain the upper hand, Gi notwithstanding, does it matter what you weight is? A competitive sport like Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is all about the challenge, right? Well everyone has their own reasons for why they do what they do. Weight loss to accommodate ones Gi makes since. However, weight loss so that one can be more competitive is not the traditional type of weight loss or dieting for a competitive edge, it is cutting “the rapid loss of weight during before a tournament, often involving fluid and/or food restriction”-Samuel Spiegelman.
Wrestlers, boxers, the list goes on for the individuals that have to make weight for their sport. In wrestling and boxing at the collegiate and pro levels these athletes have a team of trainers, physicians, and experts that are suppose to ensure their health and weight is at a certain level and maintained before their matches. For the most part Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioners are left to their own devices and do things their own way. Do they consult physicians before they decide to compete for a clean bill of health? Do they speak to physicians regarding supplements or diets? In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu there is not much, if any, monitoring when it comes to cutting and there is not concrete evidence or many if any studies proving that there has been a competitive edge on any front when cutting is involved. So if you are cutting in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in order to gain one leg up on your opponent hopefully you are consulting a physician and properly dieting over the course of a year. If one is not competing in their own weight class, does that mean they don’t believe in the principles Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu was based upon or that they are testing their limits in the sport at different levels?
The only studies that link combat sports and cutting are the long term damages. “This is the biggest problem in combat sports,” said Andy Foster, executive officer of the California State Athletic Commission. “Five or 10 percent of people are doping. The number of people dehydrating is much, much higher… [Weight cutting is] a traumatic event. Then the very next day, you combine that with another traumatic event, and that’s called a fight. Combine these two things, and you’re just asking for trouble.” If there is a competitive advantage associated with cutting in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu then once an individual has proven their point what’s left to prove? What is the point of the open weight division? If one cuts weight for an advantage, is their reasoning discredited if they then compete in an open weight division?
Sports are meant to be competitive. Sports are a billion dollar industry many times over and cheating is harshly sanctioned. People are disgraced, fined, suspended, banned, and the ultimate price is not being allowed admittance into the Hall of Fame after playing and being revered for years in a sport. The worst case scenario, depending on how you cheat in a sport is death. Your record should speak to the reputation you have established along the way. Cheating can be difficult to prove in this particular sport. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a martial art not a mediocre one. How you play the game directly ups the ante for you and your opponent or bring things to a screeching halt. What you do and how quickly you do it affects flow. It’s move and counter or checkmate. Whether it is at practice or in a tournament you are an important piece to a much larger puzzle. Show respect, have integrity, represent your team, and give your opponent the challenge they deserve. How you play the game matters!
Deneatra M Terry (Dee Nee truh)
Girls in Gis Staff Writer
Deneatra resides in Texas (for now). A lifelong anarchist/inner peace Seeker (irony duly noted).
Proud mommy of 2 boys, all train under Bruno Alves & Jason Yerrington at Ohana Academy
Stone Oak in San Antonio, Texas.