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BJJ PHILOSOPHY
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BJJ PHILOSOPHY

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Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has become one of the world's most comprehensive Martial Arts. The evolution of BJJ has gone from the cut throat concepts of Helio's early combative system, to the extremely complicated art of the lapel guard, berimbolos and inverted heel hooks. There are many different concepts in Jiu Jitsu but in essence it has a simplistic philosophy. Practitioners can have vastly different philosophies, as each instructor has built their own ideology off the back of their lineage combined with their own creative ability.

What This Article Covers:

The brazilian jiu jitsu fighting style is simple in its foundation but is also complicated with many of its technical components. Some of the concepts involved are easy to understand and are as simple as push and pull. Following a strong philosophy in Jiu Jitsu is extremely important in building a strong fundamental base for a practitioners' game style. Executing technical proficiency is more than just being flawless and precise, it is also about strategy. Just like in a game of chess, the player that utilises the most strategic moves ie. "a strong philosophy" will catch the king in the choke.

Gordon Ryan is arguably the sport of BJJ's greatest competitor.  Understanding the mental game is said to be 75% of the foundation to success.  Learn how Gordon Ryan harnesses the powers of his mind!

philosophy of bjj

 

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BUILDING A STRONG PHILOSOPHY IN BJJ

Having a good philosophy in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu goes far beyond the use of complicated techniques. Practitioners must adopt a philosophy that will help them become better in all aspects of their life. Becoming a champion in the art of BJJ starts with the simple things, like looking after your own health. To live well is to eat well, as a practitioner should be fuelling their body with the right foods to help balance out their performance. It's only then that the body is able to function in tune with the person's mind and spirit. The Gracie clan believed in spirituality, as the founder of jiu jitsu Helio Gracie suggested in his teachings. A practitioner must be in tune with their own spirit, and how they perceive the world around them. Rickson Gracie knew this well, as he embodied the true philosophies of Jiu Jitsu that was passed on by the Kodokan Judo Master, Mitsuyo Maeda.

Following a strong philosophy is all about the way a practitioner shows their character. Showing empathy and humility are key components of a truly integral practitioner. It is easy to respect a Black belt or the instructor of an academy, but showing a first day beginner the same respect is crucial in becoming the best version of yourself. Using the philosophy of Jiu Jitsu means to use it everywhere in your life, meaning how you treat other people in society. Life can be full of hurdles, so using the same problem solving from Jiu Jitsu in a real life scenario, is where you want to elevate your ideology to. Once practitioners can reach this level of sensitivity and understanding, they will be able to see more clearly the pathway to becoming a champion in their sport.

MAEDA'S OLD JAPANESE PHILOSOPHY

Mitsuyo Maeda learnt the philosophy of life and Martial Arts off of Kano Jigoro, a famous Japanese educator and Martial Artist. Mitsuyo became a Martial Artist and a prize fighter who prided himself on his outlook on life. He was a man of outstanding character who would help many of his fellow countrymen face adversity in the early 1900's in Brazil. Mitsuyo heavily believed in spirituality and being an honourable person. It was never about the win for Mitsuyo, instead it was about challenging himself and being outside of his comfort zone. This was how Mitsuyo was able to embody the spirit of a warrior, and become a formidable Martial Artist. Mitsuyo did not just teach Martial Arts, but he taught particular philosophies about the nature of combat. Mitsuyo saw the art of combat in a very strategic way  which is what made him such a good teacher. Practitioners would have to look past what they could see on the outside, and use what was buried deep on the inside. Mitsuyo was a major influence on many jiu jitsu principles that the Gracie family believed in, as he passed on his beliefs and ideologies to Carlos and Helio Gracie.

Mitsuyo believed in three core principles, the first being Ju No Ri, which translates into gentleness. This means to utilise the flow of how things work, and execute with a calming of the mind. This is how Mitsuyo would stay safe in a volatile situation. The second core principle was Jita Kyoei, which translates to the safety of all mutual parties. This means in the spirit of training that all students should be allowed to train safely and benefit from the teachings of the class. The third core principle was Seiryoku Zenyo, which translates to achieving maximum efficiency without using too much energy. The lesson here was to envision the best purpose of whatever it is you are intending to do, and use the energy of the body and the mind to maximise the efficiency in achieving the purpose. These principles were carried on from Kano Jigoro before being passed down to Mitsuyo Maeda, and then to the Gracie clan.

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THE GRACIE WAY

Everybody talks about the Gracie clan because they were Jiu Jitsu royalty, as the four Gracie Brothers Carlos, Oswaldo, Gastao, George and Helio, all lived by an amazing philosophy in life. Helio was all about eating healthy and keeping a good balance in his life, that is why he swam at the beach every other day. Helio believed in fairness in combat as honour and integrity have always been core principles of his. Helio instilled this in all of his sons, as Rickson embodied the spirit of his father probably more than anyone. The emphasis for Gracie clan members was to get in touch with their spirituality and focus intently on being empathetic and understanding to people in the community. It wasn't all peaches for the Gracie clan household as Helio believed that women in jiu jitsu had no place in a public forum. 

