"Competition has been shown to be useful up to a certain point and no further, but cooperation, which is the thing we must strive for today, begins where competition leaves off."
The Jiu Jitsu community is divided. This makes us less effective in sharing the immense value we have found in this art.
Jiu Jitsu teams span the globe. We come from different geographies, practice different philosophies, and each add our unique twist to the art, but we do so with one major flaw in our thinking.
Our division as competitive teams should not impede our unity as ambassadors of this art.
The intense rivalries in Jiu Jitsu competition are a blessing as they bring out the best in competitors who are at the forefront of the technical advancement of this craft. But when we see the forest for the trees, competition must give way to cooperation.
We have a responsibility to this art, our fellow man, and to unite the two. It’s so easy to forget this. We form deep relationships within our tribe and quickly learn to view ourselves as “us” and the outside world as “them.” Whether due to nationality, religion, or philosophy, this division is the fastest way to separate ourselves from others and create walls that become increasingly difficult to transcend.
We must remember the primary focus of sharing Jiu Jitsu with the world unites us in a common goal. So much of the world can benefit from this practice, and until we combine our efforts, many will never experience the art we love. It will be the humble few who lead by example and transcend this demarcation between tribes.
I speak from my own weakness. When a martial arts school pops up down the street, I immediately label them as inferior competition. The slightest introspection reminds me that they are pursuing the same path I am. They have committed their lives to serving others through this medium; our different banners reside under the same umbrella.
And that is why we call each other Brother.
I’m not proposing that we dissolve all lines of distinction in a dystopian attempt to forget our differences and meet in some compromised middle. I simply suggest we start to see things not in relation to ourselves, but in relation to humanity as whole. As we extend our circle of “us,” let’s chip away at our illusion of “them.”
And just maybe, if we can do this in grappling, we can do it everywhere else.