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Sensei Ono, founder of Shinka Martial Arts, is a teacher and student of life. His passion for helping others and self improvement is the purpose behind this blog. -- "If your purpose in any way includes making the world a better place, I urge to you read, and share the knowledge."

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Sportificaiton Rant

I recognize that, like all things, there are different quality of instructors and focuses out there - my understanding is that there are many talented BJJ instructors out there who regularly incorporate striking, weapons and other street defense tactics into their curriculum.  Fierce studio comes to mind, Ari being a bouncer/cop undoubtedly has an efficient filter from which to teach the remarkable positive qualities of jiu jitsu (and Aikido).

I cannot, however, in good conscience, consider what *I* have seen in every BJJ school I have interviewed to be anything short of ludicrous, silly, and the exact OPPOSITE of self defense focused.

"Turtle guard"!?  REALLY!?  Curling up in a ball is your go-to offensive maneuver!? 

I get it, as a recovery position it is important to learn... but your GO-TO!?  Are you insane!? 

You TRY to get to a position where you literally have no control, your partner can literally just stab you, knee you, soccer kick you, get up and leave, or just bring their forearm down on your neck... 

Again, I'm not saying that the turtle position doesn't have it's place - every position has it's place, especially if you're in a scramble, or, trying to lock up a submission and something goes awry.  It's important to learn how to transition out of everything, how to upgrade everything. 

All true. 

But... to even IMPLY let alone specifically STATE that *UPGRADING* to the turtle position is in ANY WAY based on self defense... safety... or even common sense... is... criminally negligent

If my SELF DEFENSE INSTRUCTOR regularly coached me to upgrade to the fetal position, and I was in a street self defense situation...  If I lived, once I got out of the hospital I would sue him for negligence. 

How could you not? 

How can you, as a SELF DEFENSE INSTRUCTOR sleep at night, knowing that what you're teaching WILL eventually get one of your students hurt, or killed?

That's like saying wrapping yourself in tinfoil will stop a bullet.  I mean, it'll slow it down, and, hell, maybe if you wrapped enough layers around yourself it might actually work - but a friggin' kevlar vest is probably the way to go, no?

Now, this rant is certainly not limited to BJJ, it is, perhaps, the most glaring example for my beef with sportification.  I have equal beef with a great number of martial arts schools I've seen.  TKD is another great example where "self defense" is written on the door and (I SHIT YOU NOT) they coach to get down on one knee and chop the inside of someone's leg as a goddamn knife defense.

If it says "self defense" on your door, and you teach that curling up into the fetal position is a "dominant position" or that proposing to your knife wielding attacker is the correct way to handle the situation YOU ARE BAD.

When I ask the instructor, he replies "well, no, you wouldn't use that in self defense, or even in MMA - it's just for competition/forms/show/art."

THIS ANSWER... Drives me insane. 

That's fine, if you are a "BJJ Sport" school, and you put on your door "useless, but fun!  get a great workout!  go to tournaments!  get medals!  friends!" - cool.  I have no beef with you.  I have no beef with cardio kickboxing, badminton, most tai chi schools etc.  I only have a beef with you when you put "learn self defense" in your advertising when it is the furthest thing from your mind.


Oh, I'm getting to you in a second.

Yes.  I agree.  Your olympic level badminton playing skills WILL transfer, somewhat, into a self defense situation.  You'll be in better shape, and you'll have better hand/eye coordination.

And yes, if you have 20 years of training in virtually anything, and you go up against a fellow who has no training, chances are you can spike his proverbial birdie.  If nothing else, you'll outlast them in the cardio department.

The question becomes about just how diluted your "self defense" is.  If you have 1% self defense, and 20 years of training, and you go up against a person whose style is 100% self defense oriented who only has 4 years of training... 

Okay.  Let's move on to the next excuse:

"The rules are there for safety"

Okay, cool.  I get it.  Really, I do.

Injuries are pretty darn common in a lot of "pure self defense" schools.  I understand why (most of) the rules in MMA exist - fighter safety, entertainment etc. 

As long as we agree that we could "show" an illegal strike (in a safe way) or perhaps simulate it in an isolated, controlled way to train it, that's fine. 

As long as we agree that we are doing our best to safely simulate dangerous combat, that's cool.  We all gotta work in the morning and we don't want to have black eyes.  I get it.  I do.

So, let's go back to the BJJ turtle example. 

How... I mean... HOW could that be argued.  "well, it's in the rules" okay, change the goddamn rules.  Why... WHY put a rule into your MARTIAL arts themed sport which goes directly AGAINST self defense?  That's like giving a ballet dancer cement shoes to clunk around in.  "She gets more points for the shoes" (but isn't it supposed to simulate being weightless!?)

These analogies are getting out of hand...

It isn't for safety.

Clearly there's the same level of danger in any particular position in BJJ.  Is it for entertainment?  Do people find someone attacking with their face on the ground entertaining?  Perhaps?  Maybe without that you just get a lot of side control and stalling??

I've heard by so many people I respect that BJJ is a super power, that it is essential for street self defense, that all fights go to the ground etc etc etc.

And, I would argue that GRAPPLING is essential for street self defense, (especially the ability to get back up) and that GRAPPLING is a super power.  Especially when combined with common sense.

HOW BJJ has moved so far away from their original purpose is staggering to me. 

Now, having said that, I'm willing to be proven wrong.  Teach me sensei - teach me the virtues of the turtle position.  Hell, Diaz and Serra both used it a LOT in their respective GSP fights.  Maybe I'm missing something.  Maybe that's the way to go.  Maybe Georges is just too damn good, and anyone else would've been destroyed by their turtle attack.

(I mean, at the very LEAST, wouldn't someone just wind up and kick you in the balls??  I mean, isn't that a BEST case scenario...?)

Okay, I'm done.

Rant over.  Ready to learn.