Rickson Gracie broke the cycle when he helped Yvonne Duarte create the first ever women's division in IBJJF world championship history. Helio was not impressed, but it signified that change was coming. This has been further evolved by Rener and Ryion Gracie from the Gracie University. As they have built a comprehensive and reputable self defense program, which is tailored to women, children and adults. The women's empowered program is a series of self defense techniques designed to help women of all ages and sizes become confident in their own lives. They have also had outstanding success with the Gracie combatives program, which they have taught to civilians and law enforcement agencies across the United States.

BAD PHILOSOPHIES

There are plenty of mistakes or bad habits that practitioners will usually make. It is quite common to see beginners start their journey off on a bad note, as they can often become egotistical. Practitioners must be accepting of all members in the academy, if they show favouritism or unkindness towards anyone they will begin to grow bad habits. Nobody likes a mat bully so it is important to be a gentleman on and off mats. If a student builds their foundations off of bad philosophy, then they are setting themselves up for failure. Another aspect where practitioners can be caught showing signs of bad philosophy, is whether their ego allows them to submit. Practitioners cannot learn if they don't make mistakes, so if a student does not tap when they are stuck in a submission, then once again they are destined to fail. Knowing when to tap is an opportunity to learn where you went wrong, and how to objectively make a better decision next time.

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THE PHILOSOPHY BEHIND TRAINING 

It's one thing to have a good philosophy in Jiu Jitsu but another to put it into good practise. Practitioners need to have a strong philosophy behind them, and focus on how they train in their Jiu Jitsu game styles. Working hard is a key component to building an honest and formidable game. Practitioners must be extremely consistent on the mats, as this is the only true way to master their techniques. Practitioners need to be honest with themselves and be open to taking criticism on board, because when a higher belt gives you advice, knowing how to take that advice and improve on it is a skill set on its own. It is also important to not roll to the death every time in a jiu jitsu fight, as a good practitioner will use their time on the mat wisely. A good idea is to set goals and try to achieve them during roll time. This could mean instead of trying to submit an opponent, just working on guard retention instead, or practising passing their guard. Another important step towards good training methods is putting significant time into the warm up drills, as these drills only benefit a practitioner by helping them perfect aspects of their movement. If a practitioner can train the right way, they are giving themselves the best possible chance at building a solid foundation and a good BJJ philosophy.

THE PATHWAY TOWARDS TECHNICAL PROFICIENCY 

Discovering the right pathway towards the perfect game style can be impossible. All practitioners will have a weakness of some sort, but finding your weakness and turning into a strength is how to get closer to the unattainable level. Practitioners will need the right balance of athleticism, knowledge, strategy, and tenacity, if they are going to find their best form. Technical proficiency is achievable through repetition and understanding your own limitations, as it is important to know what a practitioner can and can't do in order to perfect their own game style. A good practitioner will learn how to inject a good philosophy into their technical application. This might be as simple as closing the distance and maintaining pressure, or as complicated as using trickery to bait an opponent into giving up a sweep or a submission. 

Learning basic bjj terminology is also important so a practitioner can fully understand what every aspect of the game means. In order for a practitioner to find the perfect balance of technical proficiency they will also need to understand what moves work for them. Not every technique a practitioner learns will suit their game style, instead they must create their own flow chains and add in their own maneuvers. They may also realise that learning Jiu Jitsu is not as simple as a set of certain techniques, instead in its entirety it is a concept. This means that when a practitioner can understand the basic movement chain of BJJ, then they can basically create their own movements on the back of their strong foundation. Once a practitioner can understand how to create their own pathway, then achieving technical proficiency is easy.

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THE PHILOSOPHY BEHIND TEACHING BJJ

Becoming a good Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioner is completely different to becoming a good teacher of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. It takes a special kind of person to become a great teacher and leader of a BJJ Academy. Good teachers understand how every individual learns within their academy, and will strategise ways to help each of them develop their game styles. Any instructor can teach techniques, but a good coach will teach concepts and philosophy. When an instructor teaches a class, it is a good strategy to utilise analogies or metaphors, as it will help students understand the concepts that good coaches are trying to teach.

Gordon Ryan is arguably the sport of BJJ's greatest competitor.  Understanding the mental game is said to be 75% of the foundation to success.  Learn how Gordon Ryan harnesses the powers of his mind!

philosophy about bjj

A good coach must have patience and show humility as they will often find themselves in tough situations between members. It is extremely hard to separate being a coach from being a business owner, which is why a lot of head coaches let other people run the business because it's too easy to let your emotions takeover. Coaches must also tread carefully when they are teaching techniques to their students. Teaching students a bunch of disjointed techniques can become quite confusing for them. A better idea is to teach to a theme and regularly go over moves that you have already taught before. This is a good idea to help a student retain information and have ample time to perfect their techniques.

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