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Although Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is still considered by many to be one of the most effective martial arts in the world, its role in the sport has changed over time. What was once a dominant fighting style all on its own has evolved to become an essential piece of a much larger puzzle. Some of the best fighters to date came from backgrounds in wrestling, sambo, muay thai, and karate. While the role of jiu-jitsu in most fighter's arsenals has undoubtedly changed, it still play a pivotal role in their training programs. So how exactly has jiu-jitsu evolved with the sport MMA? Let's examine some champions from different eras to see how jiu-jitsu has changed throughout the more than 25 years of the sport.

Royce Gracie was the UFC 1 tournament champion and went on to also win UFCs 2 and 4, compiling an overall MMA record of 15-2-3. Going in to UFC 1, Royce was on a mission to prove that the fighting style his family refined throughout the years could defeat all the other well-known styles. Royce dominated the early UFCs, submitting nearly every opponent. He finished all but one of his first eleven fights by submission, finishing the other one via TKO from a dominant position. From the early to late 90's, it was almost universally agreed upon that jiu-jitsu was the most effective martial art in a real fight. On May 1, 2000, Royce suffered his first professional defeat at the hands of Kazushi Sakuraba via TKO. Sakuraba became known as the "Gracie Hunter," as he also had wins over Royler, Renzo, and Ryan Gracie. It was around this time that MMA was gaining more popularity and more participants, so fighters were beginning to adapt their styles and become well-rounded. Royce Gracie showed that if a jiu-jitsu expert went into the cage or ring against someone without any grappling experience, the odds were in the jiu-jitsu practitioner's favor.

As the UFC began to gain more notoriety, more stars with different backgrounds began to develop. In the late 90's and early 2000's, former Division I wrestler Chuck Liddell began to take the sport by storm. Liddell was a power puncher, who used his wrestling to counter his opponents' takedowns and keep the fight on the feet. Using this strategy, Liddell scored 13 knockout victories and eventually became the UFC Light Heavyweight champion. His style was nearly the complete opposite of Royce Gracie's. So where does jiu-jitsu come into play? Liddell started his jiu-jitsu training in the late 90's during the start of his MMA career. He was submitted in his third professional fight by submission specialist Jeremy Horn. However, since that fight, Liddell competed in 27 more professional fights and never again suffered defeat via submission. He even went on to avenge his loss against Jeremy Horn in 2005, this time winning by TKO. While Royce's jiu-jitsu was used offensively to finish fights, Chuck Liddell used his jiu-jitsu in a purely defensive manner, keeping his matches on the feet and utilizing his striking to put his opponents away.

The first women's fight in UFC history took place on February 23, 2013. Since then, the women's divisions have been some of the most exciting and competitive in the sport. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt Amanda Nunes currently holds the UFC bantamweight and featherweight titles. Her run in the promotion has been nearly flawless, compiling a 15-1 record with 10 finishes. Amanda's style represents a very modern approach to the game. Though she is most well known for her striking, she started her jiu-jitsu training at age 16 and has trained the martial art consistently throughout her professional career. Amanda's style represents the current apex of the sport as she has highly developed skills in every area of a fight. She currently holds 4 wins by submission and has proven that she has finishing skills on the feet and on the floor.

The UFC currently has 11 champions across all of its male and female divisions. Out of these 11 champions, 6 currently hold the rank of black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Ultimately, jiu-jitsu is an absolutely necessary part of a high level fighters' training program. Whether they plan to finish the fight on the ground with a submission or simply gain enough awareness to defend against common submission threats, it's clear that jiu-jitsu is highly effective and is only going to further evolve over time.

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Two-Time Black Belt Hall of Famer Hayward Nishioka has been campaigning for judo in the United States to harvest more shodans (1st degree black belts) Shodan literally means student. It's analogous to being a freshman in college. It's not the end but the beginning according to Jigoro Kano, the Founder of Judo.

A very dear friend and sensei of mine the late Allen Johnson, may he rest in peace made a home at Emerald City Judo. In Redmond, Washington.

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Destinee Tartuffe

My friend Destinee Tartuffe a 4th dan and Head Sensei at Good Time Judo in Santa Rosa, CA has always been a pioneer and developer in all her life endeavors. She first took over the judo program at Santa Rosa Junior Collegestarted by my old friend Terry Kelly upon his retirement then went on to complete getting her law degree, JD.

Recently Destinee contacted me about a new training tool she’s invented. Upon my investigation, I was so impressed with this product that I asked her to write something about it for this week’s Black Belt Blog.
Judo Equipment

Members of Good Time Judo using Judo Jaime Training Tools.

As judo practitioners we know judo is an exciting dynamic Olympic or recreational sporting activity that offers social interaction, stress relief, and tons of fun. However, we also know that judo can be a dangerous, and potentially deadly activity when used for self-defense or when not practiced safely.

