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Fight vs. Match, by Rolles Gracie

I was having dinner with my wife the other night, (Açai and apple/cheddar quesadillas), and I was telling her that my cousin Renzo had a fight this coming Saturday. She replied, “What fight? He’s fighting MMA again?” I told her it was a grappling superfight. She asked me why Brazilians say “fight” when in reality it is a MATCH. This is true, and I usually say “match.” But this time, I had said “fight” for whatever reason. Good side of it is that it encouraged me to write about this matter.

As teachers, we are responsible for educating about Jiu-Jitsu. We have been making a mistake for years in using the word “fight” instead of “match” when it comes to Jiu-Jitsu or grappling. This is probably one of those things that has gotten lost in translation. The Portuguese word “luta” directly translates into “fight.” Ask Google translator and you’ll see. The point is we Brazilians have been using this term so much that I’ve even been seeing Americans now calling a Jiu-Jitsu match a “fight.”

Jiu-Jitsu literally means “the gentle art.” It is the martial art where the physically weak can be matched against the physically strong and still prevail using leverage instead of brute strength. Using the word “fight” gives the impression that Jiu-Jitsu is violent, which is simply not the case. It’s not from today that people associate the UFC and MMA with Jiu-Jitsu. A lot of times when I invite someone to train, they say that it’s not for them and then I have to explain that we don’t punch each other in the face during class. So that general idea together with my wife’s point triggered a thought in my head.

Could this have something to do with the new sanctions to Jiu-Jitsu and grappling in the state of Illinois? Maybe these politicians were misinformed and perhaps they’ve heard the word “fight” being thrown around and now they are lumping Jiu-Jitsu in with MMA and treating it as a violent sport. Wouldn’t it be a shame if this were the case?

So, I think we, as teachers, need to be more careful in the language that we use and go deeper with our teaching about the history of Jiu-Jitsu. That history will be the theme of an entry on my blog coming soon.

* Rolles Gracie is our GMA and a Jiu-Jitsu professor in New Jersey.

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