Booty Scoot Jiu Jitsu: It’s not Fighting, and it’s Not Entertaining

The BJJ world has been buzzing over the double disqualification of Keenan Cornelius and Paulo Miyao after their snooze-fest of a match at the 2013 Abu Dhabi World Pro Jiu Jitsu tournament. Watch the match, but only if you can endure the boredom. The only person in this video who does anything interesting is the referee who issues three warnings and ultimately disqualifies both competitors, to the obvious relief of the crowd.

Get in my Guard, bro!

I believe this is a defining moment for Jiu Jitsu. It is now impossible to ignore the fact that the disruptive reboot of Kodokan Judo that changed everything in 1993 has mutated into the static, uninspiring combat sport it is now. It is a combat sport whose top competitors have sat on the mat, scooted toward each other, and assumed the “50/50” position – an arrangement better known in the LGBT world as “scissoring” – for the duration of their match. It’s embarrassing, really. It’s like something you’d come up with to make fun of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. We are witnessing the rise of Booty Scoot Jiu Jitsu. It would be funny if it weren’t so tragic.

My first Jiu Jitsu coach used to say that every martial art starts as a legitimate system for unarmed combat and that people, who are morally weak, pursue short term goals like chasing medals. This causes the martial art to devolve into one of two things: Sport or Dance. He didn’t use the term “Medal Chaser,” but most of you know to whom and to what I’m referring.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is not immune to the “Sport or Dance” trap. Helio Gracie developed a novel fighting system that changed no-rules fighting. Those who train only to compete in grappling tournaments have made a conscious decision to depart from the art’s hard-knock origins. Sport Jiu Jitsu has become such a different beast that I don’t think a single name is sufficient to contain both the body of techniques one studies for MMA, Combatives, or self-defense, and this new sport that everyone wants to play. It’s clear enough what Sport Jiu Jitsu is – it’s right there in the first word. It’s a combat sport, just like Judo, or Fencing.

Some call it ironic that the first place went to Kaue Damasceno, who was disqualified in the semifinals for slamming Keenan. I say this just sends the message that, in this combat sport, passivity is seen as a greater sin than over-aggressiveness. That should be obvious enough. If Jiu Jitsu is a Sport, then it’s also entertainment.

Gladiator Screenshot

Maximus understood the meaning of spectacle.

Are you not entertained?

Sport is entertainment, and entertainment is spectacle (Spectacle, from the latin spectare, to watch). Every professional sportsman labors in the service of spectacle. He or she lives on money that starts out in the hands of spectators (there it is again) and sponsors. All combat sports enforce activity: The boxing ref breaks up the clinch. The Judo referee stands the Judoka up after 30 seconds of ne waza. And apparently, Abu Dhabi’s refs will disqualify you for playing Booty Scoot Jiu-Jitsu.

Let’s go back to Keenan and Paulo’s match. It amounts to a bunch of grip fighting and ineffectual ankle-groping. Neither opponent is willing to take any appreciable risks from the outset, opting instead for unconventional tactics like the upside-down guard Keenan tries in the first minute of the match. While both competitors appeared at times to be looking for submissions, there was no attempt to improve position. The match is a stalemate from the get-go. The cheer from the crowd after the ref announces the double DQ says it all: They were not entertained.

I feel bad for these competitors, as they are professionals who worked hard for a paycheck and walked away with nothing. But in the end they have chosen, as their profession, to be competitors in Sport Jiu Jitsu,  an evolving and unpredictable job that didn’t even exist ten years ago. They have committed a great sin: that of being entertainers who are not entertaining.


11 thoughts on “Booty Scoot Jiu Jitsu: It’s not Fighting, and it’s Not Entertaining

  1. The trend towards pussifications of contact sports is by no means limited to BJJ. Rules dictate the progression of the sports. Look at football (American) and the no head contact or horse collar rules for example. The athletes are paid millions of dollars to entertain us and can’t accept the fact that they will endure spinal and or/brain damage as a result of the game. Look at modern Judo, which has taken away moves that initiate the grabbing of an opponent’s legs. I’m sorry, a black belt should be able to stop a single leg take down, but that’s not going to be the case. In BJJ, there’s really very little incentive to learn the art of a successful take down. Pulling guard, which quite honestly is an inferior position in any street fight because of the possibility of slams, head kicks, ground and pound, etc., is not penalized either on points or advantage.

    If the point system gives the opponent 2 points for a take down and all I want to work on is the ground game, screw it, I’m jumping guard to deny the opponent an opportunity for 2 points. I will accept what in reality is inferior position but in a sport context is a 50/50 position so that I can sweep or sub.

    Jiu Jitsu was invented as a means to fight an armored samuri in the field of combat. It’s getting close to high time that people remember that this shit is meant to be used in life or death situations and we need to make rules that are in the spirit of survival. I think this begins with penalizing those that concede position that would be inferior if used on concrete.

  2. Double Guard pulling something I think should be discouraged. However, it’s not like this is typical of BJJ matches, or even those of those two fighters. Don’t make it more than what it was.

    • But it IS typical of these two fighters when they fight each other. Look at their past fights. They have 2 or 3 and they all look the same. Double guard pull, 50/50, try and berimbolo the whole time.

  3. A sensei of mine once said “You don’t pull guard in the street” perhaps the rules should be rewritten that if you pull guard to forfeit 2 points to your opponent in lieu of a take down score being denied.

    • Interesting read! My objection if any, was hot both Keenan and Paulo were surprised about the call. Please read my blog and how I broke it down with its possible solution:

    • 2 points seems like a lot. I think at this high of a level just giving the opponent of the guard puller an advantage point would discourage it enough.

  4. I literally can’t believe this isn’t a hoax. I’m far from an old-school purist, but these two should be embarrassed. How do you consider yourself top-level and perform like this in Abu Dhabi? No coach should be proud to have produced players like this.

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