The new martial arts powerhouse in the world
September 10, 2001 7:33 AM   Subscribe

The new martial arts powerhouse in the world isn't China, and isn't Japan. It isn't in the Orient at all. It's Brazil.
posted by Steven Den Beste (31 comments total)
i love it when movie stars take martial arts, then incorporate it into the work. (they are the ones who got there asses kicked all the time in school) I would say they have a good form, but give me an older form without the add-ons. Id say this is a fad. also i hate when some one says"hit me, comeon(in exercise) because one would be a fool to strike when someone calls for it. Just wait them out, frazzle them, you,ll make contact. (a master should not condone your action, the refusal to strike when he wishes should reflect on the self, not instructor)
posted by clavdivs at 7:56 AM on September 10, 2001

actually, this is the new martial arts powerhouse in the world.
posted by lotsofno at 8:08 AM on September 10, 2001

Martial arts? Please. None of these people would stand a chance against a Krav Maga enthusiast.

Of course, for those of us with less time and/or lesser physiques, there are always handguns...
posted by dagny at 8:11 AM on September 10, 2001

I'm surprised that this is news in 2001, but I guess that this sort of thing isn't something that the mainstream media would necessarily stay up to date with. During the 90's, the Gracies were a real force in American full contact fighting championships like Ultimate Fighting. They have since been supplanted by American wrestlers and combo striker/submission fighters from places like the Lion's Den. Wth the one exception of Vitor Belfort, the Brazilians who have entered these more recent competitions have not fared so well.
posted by bump at 8:46 AM on September 10, 2001

Over the past decade, the Pentagon, the FBI and other U.S. law enforcement agencies, including Maryland's Howard County Police Department, have contracted with Gracie's sons for courses in Brazilian-style combat and self-defense.

Hmmm that's the funniest thing I read today!!! What next, the FSB is taking courses from Argentina? Anyways, that's pretty sad that this nation's best have to be trained by another nation's amateurs. Off course these are probably recruits (beign trained), but still...
posted by HoldenCaulfield at 8:57 AM on September 10, 2001

The Gracie family are amateurs, are they?
posted by Jairus at 9:05 AM on September 10, 2001

Ultimate Fighting was the coolest thing when it came out. I miss those days.

Gracies may excel in Jiu-Jitsu, but put them against good fighters in a no holds barred events and they would loose big.

I'm not trying to crap on their achievements, though. The article is 100% correct. They are an extraodinary family and an extraordinary group of fighters. Great businessmen also.
posted by Witold at 9:24 AM on September 10, 2001

Yes, let's get the obligatory "my martial art is better than your martial art" ball rolling.
posted by websavvy at 9:26 AM on September 10, 2001

You know what? You guys are right.

Gracie/Brazilian Jiu-jitsu is baseless. A fad.

Everyone move on. There's nothing to see here.
posted by JimFo at 9:33 AM on September 10, 2001

Then there's Capoeira, Brazil's true native martial art
posted by preguicoso at 9:57 AM on September 10, 2001

Even though they could kick my ass, I generally have to laugh at martial artists, especially of the (as clavdivs describes) "c'mon, hit me" school. Anyone who saw Ghost World recalls Brad Sheridan's brilliantly realized white- trash, mullet- haired "martial artist" Doug.
posted by hincandenza at 10:56 AM on September 10, 2001

This post (and the article it points to) are a few years behind too late.

Espescially since this guy beat the Gracie family's best fighters.
posted by octavius at 11:25 AM on September 10, 2001


"Capoeira is a martial art form that originated in the sixteenth century among slaves brought to Brazil from African nations such as Angola, Congo, and Guinea. "

Maybe you should actually read the webpage you cited, Preguicoso.

I'm disappointed but not surprised by the some of the ignorant comments in this discussion. Is Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu the best martial art in the world? Who knows? Who cares? The question is so subjective it's almost meaningless anyway. You may as well ask what is the world's best salad dressing.

