BJJ Poll: You Train Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Do You Consider Yourself a Martial Artist?

Blas wrote in to us here at The FightWorks Podcast, saying:

I asked a question to my former Jiu Jitsu Coach in Texas if he considered himself a Martial Artist.  Much to my surprise he said no…he said that Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is the Anti-Martial Art and thus doesn’t consider himself to be a Martial Artist.  This is coming from a black belt.  So I pose a question for a toll possibly.  How many of you BJJ players out there consider yourself to be a Martial Artist?  I’d be curious to see the answer. 

So what about you? You train Brazilian jiu-jitsu right? And do you think of yourself as a martial artist? Let us know by voting in the poll above and feel free to leave us a comment as well.

19 Replies to “BJJ Poll: You Train Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Do You Consider Yourself a Martial Artist?”

  1. i said “no” because of the things i feel we do that aren’t very martial in the historical sense as I think of it. (it could be my definition is wrong)

    1-we don’t bow, use honorifics or have really any codified sense of conduct.
    2-i’m training to fight other people who also know bjj. it is not for me to something i think about using off the mat really. could i, yes of course. but out training is very skewed to fighting another bjj person.
    3-we like brazil cause it gave us most of the people who started spreading bjj in the us. but as part of doing bjj you dont have to have brazil and it its traditions thrust upon you. many of us willingly take them, but its not required.
    4-there is not mysticism or spiritual aspect to bjj. nothing about freeing your mind and that sort of thing.
    5-if you want to fight, you are encouraged to. gi, no gi, mma. if you want it, go for it.

    I know there are examples against all of what I have just said but for me I feel these are reasons why I am not a martial artist in the pure sense. No more than a boxer or wrestler is. We don’t have the ceremony and such of muay thai, we don’t have to call people sifu and sensei.

    I’m a fighter. Simply that.

  2. I consider myself a martial artist , since I try to implement the principle of jiujitsu not only in my training but also off the mat .JIu–jitsu is also a concept .allow you to use flexibility of your mind and body to over come any obstacle . there is nothing mystical in this it is a pretty grounded reflection of who we are as individuals. The spiritual aspect in japan started also when the samurai had to deal with the prospect of death on a daily basis , then they associated the budhism principle to their warriors way of life or way of dying … I do believe that jiujitsu is a multidimensional discipline , you can experience it from a purely physical endeavor and nothing else … or it may have a deeper sense to you it can be a life style . personally it allows me to deal much more efficiently with stressful situation, or important assignment in my work . I think it is important to remember where jiujitsu comes from , and individual like the Gracies and Others don’t Forget it has for sure the Brazilian aspect to it . but mainly the asian philosophical aspect to it . I would Mention Rickson …. and others . and If you watch the very first UFCs featuring Royce ( even though the ” sport ” have changed ) then you can appreciate what really jiujitsu is , and this not only a matter of technique…
    I do think Also that behind the Technique there is a mind set …and if someone does jiujitsu without applying the principles or the meaning of the art then that person doesn’t do jiujitsu and you can train with a bunch of guys like that…Jiujitsu not only shape your body but definitely your mind…

  3. I voted ‘yes’ because I have trained in martial arts for over 20 years and see BJJ as a continuation of my journey in the martial arts, although I guess it is easy to argue that BJJ is not a martial art in the established sense of the term. I find I am increasingly referring to it as a ‘combat sport’, which I think would be more accurate.

    However, then you read, listen and talk to the true masters of BJJ, like many things – it goes around in circles and these guys talk about BJJ in a more spiritual sense.

  4. Brazilian Jiu-Jistsu is a martial art, a spiritual art, a life art. BJJ is unlike anything the world and the history of martial arts has ever seen. It is a way of life, as you sacrifice and accept that life is a beautiful struggle. We all have to find our way, our peace, our love, our rite of passage through the lifestyle of Jiu-Jitsu. Its a day by day journey living life to the fullest.

    “My code of life and my personal bushido is honour, respect, loyalty, courage and surrender.”

    Rickson Gracie

  5. Bjj could be seen also as a combat sport i think this is relevent to where we are in our lives young or more mature , depends on the instruction how the message is transmitted. body and mind goes together applying jiujitsu has an effect on our posture , technique and attitude. if you train jiujitsu as a aggressive fighting style …then you are on the dark side. For me I see jijujitsu as a long run commitment ( if my bones allow it… ) Ithink it also the case in any other martial Arts. I have started martial in 1976 . I am a black belt in judo and Kendo. I have been doing BJJ for the last 4 years.

