9.16.2008

YOUR COMMUNITY

Some of the comments on my recent posts have brought up some interesting points about the growth and direction of jiu-jitsu in the area. Besides the rising number of tournaments, what is being done to encourage jiu-jitsu within the local community so that in time, we can see home-grown black-belts. I'm sure in most cases, the instruction received is by a visiting or semi-permanent teacher both foreign and local. And in other cases, there are academies that have just themselves to train with and push each other. There are also guys/girls that trained jiu-jitsu before but have moved to an area that has no jiu-jitsu whatsoever and perhaps not even a judo school nearby.

Now it's not my aim to rag on anyone's situation nor am I against instructors from outside your respective country. BJJ from it's beginnings is all about mixing it up. Everyone knows the story about how Mitsuyo Maeda introduced the Gracie Family to ju-jutsu/judo and from there things took off. Now BJJ as we know it is the fastest growing martial art with major competitors coming from Brazil, US, Japan and Europe. If not, check out what wikipedia says: HERE.

An example I can give since I live in Bangkok is the difference I see between learning Muay Thai versus Tae Kwon Do. Let me also say that I have no interest in talking about what style is better. To be honest, I think this discussion is rather old and it should really be about what you want. What do you want from training? Let it be about you and what you want versus what is cool or what is the deadliest art in the world?

The biggest difference, in Bangkok, is that one is a means of making a living and another is a hobby. Now it can be said that yes, there are professional TKD fighters but when considering the numbr of Muay Thai practioners in Thailand that train/live/fight as a career, the difference is black and white. So, while Muay Thai is all the rage in the Western world as a profession, sport and way of getting fit, it's not necessarily seen the same way here in Thailand. Personally I think it's a real shame because rather than promoting your own art like so many Asian countries do, in it's place, TKD schools are as common as starbucks. My point here is that it doesn't necessarily matter the effeciency or practicality of the art/sport but at least here, it's about perception. How is the public going to perceive Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu when comparing it to TKD, Karate, Kung Fu, Muay Thai, Kali, Escrima, JKD, Boxing, Wrestling, Judo, Silat, etc. Not in the sense of which style is better because the only people that are proving that are those that do this professionally, fighting in the ring/cage.

What does BJJ provide to the public as a means of positive outlet, expression, discipline, social activity and community? As the tournament here in Bangkok is less than 2 weeks away, we are taking the steps to publicly display jiu-jitsu to the Thai public. Perhaps we'll gain some students but I'm sure in the beginning there will be a lot of confusion and hopefully from this confusion comes questions. How are we going to answer them? How do we translate the positive elemenst of jiu-jitsu to audience that needs to perceive it's value in a certain way. Perhaps the circumstances here in Thailand are different than other places so I can only voice what I see.

I would really like to hear what the situation is like in your area. A lot of the schools that are established now were started by a handful of jiu-jitsu crazy guys that didn't have any place to train. So they started informal training sessions which eventually grew into full academies. What did it take? What were the hardships and bumps that came along the way? What else can we do to spread the word.

I will continue this discussion with some of the leaders in the area to hear what they experienced and see if we can learn from their experiences.

Luke

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