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High Rollerz Jiu Jitsu - Events to Avoid or a Natural Evolution?

High Rollerz Jiu Jitsu - Events to Avoid or a Natural Evolution?

Jiu Jitsu's complicated relationship with marijuana.

High Rollerz tournament has been making waves within the Jiu Jitsu community. Although the first event was held in June and the second was held in September, the tournaments are still garnering a significant amount of attention.

The HighRollerz’s website describes the events as, “High Rollerz BJJ is a cannabis-infused Jiu Jitsu tournament created by 'Big Lonn' Howard & 'Mighty Matt' Staudt. Our goal is to formally merge the worlds of martial arts and cannabis and work to destygmatize the natural substance by showing top-level, world-class athletes technically competing after having consumed cannabis. We know that cannabis is a natural tool that can be used to help human beings in many ways and we feel the most physically fit people in the world who normally consume it are the best examples to the masses. We also strive to help connect athletes with CBD and cannabis brands so that they can find sponsorship support to continue professionally fighting. Lastly, we hope to spread the amazing art of Jiu Jitsu to those who may not have been exposed to it before as well as provide a fun alternative to the current Jiu Jitsu tournament options!”

Or put another way, in a submission only event, competitors smoked marijuana before a match started and between rounds. They competed for a pound of high quality marijuana as a prize.  It should be noted that marijuana is legal where the events were held.

Some in the Jiu Jitsu community have offered criticisms. These are some common themes among the criticisms: These events set a poor example to children. Helio Gracie would turn over in his grave. It is disrespectful of the values of Jiu Jitsu and Jiu Jitsu itself.  

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Others have countered that it is up to a child’s parents to control what their children see. Marijuana has always been a component of the Jiu Jitsu community. Marijuana should be destigmatized and is not disrespectful.

These events highlight the divide on marijuana in the Jiu Jitsu community and the country as a whole. Staudt, one of the events creators, stated in an interview with Playboy magazine, “That’s what makes me so indignant now, I don’t take any pharmaceuticals, I don’t drink alcohol, I eat really healthy. I’m a clear-headed, functional, healthy person. I’ve found cannabis to be a performance enhancing drug. It’s such a positive tool when used and understood correctly.” Rodrigo Comprido, who needs no introduction, is quoted on BJJEE website saying, “Those are all substances that we could do perfectly well in life without. I never smoked a cigarette or used marijuana in my life, and I never will. First of all, I do not want to put myself in a position to become addicted to something besides jiu-jitsu, and something that has negative effects on your whole life. Secondly, marijuana is illegal, and I will not break the law just to have a couple of laughs. I have drank alcohol in moderation on a few occasions, but you have to be careful because one person under the effects of alcohol can majorly impact the lives of others. These are not the kind of people who come to work with me.”

It is definitely out of the scope of this article to summarize all of the arguments for or against these events, marijuana use or even to take a position on it. It would be foolish for this article to reconcile the divide on marijuana in the Jiu Jitsu community.

What should be obvious to everyone is we all want to protect Jiu Jitsu. That is the impetus for such fierce debates on High Rollerz events. For people who do not train, it is hard to understand the profound impact Jiu Jitsu has had on our lives. We all want to respect that impact and ensure Jiu Jitsu is here for generations to come.   How Jiu Jitsu should be protected should be balanced with the fact that Jiu Jitsu is evolving in both cultures and techniques. How to protect Jiu Jitsu, while recognizing that evolution is inevitable, is a much deeper subject. Perhaps that is a conversation for a later time.

Another thing appears certain. High Rollerz events are not stopping any time soon. Their website state, “We will soon be launching a number of regional qualifier tournaments in order to allow more people to compete with us but also in order to create our next show’s bracket with the winners.”

What are your thoughts? Are events like High Rollerz good for the sport? Is there real danger in events like this or is it a refreshing contrasting to other tournaments?

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