After watching BJJ challenge matches for over a decade, I challenge my fellow BJJ practitioners to put up challenges against other grappling styles.
I know I am not the only one tired of watching a BJJ fighter go against a weightlifter, karate fighter, kung fu fighter, or aikido fighter. These challenges simply prove nothing.
What’s worse are the fanboys who claim these matches make BJJ a superior art. This is akin to a basketball team proclaiming it is the best because it beat a soccer team in basketball.
Judo and BJJ are successful because they absorb what is useful. Judo was originally a mixing of many different styles of Japanese jujitsu (there were over 300 styles of jujitsu prior to 1882). It was tested by challenge matches against other styles and improved via this method.
In fact, Mitsuyo Maeda was sent out from Japan to spread judo and prove its effectiveness. This helped form Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
Many of the initial challenge matches in BJJ utilized fights against all styles. Win or lose, Helio Gracie fought many fighters from different styles. These fighters included Kimura, Waldemar Santana, and Yassuiti Ono.
George Gracie fought everyone and even challenged his brother Helio to a sanctioned fight. Helio backed down, though.
The Gracies had a huge rivalry with Luta Livre (Brazilian catch wrestling) and it helped to improve BJJ as a whole.
Rolls Gracie sought to learn beneficial techniques from all styles. He and his protégé, Rickson Gracie, competed in Sambo, Greco-Roman wrestling, judo, BJJ and competed within the rule sets of those styles. This was also the source of Rickson’s first documented loss to Sambo and judo practitioner Ron Tripp (1993).
Wouldn’t it be better to see far more improvements in jiu-jitsu by having BJJ fighters consistently go against high level Sambo, judo, wrestling, and no-gi grapplers?
Putting a high level BJJ fighter against a low-level grappler in a BJJ rule set stacks the deck against other grapplers.
The mixing of martial arts created a style of self-defense that was far superior to its predecessors.
Regardless of the rule set, we all need to make BJJ better by training with other styles and adding techniques from those arts.
So, let’s all push for high level challenge matches. Allow slams and other techniques deemed illegal by various BJJ federations. Brazilian jiu-jitsu will evolve and improve.