Old School Jiu Jitsu versus Modern Jiu Jitsu – which is better?

“Old school Jiu Jitsu is much better than Jiu Jitsu today….”

Guys, stop saying this, it doesn’t make any sense.

I’m writing this blog from Russia (sept 2018) where there still exists a certain nostalgia for that period when the soviet union existed. Can you believe it? I was in Moscow in 1997, returning now – the transformation of the city was incredible: historic yet modern, clean, safe. I was enjoying returning to the city 20 years later, and it was difficult to imagine that anyone would miss that period of the USSR. There is this nostalgic discourse that always exists when a situation is challenged to change. This happens in Jiu Jitsu as well. For example, an “old school” guy goes to a competition and sees a double guard pull and is angry because he doesn’t know how to resolve it, saying that old school Jiu Jitsu is much better.

I am old school right? I’ve been a black belt since 1989, I fought Vale Tudo before MMA existed. I competed between the ages of 15 and 43, so I think I really am “old” in every sense of the word! But never in the sense of evolving in Jiu Jitsu, and in my opinion anyone who says Jiu Jitsu in the old days is better or more efficient than today’s Jiu Jitsu is simply just nostalgic, someone that stopped in time and didn’t evolve. They probably don’t even train anymore and can’t understand what a champion is today.

This idea that Jiu Jitsu was better before is indefensible. Today’s techniques are infinitely more accurate and varied, guard options for example… just to give you an idea – the first rule of the FJJRJ (Federação de JiuJitsu Rio de Janeiro) had 3 sweeps: the scissor sweep, backwards sweep holding the heels, and the balloon sweep.

3 sweeps! So please, this subject should not even be discussed. Perhaps the argument could be about the efficacy of self-defense, but let’s think about who is more apt to defend themselves on the street: Isaque Baihense or a student of a self-defense program? I’m not talking badly about the self-defense, on the contrary it needs to be the focus point of any gym program but today’s athlete is on another level and so it just can’t compare. The improvisation level and reaction speed of a current champion prepares him so much more for a street situation than the choreographed self-defense drills inside a gym.

I remember really well the generation of fighters before me which was full of great sports idols that I looked up to. My generation was also full of talent, and the generation after me, even more. Each year the level goes up and up to the point where if we put the champions of that time against those of today, they couldn’t resist 10 minutes of fighting.

Do an exercise if you’d like: take the champions from the first world championship event and put them with today’s champions. I would have to fight with Preguiça (Felipe Pena) and as much as you may like me, you can’t say that I would win! Who would beat Lucas Lepri, Malfacine, Musumessi, Aly, Buchecha. This discussion is full of unrealistic nostalgia – I was there, and I keep active every day in the gym, following the main competitions, so I can tell you there is no comparison!

Whoever defends this idea either wants to deceive others or has stopped in time and no longer trains. It’s that simple! If you want to extend the discussion to Vale Tudo or real fights it just gets worse because MMA has also evolved a lot, and pure Jiu Jitsu fighters would have no chance these days where all fighters dominate various modalities. Open your mind to the progression of the sport. The fact that you were good in the past will not be erased, but it can’t make you any better than you are now. We have to live with that!

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Big Hug!


Uma opinião sobre “Old School Jiu Jitsu versus Modern Jiu Jitsu – which is better?

  • 16 de outubro de 2019 em 15:36

    Amei!! Penso exatamente assim!!!! o futuro é o agora. E a inteligencia está em sempre estarmos abertos a aprender algo novo ou vermos o antigo de uma forma diferente. Abs mestre


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