Practitioners at Flow are welcome at all ages and levels of physical condition. Beginners are welcome at any time. Feel free to come in and watch a class!
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a grappling rather than striking art and “submissions” are won by implied rather than sustained damage. Though injuries can occur in any sport, practitioners (once they reach a level of proficiency) are generally able to practice sparring at 100% of sporting intensity without sustaining injury. Similar to the moment in Chess when the King is retired by the losing player rather than being removed from the board, the game of Jiu Jitsu is won when a player acknowledges that to continue would cause injury or (in the case of a choke) unconsciousness. Many comparisons have been made between Chess and Jiu Jitsu, including the need to stay current on technical developments, and exhaustively study opening movements and refutations. The renowned Chess Champion, Josh Waitzkin–an innovator of tutorial Chess software–is currently working with Jiu Jitsu Champion Marcelo Garcia to develop an instructional website which merges Josh’s highly developed method of Chess study with the game of Jiu Jitsu.
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu was made hugely popular by the Gracie family in the early nineties with the advent of the first UFC event. In a single elimination contest that involved eight fighters from various styles (western boxing, sumo, Muay Thai, etc) and had limited rules, Royce Gracie easily took each fighter apart with a style of Jiu Jitsu, almost completely consisting of ground-based grappling techniques. This was a defining moment for BJJ, an art that had not yet gained wide recognition outside of Brazil. Renowned martial artists of traditional disciplines noted Royce Gracie’s calm and unflappable demeanor, while young enthusiasts flocked in droves to learn everything they could about this newly discovered style.
Over almost twenty years Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and what has come to be known as MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) have redefined how many people view the martial and fighting arts. They have spawned, with renewed enthusiasm, a thousand more tired discussions attempting to distinguish the ultimate and most effective martial art. In forums around the Internet and in after-class debates every possible scenario is analyzed to determine which martial art would prevail–as if martial arts were entities of their own, existing apart from the body of practitioners.
What is largely underappreciated about Brazilian Jiu Jitsu when viewed in this light, is its unrivaled sophistication as a martial sport, or game. Several years ago Rigan Machado produced a three volume encyclopedia of Jiu Jitsu sweeps, submissions and counters. While a remarkable resource, the encyclopedia was by no way exhaustive and since publication technical innovations and developments have continued to refine and improve the art of Jiu Jitsu. Much of this innovation is due to the health of Jiu Jitsu as a sport/game both in organized competitions and within the school in sparring sessions.
Undoubtedly, an athlete interested in MMA competition will want to study Jiu Jitsu, and Jiu Jitsu is probably a good fit for those interested in self defense, but a level of expertise in Jiu Jitsu will take quite a few years to develop–and mastery of such a highly technical art could take well over a decade. The practice of Jiu Jitsu can be physically and psychologically demanding–requiring a high level of focus and exertion which, for most practitioners, becomes its own reward. As with any discipline it seems always to be the practitioners that love to practice who become great at the art.