For all the fun and benefit that judo provides an enthusiast it seems to be the world’s best kept secret from the general populace. My coach and mentor taught me that judo is an inclusive, not an exclusive activity. So, I look for ways to get more people interested.

One of the biggest issues relates to the very idea of inclusiveness, which for me translates to one dojo cannot be everything to everybody. The age old saying jack of all trades, and master of none comes to mind.

Recently, I watched YouTube videos of three respected Judo coaches discussing the state of Judo in the United States. One of their common observations is that students who come to train with them lack the fundamental skills which would allow them to actually help those students reach a level of Judo expertise whereby the student could compete at an elite level of competition.

While I was disappointed to hear their dire opinions, they were similar to what I was experiencing in my college classroom. Honestly, I have been concerned for many years about how to continue when so many of the students come to class with an attitude of being a “super ninja” when in actuality they are often uncoordinated and seemingly unwilling to follow even the simplest of instructions. This creates a situation or environment where “bullies” prevail, injures occur, and students are lost. This attitude seems a direct conflict to the principle of Mutual Benefit and Welfare, and it made me think about hanging up my judogi.

Then, COVID caused programs to close, but as a college Judo instructor I was tasked with creating an online curriculum for my students and doing so within one week! I knew my students did not have the proper safety equipment in their homes to continue with the rolls and falls that we were practicing in class. We spent the last eight weeks finishing out the semester via Zoom class. I found the biggest challenge to be communicating to the student how they needed to correct their postures, or their ability to visualize the skill and apply my instructions for any given lesson.

The last night of class of had a vision of how these issues could be addressed. That’s when I created the Fundamental Directional Movement Mat and a Proximity Training Device that I call Judo Jaime: Your Training Uke. These tools can be used together or separately. The benefits conferred to the user by using the tools together can greatly excel the beginning students understanding of the application of Judo.

These tools are not just for beginners, it is important for even the most experienced judoka to review the fundamental movements regularly. Think about it there are pre-arranged forms (katas) that specifically address movement!

The Fundamental Directional Movement Mat is a durable vinyl mat with an elliptical design (mapping the movement of the Judoka in the plane of applied Judo). The instructor whether in-person or in an online class can assist the student by directing them to orient either along the horizontal or vertical 180 degree lines, which are also used to demonstrate and solidify 90 degree turns/pivots that are important to the fundamental movements for application of Judo. The mat also has indicators for the student to see the 45 degree angle of technique application easier.

Judo Jaime: Your Training Uke is a proximity training device that allows beginning Judoka to develop the proper posture and understanding of the proximity for applying judo techniques without the resistance, frustration, or fear that working with a partner initially brings. My years of teaching adults have shown me that despite what the student says, they often approach contact with another with fear and the mistaken belief that over-powering or resisting their partner is the proper thing to do; however, one-half the goal of Judo is that someone falls down! With Judo Jaime the student has the opportunity to develop the confidence and skills to make an actual attack when they are ready to engage with a person.

The device weighs no more than five pounds and is approximately 53” in height (when assembled). It is easily transportable and fun to use vs. the usual training dummies which are awkward, heavy and unsafe to use without proper instruction or direct supervision. While either product can be used alone we recommend using the tools together. This allows the student to fine-tune visualization skills and apply techniques, here again, without resistance from a partner. The student will develop an understanding and integration of the techniques for proper response timing more quickly.

The Fundamental Directional Movement Mat and Instructional material is copyrighted by Destar Productions, Inc.

Judo Jaime: Your Training Uke is a proximity training device with a patent pending by Destar Productions, Inc. For questions regarding orders and other product descriptions email Destinee Tartuffe at senseidestinee@gmail.com or visit our online store directly.

Judo Jamie

Judo Jaime

Fundamental Direction Training Mat

Fundamental Training Mat

Good Time Judo Outdoor workout with Judo Jaime

Outdoor Judo Jaime2

Judo training Without a Partner/ Introduction of Training Tools for Standing

This video introduces some new training tools for practicing, maintaining and gaining skills for application of Judo technique.Be sure to check out the Demon...

Demonstration of Judo Jaime: Your Training Uke

Demonstration of Judo Jaime: Your Training UkeBe sure to check out our video Judo training while social distancing. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=heSY5VGeA6M

I’m always looking for new subjects to write about regarding judo as well as contributions from my readers. Please send them to gary@garygoltz.com, thanks.

Gary Goltz
Xiaolin Gruv
Photo Courtesy: Carmichael Simon

Title Image: XiaolinGruv Masters 2005 : Nigel Bolton, Carmichael Simon, Kory Watkins, Anthony Gooch, and Jeriel Bey

During the 1980s as BBoys (Breakers), Poppers, and Lockers share their creative spirits within the New York City transit line, Los Angeles nightlife, and media platforms such as Soul Train, we travel a few miles from Bruce Lee’s nostalgic school where the “Arts & Soul” of Oakland, California harmonize. Orchestrating the culture of their roots, heritage of movement, and diversity of social economics, we find the Alice Arts Center.

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