The Evolution of BJJ Over Time.

I was in class recently. As an aside our coach casually mentioned some specific details about the technique that we were learning. Impressed, my training partner remarked to me ‘that’s black belt knowledge right there’. I initially agreed with him, but then upon reflection, responded with ‘I guess it’s blue belt knowledge now hey?’

His statement got me thinking. The tips, techniques and concepts that took the black belts of previous generations years to learn will be naturally handed down to their students. Thus, the abilities of a current blue belt will be far superior to a blue belt of previous generations, as, through their instructor, they have had an accelerated learning experience.

They have learnt from their instructor’s previous experiences, mistakes and countless taps. Things that would have taken years to discover and implement are now freely given to students. I am not saying that current lower ranks will perform it as well as their instructors, or even understand it as well as they do.

What I am saying is that current BJJ student’s potential knowledge pool is significantly deeper. In addition, the staples of BJJ, which is what is vitally important, are constantly getting discovered and refined. Any half-decent instructor will strive to ensure their students understand these points and never lose sight of a strong foundation from which to grow and develop.

Take a couple of basic principles: when mounted, keep your arms close (t-rex arms) and maintain a low, balanced base when in someone’s guard. These concepts had to be discovered through countless hours of trial and error. Thousands of failures, taps and successes cumulating in what is now taught to kids on their first day of training.

The apex of knowledge of previous masters is now taught as beginner syllabus. Following this trend forward, BJJ will continue to evolve and change. I predict that it will continue to improve in leaps and bounds. With the ability level required to reach each belt level rising over time. With each new discovery proliferating through the community, the quality and ability of all practitioners must improve to keep up with them.

The same is true of MMA – just take a look at the best fighters from the early UFC days. Whilst amazing for their time, they would most likely struggle against the rookie undercards of today’s events. The fighting ability has and will continue to improve.

I wonder what exotic technique or revolutionary line of thought of today will become the core concept of tomorrow. I guess I will have to wait and see!

Zac Phillips