According to 2020 statistics, there are 1831 registered academies that are certified by the IBJJF around the globe. The COVID-19 outbreak has found us questioning for the future of these and many more academies, and not just the academies themselves, but also the future of the sport.
The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, has brought large aspects of society to a grinding halt, shutting down all sporting and cultural events, businesses, and even government functions worldwide. The combat sports world was not immune; postponing boxing and MMA shows around the globe, or outright canceled. MMA and Brazilian jiu jitsu gyms have been closed due to government restrictions. As close of contact to people outside of your household poses a real threat to everyone’s health.
This is a strange reality for Jiu Jitsu academies, as a contact sport,“contact” for skill development is key. With a global downturn in economies many facilities are scrambling and left wondering if they will be able to hold down the fort, and reopen doors, when this crisis blows over.
Coming across internet posts with taglines that read “ We will come back stronger” or other such concepts. Gives one hope and reminds us that it is, for this very reason that most of us have chosen to take up sports such as Jiu-Jitsu. Not just killer abs, or cool pictures with our buddies on the mats.
After a few sessions on the mats, a brand new white belt will realize that the only way to progress and succeed in this sport is to find logic and calm in the stress moments of your training. Losing your mind in jiu-jitsu is equivalent to losing control of your aggression, which leads to losing control of your strength, losing control of your movements and consequently completely losing the battle. Leaving you frustrated and absolutely hating the sport and your training partners.
To do anything successfully in Jiu Jitsu you need to have a clear mind. No matter the circumstances. When a person who potentially is 20 or sometimes 30kg heavier than you is pressing you against the mats while all their might, sometimes their knee is on your belly and the pain is excruciating and there is limited oxygen coming into your brain, you need to relax. That moment is terrible, but if you are patient you can win. You need a clear mind to look around, move if possible, find or create space, and summon all your strength to get out of this terrible position and submit what is trying to submit you.
If we are honest with ourselves, this is why we train. To prepare for real life situations that are so terrible, and so incredibly uncomfortable that it may seem like there is no way out, and the only option to make it stop is to submit. Unless we take a breath, look around, make a move, and with control of the situation, slowly fight our way out of it, until we win.
It has been said that what sets Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu apart from other martial arts, is that it is the great equalizer. Weight, age, nationality, rich, poor, everyone is brought to the same level on the mats. Everyone wears the same Gi, and everyone is looking for the same outcome. The only ones who stand out are the people who are able to stay calm, humble and strong throughout their practice not giving up.
It would seem to be that Coronavirus has had the same effect on the world. Rich, poor, healthy or not, we have all been humbled by a seemingly harmless virus. Families, businesses, world economies have all been brought to their knees. The only ones who will stand out and make it through are the ones who apply the principles that we practice on the mats. Take a breath, look around, make a move, and with control of the situation, we will slowly fight our way out of this one too. Until we win.