The Good And The Bad Of Jiu Jitsu Tribalism

The Brazilian Jiu Jitsu community is paradoxical in the sense that it is a relatively small world but also one with infinite possibilities. People from any corner of the world can be connected by a common ground, or in this case, a common mat. It has potential to be a strong community with the power to come together and make a real difference, however old school politics have separated the communities that they have tried to build.

These days, jiu jitsu has been fragmented into teams, associations, clubs and cliques. It is such a fragmented community that BJJ practitioners everywhere are forgetting the bigger picture. It is a great thing to be a part of a family and team that supports each other and pushes each other toward greatest. But jiu jitsu has been turned into a sport where walking into the wrong training center or wearing the wrong shirt will get you ostracized and shunned. Grown men are rolling their eyes and claiming that the jiu jitsu of another is “not real jiu jitsu.”

Jeff Chan refers to this clique mentality as “tribalism” in his article about the dangers of this kind of mentality. Included is a statement from BJJ star and current contender on The Ultimate Fighter,

Ryan Hall
Ryan Hall

Ryan Hall- “I didn’t join a gang when I started this sport. Anyone who treats someone else differently because they happened to sign up and pursue a sport (professionally or otherwise) at a facility other than their own–likely because of proximity to their house or job–should probably take a moment to reassess their priorities.”

Robert Zeps on the other hand is a practitioner who is paving the way for future generations with a mantra of beauty in equality regardless of association, we are all on team jiu jitsu. Studio 540 is an excellent example of jiu jitsu at it’s finest, dedicated to the sport itself instead of an “in crowd” or clique. Studio 540 has had many associations and teams together on one mat in harmony, a rare occurrence it would seem.

studio 540

There are more people working towards jiu jitsu unity for the greater good.  Braulio Estima, Clark Gracie, Robert Drysdale, Penny Thomas, Rolles Gracie and the crew from BJJ 4 Change hold a common mission to spread  jiu jitsu and the power it holds, especially to the next generation of practitioners, and if you believe the jiu jitsu changes lives then you can  make your contribution on behalf of jiu jitsu!
The BJJ 4 Change movement is dedicated to the life changing benefits of jiu jitsu, not only for the individuals who are part of the movement, but for the lives of the children of Brazil and around the world. BJJ 4 Change wants you to be a part of an amazing jiu jitsu camp with some of the best BJJ players in the world. Not because of what team you represent, not because who you associate with, not because of the color of the belt around your waist, but because you are team jiu jitsu.


  1. The jiu jitsu community in the pacific northwest is pretty laid back and supportive of each other. We may fly different flags/patches but it doesn’t mean we cant be friends. Competitors not enemies. Everyones journey is different. We should support eachother on this journey. My first professor said “in the jiu jitsu community, there arent strangers. Just family you havent met yet”


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