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Do I have to quit BJJ in order to practice it?

Yesterday was my last Judo Practice. No thanks to IJF, I have no passion for the sport anymore.

I still love true Judo but IJF’s adaptation of it is a complete joke. It was said that I will return to Judo once I realize that my “stand up” game has diminished.

Not likely, BJJ and Freestyle Wrestling allows most, if not all 67 throws of the Kodokan. If anything, practicing IJF “Judo” will stifle my tachi waza due to all the restrictive rules.

It’s messed up that I have to leave Judo in order to practice Judo.

Recently, Ok Kimonos athlete, Alex My Nguyen posted this statement on Facebook.

alex gold medal 1

In order to practice the art that she loves, Alex has to quit practicing it as it’s practiced today.

I love Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and I love all of it’s leglocks, slicers, cranks, grips, etc. that are not allowed by the IBJJF and in order to practice true Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, I have to look elsewhere.

Which reignited thoughts about Brazilian Jiu Jitsu becoming an Olympic sport.   If the IBJJF is already watering down our art/sport (with the best of intentions, mind you), then imagine what will happen to it if it gets into the Olympics?

Will Alex, and kids across the world, be forced to quit BJJ in order to be able to truly train in it?

Also contributing toward the push for BJJ in the Olympics is the 2016 Rio Games.  Since the Olympics will be in the homeland of our sport (sort of), it seems logical to push for its inclusion.  Here’s why that is a giant freaking mistake….

Olympic Regulation Will Ruin Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

Drew Brunning wrote an amazing piece a while ago about why BJJ should not be in the Olympics and I agree with him on all points.  He highlighted a few things worth mentioning here:

Why being an Olympic sport isn’t necessarily a good thing.

If we look at what the IJF has done to Judo in order to make it a better Olympic sport, can we agree that it has also made it a better representation of the art of Judo?

Of course not. Otherwise Alex would have to bearing to her statement above.

But she’s absolutely right. 

In a 2010 ruling, the IJF banned any grabbing of the legs which caused a true divide between the art of Judo and the Olympic sport of Judo.

I also absolutely agree that when a sport becomes ‘Olympic’ it also has to become TV friendly and that means massive changes in the ruleset in order to keep people entertained.  This will drastically change the way people play and train BJJ.


The difficulties along the path to becoming an Olympic sport.

Some of the major difficulties for becoming an Olympic sport include:

  • Already another jacketed grappling sport in the Olympics
  • Domination by one nation with regard to skills and international wins
  • A nation’s name being in the title of the art
  • Multiple governing bodies
  • Anti-doping regulations

While we have made strides to overcome some of these, we are still light years away from being where we need to be to become an Olympic sport.

The avenues that BJJ players have to compete in the Olympics.

Right now, the only avenues that BJJ players have for Olympic goal is wrestling and judo.  Obviously, the preferred mode of competition would be judo.  The majority of the skills that help a person succeed in judo are those that are, arguably, also used in BJJ and in sports like Sambo.

alex my nguyen kids pan jiu jitsu championAs Alex noted above, her best techniques in wrestling are judo takedowns that are no longer allowed in judo competition.  This is similar to what I’ve read about Dave and Dan Camarillo where some of their best moves in judo were not throws, but flying armbars and triangles (or combinations thereof).

In Summary

In order to attain Olympic status, we will have to potentially destroy and art / sport that has infinitely increased the quality of many of our lives.  An art that I love could forever be altered to the point that, like Alex, in order to train in what I believe the art to be, I have to quit competing in it.

I would hate to see Alex, or any other athlete, have to quit a sport they love just because of regulatory changes and it’s my hope that by keeping BJJ out of the Olympics, we can keep its integrity.

About the author: Lover of Jesus, Bowties, and BJJ. Founder of Ok! Kimonos.

6 comments… add one
  • Aleš Hrubý

    plně souhlasím, IJF úplně zničilo judo…

  • Mohammad

    Good Read!

  • Artie

    Tell her to find somewhere that offers freestyle judo or AAU judo. Judo the way it is meant to be. My gym has an old school (1968 olympian for ireland) instructor and he is a definite IJF malcontent.

  • Aw man, now that you’re linking to this I need to update it for wrestling being dropped as a core Olympic sport, the 2013 complete leg grab ban in Judo, the addition of cameras in Judo for TV-friendliness, etc.

  • Héctor Aldana

    buenas tardes leí tu artículo y realmente cambio mi perspectiva sobre el tema, antes me declaraba a favor de que fuera deporte olimpico pero ahora tengo serias dudas sobre ello, saludos desde México

  • Carlo

    I just started Jiu Jitsu and am loving it. I would never do it as a sport though. I want to do it solely as an art and for the self-defence side of it.

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