This was previously published on the 4th of July, 2009. I received a few favorable comments about it and decided to repost it with a few adjustments.
I hate stew. I don’t know if it’s because I was forced to eat it as a child, or if I came out of the womb with an aversion to it. Still, I hate stew. It’s chunky, thick, and messy. I guess what I truly dislike about it is that it tries to be too many things at one time. It’s got broth, meat, corn, potatoes, etc. It contains whatever the “chef” decides to toss in. You don’t know what you’re getting. I’d rather just eat everything separately, not as a huge lump of garbage.
Many jiu-jitsu instructors seem to like stew. I mean, at least the few who are open to different ways of doing things. Some of them will throw in some sambo and judo. Those who teach MMA fighters will usually toss in some muay Thai, sprinkle in some boxing, and mix in a whole lot of wrestling. What you end up with is a mosaic of styles, none of them assimilated into the whole. You end up with a stew.
My goal has always been to find jiu-jitsu, not add to it. What I mean by that is, I try to find the jiu-jitsu in other styles. I look for the jiu-jitsu in boxing, wrestling, muay Thai, sambo, judo, karate, etc. Jiu-jitsu is all about efficiency. It’s about not using strength, weight, or size. It’s about finding the essence of everything and having things fit that essence. I do it with everything, or at least try to. I try to find the jiu-jitsu in poetry, relationships, working out, kayaking, art, and everything else that interests me.
Jiu-jitsu is the “smooth art.” It isn’t a block of wood onto which you can tack anything you like. Not everything fits into it smoothly. Only jiu-jitsu fits into jiu-jitsu. You have to find the right puzzle pieces, or else the picture will come out all wrong. That’s why you have to find the jiu-jitsu in everything if you’re going to join those pieces.
I hate stew. But I think a lot of people are creating stews out of jiu-jitsu. Go to their websites and you’ll see “this art” added to “that art” in their jiu-jitsu. You can actually see where the various arts join. Almost as if they were badly welded together and you can see their hideous fault lines. They end up looking like those half men/half beast creatures of Greek mythology. But if enough time was taken to find the jiu-jitsu in the other arts, they would simply absorb smoothly without effort. I can’t really tell you how to do this. I think it comes with time. It comes with an intimate knowledge of one’s jiu-jitsu. You have to understand what jiu-jitsu is before you can find it elsewhere. But if we’re to avoid making yet another stew, we need to know our jiu-jitsu, then find it in everything we do.
© William Banks and “The Jiu Jitsu Professor” 2014. All content of this blog and website, unless specifically noted otherwise, is protected under U.S. copyright. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material in whole or part without express written permission from this blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to William Banks as author and “The Jiu Jitsu Professor” as source with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.