The remarkable growth of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu - SportsHotels - The sports accommodation experts

The remarkable growth of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

The first rule of Fight Club – that You Don’t Talk About Fight Club – would not seem to apply to the world of Ju Jitsu, which is one of the world’s fastest-growing sports. And everybody’s talking about it.

Loosely translated as the “Science of Softness”, or the “Gentle Art”, it evolved in Japan to help unarmed footsoldiers fight armed enemies using the least amount of force possible. It became the unarmed combat method of choice of the Samurai.

It was first mentioned in the UK in the Idler magazine in 1892, billed as “Japanese Fighting: Self Defence by Sleight of Body”. There are now more than 700 clubs across the UK, operating under the auspices of the British Ju-Jitsu Association Governing Body.

But, while the Japanese style of fighting has a venerable history and a jealously guarded code of ethics, that’s not what everyone is talking about at the moment. No, there’s a new gunslinger in town: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ).

This iteration of the ancient art has its origins in a wave of Japanese immigration to South America around the turn of the 20th century, and has been bubbling away for some time now in the colourful and often brutal world of Mixed Martial Arts.

What hurtled BJJ into the spotlight recently, with all the force of a Conor McGregor opponent smashing into the nets, was the news that Meta and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg not only took part in his first BJJ tournament, but walked away with gold and silver medals

The 38-year-old billionaire only took up the martial arts last year and, perhaps justifiably – and again, quite unlike Fight Club – has been waxing lyrical about it online and to eager listeners on The Joe Rogan Experience.

He is by no means alone. Jason Statham had the occasional tumble (in a jiu-jitsu sense) with director Guy Ritchie while on the Press tour for Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.

Other passionate advocates of BJJ include Henry Cavill, Tom Hardy, American surf legend Kelly Slater, Justin Bieber, for heaven’s sake, and Russell Brand – perhaps conscious of how many people want to strangle him.

Of course, traditional Jiu-Jitsu has its high-profile adherents too, though Vladimir Putin who, strangely, always seemed to win his bouts on the mat, is not really a poster boy for anybody these days.

What should we take from this? Well, one lesson is that, in an age when masculinity and male aggression in sports such as boxing and rugby are frowned upon in many quarters, perhaps the BJJ concept of yielding (although for advantage) has a particular resonance.

Traditional Jiu-Jitsu teaches the counter-intuitive idea of using an attacker’s own force against him (or her). It asks proponents to gauge the force of an attack, evade it without flinching and leverage it, as well as attacking nerves and pressure points.

What does this mean in business? Well, an obvious answer is that people who want to succeed should train themselves always to be in control of themselves. As in the sport, interactions should not be used to vent anger, or one’s own frustrations.

You can still go all out to win, and control the person you are up against, but you can also be gentle with your opponent while gaining advantage. In the current business climate, these could become invaluable attributes.

Sportshotels.com expects to host a Jiu-Jitsu event at one of its partner hotels, the prestigious Bridgewood Manor Hotel and Spa in Kent, later in the summer and, as well as the physical challenge, it is hoped that some important ethical lessons might be on the agenda.

All will be welcome, of course. So be sure to sign up for our newsletter to be notified when the event is announced. And remember, Chuck Norris became a black belt at age 75 – and, if Justin Bieber can do it, how hard can it be?

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