This is an article I wrote seven years ago that was published on GracieMag.com. Let's revisit it, and at the end, I'll address if anything has changed since then!
With the results of the most recent UFC event, people are already starting to pop the question, “Is Jiu Jitsu dead?”
We watched Renzo Gracie get obliterated on his feet, BJ Penn had his belt taken from him on his feet, and Damian Maia lost his title shot to what started as a very impressive performance but turned into three rounds of running around the ring by Anderson Silva.
Renzo Gracie, BJ Penn, and Damian Maia – you would be hard-pressed to find three better men to represent the art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in the UFC. So is this the end of an era?
Jiu Jitsu dominated the UFC in the early years, was it just a phase?
Let’s imagine for a second that football has been around since the beginning of time, but all anyone ever did was a passing game. Then, all of a sudden in 1993 a team came out with a running game, went undefeated and won the super bowl.
For the next few years, other teams started implementing running games into their arsenal and before you knew it – EVERY team had at least some running game in their playbook.
Now, this year in the playoffs all of the matches were running teams versus passing teams. All of the passing teams won. After so much success, should we stop using the running game? It seems ridiculous to even ask such a question. Of course not, on this night the passing teams had the running teams numbers, and nobody could do anything about it. They just came out with a better strategy and implementation.
Jiu Jitsu is not dead, not by any means. In fact, there were some aspects of those fights last night that proved how alive it truly is.
Anderson Silva and Matt Hughes, arguably two of the best fighters in the history of the sport said that there was no way they were going to the ground. They trained to keep that fight on the feet, just as the jiu jitsu players trained to get it to the ground, the Jiu Jitsu players just couldn’t pull it off.
If anything is to be taken from these fights, it is the evolution of all martial artists. Jiu Jitsu in the United States has evolved tremendously. Fighters are taking the words of Bruce Lee to heart and using no way as way. Matt Hughes' Jiu Jitsu includes more aspects of fighting than Royce Gracie’s. His wrestling skills combined with the training he has in Jiu Jitsu enabled him to take out some of the best of the Gracie Family.
So what will I train? I will continue to train my jiu jitsu skills, both the sportive aspect as well as the street. I will continue to train my standup skills, but I will not limit myself to Boxing or Muay Thai, my standup will include Kenpo, Kali, Wing Chun, Muay Thai, Western Boxing, Wrestling, Jiu Jitsu, Judo, and other martial arts that our family has incorporated into what we teach.
Where we believe some schools error is in calling their singular art “THE WAY.” There is no way, and once someone starts to tell you that this is the way, and no other martial arts are worth learning, be wary.
However, don’t be fooled by the hype of the outcomes of these fights, on any night anything can happen. Watch them, appreciate their place as a competitive sport in which some aspects of the martial arts can be proven on the canvas battleground, and continue to train a very well-rounded program.
Jiu Jitsu is not dead!
So 7 years after posting this article, has anything changed? If we look at that stats it seems that more fights (while still close) are being won by the strikers rather than the grapplers.
Check out this post from my father:
No this does not mean Jiu Jitsu is dying but in fact the opposite. More and more fighters are learning it, which makes them much better at defending against it. Why are they learning it? Because the early success of Jiu Jitsu in this format proved it is a necessity.
However, every round starts standing up, and this plays into the hands of the striker - the fight starts where they want to be, so they just have to avoid letting the grappler get it to where he wants to be.
So, what are you training? Are all three sides of this triangle covered? If not, there could be a huge hole in your ability to fight in all scenarios.