  6. A “Martial Artist” is someone who is a practitioner of a combat art; Jiu Jitsu is a combat art. We may not get as hokey as the stereotypes surrounding typical Asian Martial Arts, but we trace are lineage to them. Not all Martial arts have such ritual heavy protocol as those from Japan, but even American Folk Wrestling falls under the definition of “Martial Arts”. I can understand ones desire, as a practitioner of BJJ, to avoid being associated with the watered down versions of Asian Martial Arts that permeate the country, but to say you are not a “Martial Artist” is just inaccurate.

  7. I’m with Michael on this, I think a lot of people think that the spiritual side is required to be a ‘Martial Artist’ because of portrayal in media.

    Anyone who studies a fighting art is a hence a martial artist. The U.S. military refers to the skills they teach as Martial Arts. Certainly in Japan there were Samurai that followed the spiritual codes of Bushido, but just as many saw no use in that and just concerned themselves with the simple code of ‘kill or be killed’ and the skills needed for that. They are all martial artists.

    My academy does have what they call the “Jiu Jitsu Lifestyle” which is basically clean living and such but they don’t push it as a part of the classes, just as a suggestion that they feel will help you take your game a step further.

  8. I’d say no, but it’s largely semantics on my part. While I would say I do martial arts, I wouldn’t say ‘I’m a martial artist’, in the same way that if I enjoyed playing football, I wouldn’t say ‘I’m a footballer’: to me, that makes it sound like a profession.

    Then there is the hokey element Michael mentioned, which isn’t something I’d want to associate myself with.

  9. I think I’m with Slidey on this one, at least to a point. I consider BJJ a martial art as much as a combat sport, but I am not a professional and I don’t associate myself with the “hokey” element other martial arts can be associated with. Do I participate in martial arts? Yes. Am I a martial artist? Not necessarily.

  10. I’d have to say yes. To me, an activity becomes a martial art when the martial (fighting techniques) enter every aspect of your everyday life and makes you face yourself in an honest way.

    I can honestly put my hand on heart and say that I have changed thru the training on the mat and that that change is evident off the mat too and that’s why I say that I’m a martial artist. The principles of jiu jitsu influence most of my off-the-mat activities (diet, relationships, work, gym, studying..etc.) and I am very grateful for that.

    I’m a part time grappler, but I’m a full time martial artist :o)

  11. I think it really depends on your mindset. The ‘martial’ is a given if you do the techniques and that can be a really mechanical effort. I think the ‘art’ comes from putting your own personal stamp on things, considering the possibilities and making it your own. We all do that and BJJ really gives us the tools and the canvas to do it without necessarily having the rigid backdrop of some of the more aesthetic arts.
    I forget who but someone once said, “learning martial arts is not very different from learning to dance. Anyone can move their arms like this and their legs like that but the real art comes from moving to your own rhythm.”

  12. The notion of art , is also the ability to express yourself through a technique a craft a medium …then with experience and assimilation you become the art itself …

  13. I voted that I am a martial artist, however, after doing some quick research I found I may have been wrong. I did a quick google search on “Martial Artist” to get a basic definition. A “Martial Artist” is someone who practices Martial Arts, so here is the definition of Martial Arts that I found (first line from Wikipedia):

    -Martial arts or fighting arts are systems of codified practices and traditions of combat

    I am now a believer that Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu IS actually an anti-martial art. Mainly due to the informality of the art, ie. no codified practices and traditions, which is what I absolutely LOVE about it.

  14. Jay – In my opinion that fact that BJJ has no particular codified practices or traditions which comes with most other martial arts is a BJJ tradition of its own.

  15. I hadn’t really thought about it before, but I don’t believe I’ve ever referred to myself as a martial artist. I only train BJJ and almost exclusively in the gi, but I call myself a grappler.

  16. I’m divorced and interesting in dating again, so I just tell guys I meet that I train in a Martial Art. Would scare too many off if I told them right off I train in a Combat art or Submission grappling- don’t you think? 🙂 Heck not having much luck tho so maybe I should try it!

  17. Ann- I’m with you.
    I was afraid the bruises would scare them off. I’m always hesitant to tell guys about what I do as a Grappler, in Martial Arts.
    It does scare them.
    What just because I can break arms, knees, legs?? What’s so scary about that?
    But then, I finally found someone who isn’t put off by my strength/skill set and doesn’t get jealous of the close positions we find ourselves in when rolling with guys.
    good luck-

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