I think the vast majority of jiu-jitsuka can agree that competitions are pretty dope. It is great to go out there and chase our goals and push ourselves to the limit.
However the haters do have one thing right: sport BJJ is not as popular as it could be.
But why is it that? Why is it that we can turn on ESPN and watch “competitive video gaming” and Crossfit, but not Jiu-Jitsu? Why do other countries air more BJJ and martial arts more than the U.S. despite the fact that jiu-jitsu is more popular here than elsewhere? What is holding sport BJJ back from coming to the front lines in America?
Hopefully I can give you some pretty fair answers to these questions.
- Niche– Jiu-jitsu is very niche in that not everyone knows about it and not everyone can really participate. This is furthered by the complex rules that many people cannot understand. Anyone can watch video gaming or CrossFit and understand what is happening, but jiu-jitsu isn’t that easy to follow if you don’t train. Imagine trying to explain advantages or the berimbolo to the average American. It would be very challenging.
- It’s Paced– Jiu-jitsu matches can be very exciting, but they can also be very slow and drawn out. Let’s face it, most people wouldn’t enjoy watching double guard pulls or one guy holding another in top side control for 8 min. I barley enjoy that and I train.
- Funding– This is the biggest one. The funding just isn’t there. The UAE has done a lot, but there just isn’t anyone willing to pay to air BJJ in the U.S. Even pay-per-view events on cable would do wonders for the sport, but like I said , the community lacks funding. On top of that, the pay-per-view events that are streamed online are often pirated and placed on Facebook for free, undermining the potential growth of the sport.
To me, these 3 ideas are what is really holding BJJ back from becoming more popular and being aired on TV.
What other problems does BJJ face in becoming more mainstream in the U.S.? What would you do fix these issues ?