Confessions of a BJJ White Belt: Martial Jazz

 

An old acquaintance of mine walked into the academy the other day and mentioned he had been wanting to get back to training after some time off. He said that he had heard good things about our gym, and after a couple training sessions, he was hooked again and decided to sign-up. In talking about his experience with martial arts in the past, he mentioned that he had a few black belts and had trained in many different styles of martial arts but, he added, he had always viewed BJJ as the “Jazz of martial arts” i.e. - the most difficult style to master…and he had therefore decided to tackle it last.

 

 

Interesting concept.

 

 

 

If BJJ is indeed the zenith of the martial arts universe (which it is of course, to us anyway), if it is comparatively the "Jazz" of the hand-to-hand combat disciplines...then I wonder, which of the musical genres could some of the other popular martial arts be associated with?

 

 

 

First of all let’s just get this out of the way.

 

 

 

Tai Chi would no doubt have a similar effect on most of us as a nursery rhyme does on a baby….soothing and calming with mythical undertones.

 

 

 

No disrespect Tai Chi!!!....just an observation.

 

 

 

Moving along, for the purposes of this discussion we would have to agree that, aside from jazz, the difficulty of the many music genres would level-out somewhat but the style of these sub-sets is what would really set them apart.


 

And thusly, we shall compare and contrast them.


 

First, TaeKwonDo would have to be Pop music. Technically not the hardest of disciplines but let me tell you, it’s fun, it’s loud, it’s colorful and if you want to keep up with that K-Pop beat for more than a minute, then you’d better be in shape brother!!!

 

Karate in all of its forms reminds me a lot of rock music. Strong and thumping with a good beat but usually adhering to a standard format similar to karate’s “kata.” Karate is no doubt a tough style to master but it lends itself to the regimented and disciplined mind.

 

To me, Kung Fu sounds a lot like “World” music. After all, to what other type of funky music could we compare a martial art that has names for its styles like “Tiger,” “Monkey,” and (my favorite) “Drunken Fist”?!?! Just throw down on your bongos, your didgeridoo, or your yueqin and twist your spine all over the place.

 

 

 

Muay Thai I would liken to Speed Metal. Fast paced, hard-hitting…rags hanging off them in places. I could think of nothing more akin to Zakk Wylde thrashing guitar riffs than taking a shin to the temple Muay Thai style!!!

 

 

 

And at last we come to jazz music. With musical Black Belts like Miles Davis, Louis Armstrong and Thelonious Monk, jazz is the most complicated and free flowing of all music styles. If you talk to a musician, which I didn’t, he will tell you that jazz is a style of music in which spontaneity and improvisation play a major role. Similarly to BJJ, jazz is considered difficult to define (exactly when will I get that next stripe…?) and improvisation is consistently regarded as being one of its key elements. As in BJJ, the jazz practitioner must have a firm grip on his technique, be able to react to the other members of the band (or your opponent) and function within the realms of group creativity, interaction, and collaboration. Sounds a lot like our band of brothers training together to improve each other’s game.

 

 

 

So the next time that purple belt (who probably listens to Deathcore) has you mounted, remember to let your style flow, get creative, relax, feel the rhythm, then puff out your cheeks and hit that Dizzie Gillespie sweep.

 

Thanks for reading, OSSS!!!!

 

-Chris

 


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