Unlike most of armchair samurai in this thread, I've spent the last 15 years studying the martial arts. I hold a black belt in Tang Soo Do, and I currently study Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu. Anyone who doubts the efficacy or legitimacy of Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu is welcome to come to class with me (or write me and I'll help you find a BJJ school in your area.) I'm sure any questions or doubts you may have would be put to rest in short order.
posted by ratbastard at 11:38 AM on September 10, 2001

Hey now, haven't you all seen Only the Strong? A cult movie at best, but it represents the draw of, the movie was made in 1993!
posted by MeetMegan at 11:56 AM on September 10, 2001

*sigh* I can honestly say that I respect what Gracie did to evolve JJ.
BUt what a cocky buch of students/teachers they turn out... I have had the pleasure of being in matched against a few Gracie taught students, and while they were pretty competitive, they (and in fact the entire school) were poor sports. Also, as has been pointed out, thier style is very effective against styles that did not know how to defend against grappling, which is why they did real well in the Ultamate fights...

Ahh well, Im rambling. Bottom line - Efffective? Sure... Legit? Of course (Age does not an art make (Jeet Kun DO, and Tae Kwon Do come to mind)... but is it a "Martial Art" - not in my eyes... because I have never seen any spiritualism from them...

posted by niteHawk at 11:59 AM on September 10, 2001

Actually, ratbastard, Preguicoso is more right than you are. Capoeira did not arrive in Brazil as capoeria - it evolved from the different native martial arts that the slaves brought with them. Since they were all thrown together on plantations, their sense of national identity, as it were, was destroyed. Capoeira was developed from their similar backgrounds. So, it's not really native, but in a way, it is.

And anyway, was the harshness of that calling down really necessary? Yeesh.
posted by starvingartist at 12:28 PM on September 10, 2001

but is it a "Martial Art" - not in my eyes... because I have never seen any spiritualism from them...

Martial: Characteristic of or befitting a warrior
Art: 1. High quality of conception or execution, as found in works of beauty; aesthetic value.
2. Skill that is attained by study, practice, or observation: the art of the baker; the blacksmith's art.

What about the long-standing schools of fencing in Spain and Italy? Or German schlager duellists? They are masters of their art, and it certainly is martial. Spiritual? No. Martial art? Yes. Just because it doesn't come from that one corner of the world doesn't mean it's not a "Martial Art".
posted by starvingartist at 12:33 PM on September 10, 2001


Respectfully, I disagree. The base techniques of Capoeira did not originate in Brazil. It is no more native to Brazil than the 16th-century African slaves who practiced it.

As for my harshness toward preguicoso, it is possible that my disdain for some of the other commentors in this thread was vented unfairly at him/her. Preguicoso's comment was certainly not the most ignorant one out of this thread, and if I corrected him/her too harshly, then I apologize.
posted by ratbastard at 12:58 PM on September 10, 2001


I've been training Capoeira for years. My first Master was Mestre Acordeon, who pretty much brought the art to the United States.

Nobody has been able to tie Capoeira 100% to Africa. That is to say, most in the field agree that Capoeira as we know it evolved IN Brazil. Most likely, the fighting techniques of geographically dispersed Africans mixed during the colonial era in Brazil. Many of those motifs were no doubt African. However, Capoeira did NOT exist before African slaves came to Brazil.

Further, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu was no doubt influenced by Mestre Bimba's Capoeira Regional, which borrowed from the Asian martial arts (to the dismay of some Capoeira purists).

And let's face it - Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is ugly as hell. Grappling? No thanks. I'll keep working on my Capoeira flow, thanks....
posted by preguicoso at 1:49 PM on September 10, 2001

stupid keyboard...
posted by preguicoso at 1:50 PM on September 10, 2001

True. But when it comes to defending my life, I think I'd rather look bad and win than look good and lose.
posted by ratbastard at 2:06 PM on September 10, 2001

remember the hidden character from 'bust-a-move', or 'bust-a-groove' in the u.s.? capoeira! (they were conjoined grey roswell aliens)
posted by elle at 2:10 PM on September 10, 2001

more rythm!
posted by lotsofno at 3:30 PM on September 10, 2001

Capoeira Angola = Heavy on the art, light on the martial

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu=Heavey on the martial, light on the art.

