Old School BJJ

Even the oldest red belts out there must acknowledge that the evolution of jiu-jitsu is inevitable and is mostly a positive thing.

The collective hive mind of the jiu-jitsu world continues to create and innovate positions that were unthinkable back in the days that Helio Gracie and family were fighting to prove the effectiveness of jiu-jitsu. What would Helio make of an Imanari roll into inside heel hook at the top level of professional MMA?

I was a serious student of BJJ when the first black belt instructors arrived in North America. I kept a detailed notebook of all of my techniques in the time I went from white belt to blue belt.

I can tell you move for move what I was taught by a 5th degree black belt from Brazil in the initial three years of learning BJJ. I was fortunate to get a great foundation in the fundamentals of jiu-jitsu that served me well all the way to black belt.

Today’s competition oriented blue belts know sweeps, guards, and half guards that were virtually unheard of then. My 1998 blue belt self would have had no idea what a deep half guard was or what a D’arce choke looked like.

That said, I still love my old school jiu-jitsu!

Why do I retain such affection for that Ralph Gracie smash mouth style of jiu-jitsu that is relatively basic and very effective?

Because like many of the old school, Royce Gracie inspired me with his submission victories in the earliest UFC events. For those of us looking to answer the question, “Which is the best fighting style?” Gracie jiu-jitsu seemed to be the answer. Until the rest of the world learned BJJ and caught up, jiu-jitsu fighters ruled the no-holds-barred fighting scene.

I remain more excited by the basic techniques that allow the smaller, weaker fighter to defend against, control, and submit a larger, stronger opponent in a real fight.

I marvel at the technical brilliance of guys like the Mendes Brothers and Marcelo Garcia. The way they have developed different positions is nothing short of genius.

Yet I find myself drilling and trying to perfect that core of jiu-jitsu that originally made me fall in love with the art. That to me is the essence of BJJ.

Are you old school or new school?


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