Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is the Martial Art in which technique, leverage and timing can overcome aggression and raw force. The first tenet of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is Safety. Safety may have many different definitions to different martial artists, but whatever your take is the goal is to have you continue you to trail and increase your health and well being.
The Grandmaster of the Art, Helio Gracie, famously emphasized the safety aspects of his brand of Jiu Jitsu. The Martial Artist should keep himself safe, because as long as he has not been incapacitated, injured, or forced to submit, then there is always the chance to prevail in the encounter.
It should be noted that the submissions that Jiu Jitsu is rightly famous for are designed to cause serious injury or incapacitation and should always be handled with care. The act of “Tapping Out” is therefore to prevent the injury from occurring. Because Jiu Jitsu is first a self-defense art, defense against strikes also needs to be addressed as well, although it is trained and sparred with far less frequency than the sport versions, awareness of the self-defense aspects should be at a minimum maintained.
Any rules and customs at Heroes Martial Arts are simply based on common sense and common courtesy. The one hard and fast rule every student is made aware of from the beginning is that any submission applied in training must be applied with enough control and timing that an opponent or partner has ample opportunity to tap out before getting injured. While advancement in Jiu Jitsu is very much an individual growth process, training is always within a group and establishing trust is in your training partners is very important.
In sport competition there are a number of rules to keep participants safe and enforce sportsmanship. Many times in training people tend to adopt these rules out of habit or because they provide a verified code of behavior. It is important to note that whatever rules are being enforced that the participants should realize that their safety is ultimately their personal responsibility and they should never depend solely on a rule set to keep them safe. Again, trust in training partners (and in sporting sense, opponents) is vitally important, but as I always likes to say, “It’s not that I don’t trust you, I don’t trust the situation.”
Further expanding on this notion of safety, the longevity of the martial artist should always be considered. Taking care of one self on and off the mat and living a healthy lifestyle should go hand in hand with training. As one continues to train through the years, the importance of maintaining a proper diet and a proper warm up routine become more evident. The healthier one is, the more mat time one will get. I hope to be training for the rest of my life, and I’m more keenly aware than ever after years of Jiu Jitsu and seeing many people come and go on the mat, that training is more of a privilege and a blessing than a right. However, I would count training as a necessity in my life, so I do what I have to protect myself.
Special care when training should also go to three key areas that may potentially become injured through careless training: the neck, the back, and the knees. It is accepted that an opponent may put those areas at risk intentionally or unintentionally in the course of sparring to a certain degree, and this is considered acceptable in that this is a combative art. But often an inexperienced student may place themself at greater risk through using careless movement, not knowing their limitation or simply using dangerous techniques. Through self-awareness and safety-first mindset, the student should at least be able to minimize the risks they place upon themselves. Rather than insisting on a position or technique through force, often times a martial artist through technique can look for a safer alternative that will likely be even more effective.
The Martial Artist should be aware that using Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is an inherently at risk activity, as such it is impossible to eliminate 100% the danger involved. With a smart strategy, competent instruction and supervision, coupled with a long-term outlook, one can minimize those risks as much as possible and look forward to many years of training on the mat. At Heroes Martial Arts, we do everything we can to make training Jiu Jitsu a fun and safe experience, while at the same time providing a challenge for everyone’s interests.
Ultimately the goal is to build a better martial artist and a better human being.