But, yes, faced with street thugs, I'd prefer the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. That's some harsh stuff...
posted by preguicoso at 3:44 PM on September 10, 2001

Definintions always beat me down :-) Something that I consider essential to someting labeled a "martial art" is the spiritual side. That doesn't mean that I am discounting other fighting arts just because of thier origin in western culture, as a matter of fact, I would consider most crusaders practitioners of a martial art (althoug I may disagree with the WHY of what they did). I just tend to think of fencing as a fighting style, or an art form - just not a martial art.... but again - not a chance do I want to insult practitioners....

posted by niteHawk at 4:46 PM on September 10, 2001

my martial art is fencing...but a great friend of mine was one of the first Lion's Den students and a former roomie with Oleg Taktarov, aka "The Russian Bear"[]. I've watched a lot of pit fighting, Ultimate, and other videos with him, my take on styles after talking with him is this: Against 1 opponent, the submission/grappling/gracie fighter wins if they get on the ground, which usually happens [unless the grappler gets kicked in the face and knocked out]. Against more than 1 opponent, you obviously don't want to be on the ground at all.

My strategy is The Way of Avoidance. Any ideas on the best multi-opponent martial art? Applied, not practiced against other students? I'm shopping around.
posted by th3ph17 at 5:26 PM on September 10, 2001

Like I said, turn around, there's nothing to see here. Brazilian Jiu-jitsu blows. There's no spirituality to it. It doesn't work. Their instructors and students are arrogant.

There is no art to it. No style. No technique. No subtlety.

I agree. I agree. I agree.

So move on, don't waste your breath.


Ratbastard, I too am a student of Gracie Jiu-jitsu. My first instruction was about ten years ago at Steven Maxwell's gym in Philadelphia, PA by Royce Gracie. I then earned my blue belt under Craig Kukuk (the first American Gracie Jiu-jitsu black belt). I don't study anymore, but I do train from time to time with my brother-in-law who goes to NYC once per week to study with Renzo.

I was making these arguments 8 or 10 years ago on a martial art bulletin board on CompuServe (before the dot com days). I debated the nature of martial arts. I debated the nature of fighting. I was vindicated. I was right.

Regardless of what anyone says, Brazilian Jiu-jitsu -- specifically Rorion Gracie who exported it to America -- changed the nature of world wide martial arts.


To everyone else, turn around and go back to your dojos. There's nothing to see here.
posted by JimFo at 6:59 PM on September 10, 2001

th3ph17 - Combinnig some sort of shoot fighting matrial arts ( Jiu-Jitsu, Samba ) with a striking martial arts ( Tae-Kwon-Do, Muay-Thai ) would be the best to ensure you kick ass both standing up and lying down.
posted by Zool at 7:59 PM on September 10, 2001

I don't know what you call making wise-ass remarks and then being beaten to pulp and then bleeding on your attacker enough to gross them out into submission ( as featured in Fight Club) but I've been a master of this for years.
posted by dong_resin at 8:27 PM on September 10, 2001

OK, I'm martial arts challenged. Love physical activity of most kinds, but just can't fold into artistic combatery.

So, a somewhat OT question from a skeptical philistine...

How come I never hear true stories of unlikely ladies and or gentlemen emptying a bar with flashing feet and momentum re-direction? Hell, I never even hear stories of one-on-one confrontations during which a belted one bloodies the evil linebacker. Apart from devotee's having achieved the spiritual good taste to avoid fights in the first place, to what can I attribute this dearth of heroic fray?
posted by Opus Dark at 9:21 PM on September 10, 2001

Sorry if I was overly harsh in my earlier comments. I was in a vile mood yesterday, and I'm sorry for the manner in which I expressed myself, especially to you, preguicoso.
posted by ratbastard at 7:15 PM on September 11, 2001

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