For anyone who hasn’t already heard, Jiu Jitsu Times has teamed up with a regional podcast outfit The BJJ Hour to provide a new sort of podcast experience: Verbal Grappling. This podcast takes controversial subjects and discusses them openly on a debate style forum. For our second episode we featured Houston Cottrell, a 17 year old blue belt Gracie Certified Training Center owner/head instructor. This subject has been one of much controversy and Houston came on to express his rationale for owning and operating an academy. After this, Rener Gracie was kind enough to come on our show to further discuss Houston’s situation as well as to talk to us about one of the most controversial subjects circulating within the jiu jitsu community: GJJ vs. BJJ.
Normally I like to release my recaps of these episodes the week following the episode, but this podcast spread and a lot of people have been discussing it and sharing their opinions, I wanted to let the dust settle a bit before providing a recap for those who haven’t already seen the episode.
If you haven’t already seen it you need to check it out: https://youtu.be/MySwBcKYGsE as far as content goes, it doesn’t really get much more in depth than this.
The episode opened up with a continuation of the Houston Cottrell discussion, this time with Rener Gracie and Frank Cucci adding to the narrative.
Some key points that Gracie and Cucci added to the discussion:
- Houston has chosen which path he wants to take, and it is no one else’s right to tell him which path he should take. Rener provided the analogy of a restaurant: if your favorite restaurant 100 miles away, should you have to settle for something closer if you have the means to get to that restaurant?
- Rener made an apt comment: “Wisdom has no age requirement, and Stupidity has no age limit.”
- They reiterated that Houston doesn’t teach anything he isn’t qualified and certified to teach.
The rebuttal by the BJJ Hour team:
- Houston is just a blue belt which means that there is no way he has done any move enough times to be qualified to teach it.
- Houston’s age renders him a questionable role model. Even if he is super mature, there is no way he can provide the kind of guidance needed from a martial arts instructor.
These key points were discussed at length.
Then the episode went in the direction of discussing GJJ vs. BJJ. I personally voiced my opinion that we should use a timer as I feared that the more verbose people on the podcast would wind up saturating the podcast with their opinions, while those of us who were softer spoken would get drowned out. I was overridden, but in hindsight a timer would have allowed for a more even distribution of perspectives.
In the GJJ vs. BJJ conversation some specific points were discussed:
- GJJ as taught by Gracie Academy and Gracie University features striking as an integral part of the curriculum, in fact as integral as grappling itself. This contributes to GJJ’s ability to teach self defense. Rener said that if your jiu jitsu program doesn’t include striking then it is not Gracie Jiu Jitsu.
- GJJ’s curriculum is far more controlled than other curriculums out there. This was reiterated many times throughout the episode. The notion being that at any given academy throughout the world the same exact set of moves is being taught the same way giving a certain level of continuity.
- In its methodology GJJ gives students a deeper feeling that jiu jitsu is for everyone than the normal invariable selection process that takes places at schools. Rener feels that GJJ has a better retention rate than the average BJJ school and he wants to use that retention rate to increase the number of jiu jitsu practitioners worldwide.
On the other side of the debate:
- Many jiu jitsu schools incorporate striking into their programs, but even so it may be better to compartmentalize learning into grappling, striking and mixed rather than to try to use Jiu Jitsu as a complete art. I personally brought up the lack of pure “GJJ” MMA fighters, most train the way I’ve described.
- There are some inherent risks with allowing instructor certification to be endowed upon lower ranks. We brought up the issue of a school in Fort Collins Colorado in which the teenage blue belt instructors were donning black belts with red bars on them while wearing BJJ gis and standing in front of pictures of Helio Gracie (also while demonstrating grappling techniques.) This is an issue that Rener addressed by stating that those black belts are for Karate not BJJ and that the girls were simply providing a demonstration.
- Jiu Jitsu isn’t necessarily for everyone, even though anyone can do it. In order to get good at jiu jitsu one must be exposed to a certain level of savagery. Rener explained that he feels that that savagery should be saved for later on, the podcast team didn’t agree with that.
There were many other points discussed on the podcast, but I’ll let you watch it for yourself. Rener Gracie was a wonderful guest for us to have for our third episode and we at Verbal Grappling, The BJJ Hour and Jiu Jitsu Times thank him for his participation. I will provide some further perspectives on the discussion later in another article. Stay tuned for our next episode of Verbal Grappling, we’ve got some great guests in the pipeline!