5510 US-280 #106, Birmingham, Alabama 35242

Respect in Jiu-Jitsu

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gracie barra jiu jitsu respect

Many people associate the positive values of humility, discipline and respect for ones instructor and fellow students with the traditional martial arts. This is one of the most important reasons why parents decide to enroll their children in kids martial arts programs.

Where did this tradition of respect in Jiu-Jitsu come from? Those of you who know a little about Jiu-Jitsu history know that the roots of Gracie Barra Jiu-Jitsu come from the original Japanese schools of ju-jitsu and judo. In those early schools of ju-jitsu (common spelling in Japan) that the Masters were frequently not making much money from teaching and the teacher – student relationship was based upon the desire to share knowledge and to learn from the master. Students would pay their respect to their teacher by helping out to maintain the dojo. This is a tradition that is continued today in some Jiu-Jitsu schools where students clean the mats after class.

The founder of Judo, Dr. Jigoro Kano saw martial arts as a way to preserve the knowledge of the samurai and as a means of cultural preservation after a period of great cultural upheaval in Japan. Kano’s vision included Judo as part of the education system in Japan. A means of character development through training martial arts. These origins implanted the importance for respect in the students in Jiu-Jitsu from the very beginning.

In a way, martial arts are joined with the value of respect in a unique combination of both physical and character development through training. Few other sports place such an emphasis on the character development of the student. It is difficult to imagine similar character training from running a 10km race, playing tennis or volleyball.

This leads us to talk about respect in the Gracie Barra Jiu-Jitsu school today. Many of the rules of etiquette and the values instilled in the GB school come from those martial arts traditions.

Respect for the art. We recognize that “we all stand on the shoulders of giants” in that we owe acknowledgment to the great masters of Jiu-Jitsu who created and developed the art that we love, through decades of hard work and sweat. In Gracie Barra schools, there are photos on the wall of Grand Master Carlos Gracie Sr. and Master Carlos Gracie Jr. Part of the class ritual is a bow of respect to the images of the founders of Gracie Barra. In this symbolic act we connect to the origins of Jiu-Jitsu and respect the creators and innovators that made this all possible.

Outside of the class, every student of Gracie Barra Jiu-Jitsu has a role as an ambassador of the art of Jiu-Jitsu. To conduct oneself in a way that represents both yourself and the art in a positive light. Being respectful towards both the art and others goes a long way to demonstrating to everyone the benefit of Jiu-Jitsu as a positive influence for all kinds of people.

Respect to your instructor and the dojo. Gracie Barra continues the Japanese cultural custom of the bow in the Gracie Barra school. Bowing on and off the mats for example is a way of showing respect for the school and art of Jiu-Jitsu. It is also symbolic in shutting off the concerns of the outside world and readying oneself to focus on Jiu-Jitsu.

The relationship of instructor and student is based on mutual respect between the two. The instructor respects the open attitude, the hard work and sweat of the student. The student in turn respects the knowledge and experience of the instructor and respects the rules of the school. These instructor-student relationships can endure decades and be among the most meaningful relationships in a person’s life.

Respect for your training partners. A little bow after drilling techniques in the class or the slap and fist bump signify to your opponent “thank you for the opportunity to train with you” and the unspoken promise to keep each other safe while pushing each other. Intense as the rolling may be, respect for your opponent is underneath it all.

In the modern media where professional fighters promote their personas and upcoming matches with trash talking and provocative acts, the respect between opponents is sadly being eroded. Jiu-Jitsu students should avoid these smack talking antics and instead be respectful while competing hard. The respect for your opponents and training partners comes from recognizing that we need each other. In agreeing to compete and test each other, we are pushing each other to be better than we ever could be alone. Respect your training partners and opponents for overcoming their own fears and obstacles and practicing Jiu-Jitsu.

How do you see the role of respect in Jiu-Jitsu?

Credits: Mark Mullen
Gracie Barra Black belt based in Asia

Jiu-Jitsu for Everyone

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