12 Lessons From Brazilian Jiujitsu For Those Saving the World

3.) The Most Dangerous Martial Art Is… One That Doesn’t Actually Work


Many martial arts around the world look and sound cool until the user gets into an actual fight. Suddenly, all the fancy techniques that brought oohs and awes at demonstrations …go right out the window. I say this with humility and respect: sheer practicality is why a solid blue belt in BJJ can handle the average McDojo black belt.

The first reason is the reality of hand to hand combat. Statistically, about 90% of all fights end up with both contestants rolling around on the ground. Most of other martial arts ignore the phenomenon all together and focus on pure stand up striking. BJJ was specifically designed for takedowns and on-ground grappling. “The ground is our ocean. We are the sharks and most people don’t even know how to swim.”

The second reason is the training regimen of BJJ athletes. We measure our abilities with live sparring sessions, called ‘rolling’, at the end of every practice. We pressure test everything we study and learn from immediate feedback. We keep what works and adapt or discard what does not. BJJ belt promotions are given based off of performance in live situations. You will not find a 9 year-old BJJ black belt running around.

Saving the World:

There are ideas in the world that sound amazing in theory. Ideals so detailed in academic analysis we wonder just how can it go wrong? Ideas we so badly want to work that we will ourselves into belief. However, in recent history, when one such ‘higher ideals’ was actually applied, 78 million people were killed. Welcome to Mao’s communist China. Up north in Stalin’s Russia, 55 million killed.

A theory without tested application is just that: a theory. Often many such theories are tied with emotion and bias rather than professional analysis. Be real. Balance theory with experiments. Balance knowledge with experience. Don’t fall into the trap of over-analysis.

Big systematic changes bring about big uncertainty. It does not matter what your good intentions are, tampering with forces beyond your control will likely result in very negative consequences. I’m not saying you shouldn’t take risks or be ambitious in your vision. I’m asking that if you crusade upon altering the entire socio-economic structure of a country, you stand ready to pull the plug if it goes south.


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