Brazilian jiu-jitsu is used as a self-defense system, as a combat sport, and as a fundamental building block in the construction of a MMA fighter. It is an art that houses dozens of styles beneath its umbrella. While there are genres of painting such as romanticism, abstract, and impressionism, the grappling community has their own too. Guerrilla Jiu-Jitsu, CGJJ, commissioned by Dave Camarillo, and the entire rubber guard system, lovingly created by Eddie Bravo, are but just two of the styles employed today by elite fighters around the globe. Since its development by Mitsuyo Maeda and the Gracie’s, the sport has been in a state of continuous evolution. Evolution can be defined as a gradual process in which something changes into a different and usually more complex or better form. Like a spoke in a bicycle tire, Brazilian jiu-jitsu is a vital component to the structural integrity of a mixed martial artist. As the sport of MMA continues to skyrocket in popularity, so goes the art of BJJ. It boils down to Economics 101, supply and demand. As more fans make the choice to become practitioners, the necessity of instructors increases as well. The result of having more students and teachers adding their techniques? Evolution. It is inevitable.
Having black belts in both Judo and Jiu-Jitsu, Dave Camarillo of Guerrilla Jiu-Jitsu (CGJJ) combines the rare abilities to launch a human into an Earth-orbiting ippon while then closing the deal by hyper-extending their elbow. As a student and teacher, he recognized the value of adapting grappling systems to suit current needs and to address perceived shortcomings. “CGJJ is unique because it comprises the experience of an elite Judoka, an accomplished jiu-jitsu practitioner, and a world class trainer,” straight from Mr.
Camarillo himself. “It is a step away from tradition, it is free from the constraints of ego,” and “it is open minded and gains knowledge through experience.” CGJJ wholeheartedly believes in allowing for freedom of the student. Evolution is assured when such liberties are encouraged. Assuming a traditional technique utilized in CGJJ no longer is applicable, or simply requires some minor tweaking, the student owns the ability to remodel it. Back in the olden days, like the 1990’s, it was blasphemy to train anywhere other than your own school; you were branded a “creonte,” Portuguese for traitor. How can any revolutionary evolution occur if there is no outside knowledge filtering back in? He believes that if a student is isolated to solely one instructor, that student will not reach their full potential, there is a CGJJ shirt that reads “Train With Everyone.”
Another modification that Dave saw as necessary was to instill a killer instinct into his trainees. He feels as though fighters are mentally and physically tougher than your ordinary grappler is, “BJJ players focus on the technique. Most of the time technique is not enough; a participant has to have developed their attributes adequately to push their technique in stressful situations. Points are not a desirable focus in the combative arts.” Mr. Camarillo wanted “competent grapplers, not tournament savvy competitors.” He doesn’t mind when students don’t win grappling contests, but he finds it unacceptable if one of his trainees struggles in subduing a violent opponent should they ever have to. Thus, the unorthodox brand of Guerrilla Jiu-Jitsu was formed. “CGJJ is not compounded with the idea that points are a desirable focus for combative arts.” While Dave combined portions of judo, MMA grappling, and submission wrestling into his successful formula, Josh Koscheck and Jon Fitch can attest to that, Eddie Bravo invented a system that relied primarily on the combatants and their skills rather than the uniform being worn.
If you discuss evolutionary grappling styles boisterously enough, chances are someone will mention Eddie Bravo, beloved master of the rubber guard, twister side control, and thetwister Records label (check it out on myspace.com.) Love him or hate him, don’t know how anyone can hate him, his visionary take on grappling has revolutionized the process of evolution. While watching some of the earlier UFC events, Bravo noticed a vastly different success rate between BJJ tournament participants and octagon fighters. At first he expected the experienced grapplers to be victorious, but soon he realized that without their familiar gi handles, most BJJ practitioners were floundering on the ground, they were no longer sharks in a grounded ocean. They were beginning to fail at an increasing rate due to both the fighters not wearing gi’s and the opponents training heavily on submission defense. Eddie became crazed with the sport and saw the need for adaptation. Asked what he would call his style of grappling, Mr. Bravo responded with Greco-Roman jiu-jitsu but not because attacking the legs was to be off limits. He is still a firm believer in the age-old standard of position before submission, however he no longer trains wearing the traditional gi. Even in his own system, he encourages modification; it is practically inevitable as his student’s train heavily applying the rubber guard. With so many pupils attempting to master the style, the students must adapt and come up with new ways to launch attacks and defend sweeps and submissions, otherwise rolling sessions would end in stalemates. Two rubber guard proponents, Dustin Hazelett and Shinya Aoki, rarely see their matches end in stalemates, or decisions for that matter. Of the 12 recorded wins in his career, Hazelett has made his opponents cry uncle 11 times. Aoki on the other hand has tapped 11 of his 19 victories out via submission. These are both incredibly high success rates when compared to recent UFC averages. Of the last five UFC events, only 11 of 50 matches have ended via submission (7 of which were chokes, implying no specific guard system was needed), an average of 22%. Hazelett and Aoki combined? 71%. The percentage of Hazelett and Aoki is slightly misrepresentative because perhaps the rubber guard wasn’t employed to administer the submissions but one can’t ignore the massive difference in the rate of success. One thing that bothers Eddie Bravo about the development of BJJ is what he sees as a lack of evolution. With all of the participants scattered throughout the globe, we should be seeing more innovation and modification.
Lacking development in BJJ can only lead to stagnation, use your own grappling game as a comparison, what happens when you only administer your game in a certain manner? Take the Rousimar Palhares fight against Dan Henderson. While Palhares obviously had a certain game plan he wanted to follow, and has since thankfully changed said game plan, attempting to pull guard repeatedly was not only unsuccessful but made him appear unwilling to engage. Even in the spur of the moment, with the outcome of his debut UFC fight on the line, he chose to stick with a faulty game plan rather than adapt on the fly. Asked to come up with one word for grappling, Dave Camarillo opted for flow, Eddie Bravo chose fun. Flowing is probably just a shortened version of going with the flow, allowing things to occur naturally. When a BJJ player flows, he opens up his game, the entire repertoire expands, and both his colleagues and teachers benefit from this experimentation and growth. This is how evolution occurs. And with reality TV showcasing MMA, the fan base will only continue to expand thereby creating more potential students. With the resultant influx of instructors, all showcasing their styles, this too can only help to augment the growth.