In defense of the martial arts

A sport is a sport is a sport

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In defense of the martial arts

Two advanced fighters go head to head in a traditional BJJ match.

Two advanced fighters go head to head in a traditional BJJ match.

Two advanced fighters go head to head in a traditional BJJ match.

Two advanced fighters go head to head in a traditional BJJ match.

Wyatt Harris, Staff Writer

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Around three months ago I began training in the art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and it has dramatically changed my preconceived notions on combat sports. I say art because Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a marital art that has been practiced for many years and is so skill involved that it takes the shape of an art form. I had been out of playing an organized sport, in my case basketball, for over a year and all exercise came primarily from lifting weights. While I was certainly getting a stronger, something was sorely missing from my life, and it up to be the spirit of competition and being on a team. I explored other team sports like soccer but found that I was too far behind the curve to be competitive at this age. I felt hopeless and admittedly was falling out of shape. This is when I discovered Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

I had always been a casual fan of the UFC and MMA but because of my epilepsy and concerns with head injuries, I had always rejected the possibility of participating in a combat sport. In my desperation I did a boat load of research and found that Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, while a violent combat sport, lacked any sort of striking and was relatively safe.

I found a local gym called Gracie Tampa West, began a one week free trial, and was instantly hooked. Despite getting absolutely clobbered and even leaving the gym with an incidental black eye, I knew that this was the sport that would stick.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, or BJJ, is a style of combat revolving around submissions that include anything from simple chokes, to complicated leg locks and arm bars. The sport is relatively modern and has increased in popularity seemingly exponentially in recent years.

Mere days after beginning my training, I immediately felt myself getting back into proper shape, and nothing is more competitive then a sport that pits you against another grown man fighting for what feels like your life. I thought I would be missing the comradery that came with being on a basketball team given BJJ is a solo sport; however, I truly believe the brutal nature of the sport creates a sort of family bond with the people in the gym that I cannot compare to any other sport team I have been a part of.

I have always felt that combat sports have gotten a bad rep and I will admit that I believed the stigma completely. My advice to anyone reading this is that combat sports are hard, but also incredibly rewarding, so if you are even remotely interested, I strongly recommend you give them a shot.

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