Finding the “Face” of Jiu-Jitsu

I am a big fight fan, which has lead me to watch the entire The Ultimate Fighter TV series.

One particular episode really got me thinking. In this particular episode, one of the fighters decides that it is a great idea to play mind games with one of the other fighters in an attempt to instigate a fight in the house.

Everyone else in the house made a point of commenting on his constant behavior (not just this incident, but others in the past), particularly, the idea of this guy portraying “What MMA fighters are working not to be” and “Not being the face of what MMA wants to be”.

The face of MMA is one that is evolving, and probably still being defined. But whose face do we think of when we think of MMA?

Royce Gracie?

BJ Penn?

Anderson Silva?

Jon Jones?

Ronda Rousey?

Conor McGregor?  

It could be any fighter who may have a fighting style we like or carries themselves professionally in interviews and positively represents the sport. It could be anyone we look up to, really.

Well, this thought rolled into my mind next: whom do we think of when we think of the “face” of jiu-jitsu?

Helio Gracie?

Xande Ribeiro?

Keenan Cornelius?

Marcelo Garcia?

Some other guy or gal whom we all see as an absolute monster on the mats?

Someone who unrelentingly gives back to the sport?

Someone who is exemplary in their actions, on and off the mat?

So, is there someone we can all agree on that should be the “face” of jiu-jitsu?

Well, I think Andre Galvao could be.


I guess.

He seems like a nice enough guy. He is a beast on the mat. World champion. Runs a beautiful school. Has other world champions around him. Posts positive messages on Instagram. Seems to love his wife and daughter.

What do you think? Do you agree? Should he be the person? Maybe…maybe not.

Pondering this further, I think we all can look a little closer to home. While I think people like Andre Galvao and Marcelo Garcia are great, they are not the people I think of when I think of the “face” of jiu-jitsu.

When I first thought of this idea, I immediately started rifling through mental pictures of all the people I train with. The people I sweat with. The people I grind with. And It could never be just one person. Too many people I am around play too much of a role in my life.

For me, it’s the faces I see every day when I walk through the gym door. It’s the faces who greet me with a warm “Hello” and a handshake on the tough days. It’s the face that gives me a little tweak to a move I have been working on that makes me feel temporarily unstoppable. It’s the faces of the people who are instrumental in making me better.

It’s not the people that I see on YouTube hitting flying armbar omoplata heel hooks. Those people don’t know my struggles or see my accomplishments. It’s the people who give me advice. It’s the people who hold me high in victory and help me up in defeat.

I don’t think there is one potential “face” for jiu-jitsu. Perspectives will be different from one person to the next. But, I think we can all appreciate the people around us. The people in our own personal jiu-jitsu community.

And those people are most likely the people at the front of our minds. This is because these people help us the most. They make us feel good about ourselves, but they also keep us in check when we start to veer off the course.

Find your own “face” of jiu-jitsu. My guess is that you won’t have to look to far.


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