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Is the Evolution of Jiu Jitsu a Good Thing or Should it be Avoided?
Does Jiu Jitsu as an art grow organically over time?
Early in my Jiu Jitsu career, I heard two different philosophies regarding Jiu Jitsu. The first was, “I want to teach and preserve Jiu Jitsu the exact way it was taught to me.” The second was, “Jiu Jitsu is a living breathing thing. It is always evolving and changing. That is good.”
For the first philosophy, the goal seems to be to preserve the “Pure Water” adapted by the original Gracies. The second statement seems to embrace that idea that change is inevitable as techniques evolve or become refined. That philosophy would argue that it is foolish to say only one to two people are qualified to adapt them. Ultimately the mats provide the truth of who have the best techniques. Perhaps there is a third philosophy. Jiu Jitsu can evolve but only within certain parameters.
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I don’t want to do a lengthy debate between the various philosophies. Those debates have been done ad nauseam. But I will say this, perhaps the impetus for all three philosophies is Jiu Jitsu is something beautiful that we all want to protect. No one wants a McDojo. I’ll go a step further and say; maybe it is good that all three philosophies exist. If you are a sport Jiu Jitsu guy, do sport Jiu Jitsu. If you are a NOGI practitioner, do NOGI. If your goal is self-defense, focus on that. Since Jiu Jitsu is deeply personal, if it is unrecognizable to a different tribe, it is still recognizable to your tribe. Since Jiu Jitsu is deeply loved, that tribe will protect it. Since there is only honesty on the mats, if your technique is lackluster it will be quickly discovered. I’ll also offer this caveat, if you ever find yourself in a place with questionable techniques, where the Jiu Jitsu is not something deeply personal to the practitioner and deeply loved by the tribe, go train somewhere else.