Oh, the places you can go! Jiu-Jitsu back in the day used to be a rare martial art only seen in a few select countries such as Brazil and Japan, but man has that changed over the years.
One reason why the sport has the potential to be in the Olympics someday is that it has now become a worldwide sport that can be found in almost every country around the world. Also, not only does it just exist in many countries, but it is immensely popular wherever it is located.
The beautiful thing about being involved in jiu-jitsu is that it can take you to a million different places around the globe. There is an endless amount of academies and an endless amount of people to learn from and train with.
In this past year, I have already trained and taught in two different countries—Ottawa, Ontario, Canada in March and, currently, in San Jose, Costa Rica. During my time in these two countries, I have witnessed many different perspectives of the sport from many different people. I have seen different ways people train, what their styles are, how they mentally approach training and competitions, and so on. Every school has something unique to offer, a different quality that another gym may not have. This doesn’t make one any better than the other, but the paths to mastering the sport may vary between the different academies.
What is also interesting about the development of our sport around the world is that it is being done in such a short period of time. Only ten years ago, jiu-jitsu did not exist in Costa Rica—not one school could be found. Now ten years later, there are numerous schools, and the biggest one—the Athletic Advance, run by Fernando Moya, Juanito Barrantes and Ariel Sexton—is slowly turning into an empire as the two-floor gym is always busy from 6 a.m. until 9 p.m. from Monday through Saturday.
Just imagine what jiu-jitsu could be like in another ten years.
If you ever follow the Mendes Brothers, Rafael and Guilherme, you will see that they can give an even greater insight on just how global jiu-jitsu has become. Whenever they complete their competition season, every week they go to a different gym in a different state or country to teach a seminar. From what I can recollect, they have been all over Europe, Asia, Japan, Australia, Brazil and the United States. Can you even begin to fathom how many different styles and perspectives of the sport they have seen through their journeys?
In competition, the sport is still dominated by Brazilians. At the highest level there have been only two Americans—BJ Penn and Rafael Lovato Jr.—to win the black belt World championships. But as the sport continues to develop around the world, so does its competitors. Soon, not only the young guns of the U.S. will be battling for gold, but so will the Europeans, Japanese, Asians, Australians and so on.
This year of 2012 has brought me a new perspective of the sport, and now I see the development of the sport occurring right before my very eyes. It can be found everywhere and different styles are endless. The question now is how much farther the sport can grow from here.
Where do you see the sport in ten years from now? Comment below and let yourself be heard! Osss!
Photo: Rafael and Guilherme Mendes (Gracie Mag)