Personally, I reject the notion of “having a game” in Jiu-Jitsu for many reasons.
A “game” limits the practitioner’s ability. It tends to funnel the practice to preferred methods of training, which keeps us in a comfort zone.
This results in becoming blind to the practice as a whole. That’s why you’ll often see that those who are very good at Jiu-Jitsu still might not be able to handle themselves on the street or in self-defense situations.
This is not our objective.
We want to have a more holistic approach to our practice and to our lives overall. Without a holistic approach, we can fall prey to a similar problem in our everyday lives.
For instance, I for one believed that I wouldn’t feel a midlife crisis because I did the things in my life I wanted to do. I had my game down.
I knew what I knew and I could lay my trip on everybody.
However, peeling back some of those layers that I thought kept me insulated, I realized that what I was doing that whole time was just remaining in my comfort zone. As a result, no small measure of anxiety sprang up on me as I arrived at that very age and stage of my life.
I had an a-ha moment that some essential pieces were missing.
It’s important for us as practitioners, in and out of the dojo, on and off the mats, to look at every part of our lives in training, and get in there, heading right to the places that we don’t want to see.
So, with Jiu-Jitsu, if, for example, you don’t like being mounted, well, guess what? That’s where you’ve got to go!
Whether you are in or out of the gi, the knee-elbow method is the most predominant “escape”. If that doesn’t work, then you’d better be prepared for something else that will work! Trap a foot, grab an arm, and then “bridge”.
In whatever weird scenario we can drum up that applies to us daily, we’d better think in unlimited terms. The day may come when we’re going to have to enter that place we’ve not dared to go before and face what we’re least prepared to take on.
My genuine hope is that everyone, including students of the martial arts, is prepared for that day so that we are not shocked and reactive. Instead, we can ease into it with confidence and grace.
We garner that from the training, from ongoing practice and discipline. It gives us the assurance and the courage to unveil the light from within to extinguish the dark places.
To step outside our comfort zone and protest it and to look beyond the borders of limitation is refusing to settle into the games we know best…and challenge the ones we don’t!
– Gene Dunn & Foundation of Love
For more about our larger project of cooperative Jiu-Jitsu and martial arts training, please visit the
Brooklyn Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (Brooklyn BJJ) website here.