A Willow in a Snowstorm (Jujutsu and the Transcendence of Violence)

Does your jujutsu (jiu-jitsu) propagate violence or transcend it? The Japanese word jujutsu (柔術) is often thought to translate as ‘gentle art.’ Gentle implies a lack of force or lack of strength. Anyone who has ever done any form of jujutsu knows that there is nothing gentle about being thrown, pinned, joint-locked, or choked. In…

The Good Days Don’t Count

If our goals are shallow, most likely our commitment will be as well. Starting martial arts can be scary. Walking through the door for the first time is a huge step. Once we get started, however, staying can be even more difficult. When our initial motivation wears off, once we reach some short term goal…

John Danaher on the Importance of Training in a Gi for Beginners in BJJ

Brazilian jiu-jitsu instructor John Danaher on teaching BJJ to beginners (excerpted and transcribed from the UFC Unfiltered podcast with Matt Serra and Jim Norton, episode 40): “I would run all beginner’s classes in a gi. Let’s break down what changes when you put a gi on and you take one off. Really, only a few…

A Palette Is Not A Painting

If you don’t like the palette you have been given, create your own, but then make something with it. Too often we find ourselves dissatisfied with what we have, insisting that if we only had more or if we only had something different we would be happy. The problem is that, if we actually get…

Learning Self-Defense For Others

The Gracie jiu-jitsu self-defense curriculum is not for you. Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioners often talk disparagingly about the Gracie self-defense curriculum. They say things like: “I don’t care about that. I just do BJJ for fun. I can defend myself. I don’t need that stuff.” The people who say things like this are usually capable, fit,…