Grappling With 2020: Jiu Jitsu in a Weird Year
For centuries, Jiu Jitsu as an art form has been growing and evolving. Incorporating new mindsets. Allowing for innovation. Dominating culture and captivating the attention of even the non-practitioner.
For many of us, it might feel like that evolution took a hiatus in 2020. Due to COVID-19 and a new worldwide focus on “social distance”, BJJ felt like it was in danger, because there is nothing less socially distant than grappling.
So we stepped back and adapted. Some found new ways to train virtually. Some created grappling dummies. Training bubbles with a very limited group became common. When that wasn’t possible, many schools survived through their creativity - creating virtual classes and socially distant solo drills. On the flipside, many schools unfortunately closed.
It hasn’t been a perfect year for our art. It’s been messy. But as institutions evolve, especially one as old as BJJ, some low points are just as common as high ones.
As we step into 2021, with a vaccine on the horizon, we can’t forget what we learned as we examined our art in isolation. For all of us, there was immense value in reevaluation - our goals, our practices, our reasons for getting on the mat.
This journal started with a look at isolation, and it will continue to grow as we grow through cultural upheaval after cultural upheaval. One way or another, we will continue to see the world, to take care of ourselves, to manage our mental stimulation, to divert, to augment, to confront the things that scare us, and to keep showing up, whatever “showing up” looks like in 2021.
And when history looks back at this period, future generations of grapplers will be grateful that even though we had to fight a little harder, we still never stepped off the mat.