Grab your Gi and get ready to throw down on the mat Waco! This weekend, from Dec. 2-3, the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation will host one of their international open championship tournaments at the Extraco Event Center.
What is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a self-defense martial art and combat sport that is practiced across the world. It involves grappling, holding and forcing opponents into submission through body mechanics and defense moves rather than striking. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is just one of several types of martial arts known throughout the world. The origin of this fighting art traces back to the Japanese martial art Jiu-Jitsu, which was first developed during feudal Japan as a form of fighting for samurai. The martial art was then brought to Brazil by Japanese diplomat Mitsyuo Maeda, who, with the help of businessman and politician Gastao Gracie and his children, created the modern Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu that is practiced today.
What is The IBJJF?
The International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation (IBJFF) is an organization that hosts several of the largest Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tournaments across the globe. The organization was founded by Carlos “Carlinhos” Gracie Jr., a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu master and member of the Gracie family, renowned across the world for their contributions to the start of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. The organization holds numerous championships across the world in cities such as London, Dublin, Sao Jose, Los Angeles, and now, Waco.
This two-day competition will showcase the best athletes from all over the globe who will represent various martial arts studios. Waco is home to over ten martial arts studios, and most provide training for both young children and adults. Like most combat sports, the athletes will be separated based on weight class and skill level. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu operates on a belt ranking system, and, typically, there are five belt levels that practitioners can earn: white, blue, purple, brown and black. Matt Cordon, Interim Associate Dean at Baylor Law School, is a black belt himself and will be one of many participating in this championship event. He studies and trains at Select Jiu-Jitsu Academy of Martial Arts, a local martial arts studio in Waco that is run by founder and coach, Lance Yager. Throughout his 12 years in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Cordon has seen the popularity of the sport rise, especially in Central Texas.
“In Waco, and everywhere, it’s growing in popularity,” Cordon said. “When I started, I didn’t even know what it was, and there was one gym that had offered it. And then it grew into two and it kept growing and all of the gyms kept growing. It’s not what I would call a mainstream sport, but it’s not the niche sport that it was when I started.”
While there’s no argument that Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a physical sport, there’s a mental aspect to it. Although he does train to win, Cordon notes that he also trains to help keep his body and mind in balance.
“Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is probably one of the most demanding martial arts in terms of cardiovascular endurance,” Cordon said. “In some ways, I find it similar to swimming. It involves a full-body workout, and there’s a very interesting mental aspect to it. You have to think through the moves, think through the techniques, and develop strategies. So that’s why we tend to call it human chess because you’re really thinking about the next move and the next move in the next move while you’re basically fighting.”
Alongside that, Cordon also feels that Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu can serve as an effective and accessible form of self-defense that anyone and everyone should try.
“There’s a self-defense aspect that’s very important,” Cordon said. “I’ve taken self-defense classes previously where I really don’t think those techniques would work. I think they look neat, they look like she should work. But they look better than they really are. In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, because we practice it full speed in a simulated environment, we know it works. I know that if I were attacked, I would at least have the skill set to defend myself. I think everybody needs that.”
Despite it being so physical, Cordon hopes that the sport, and his own studio, will see more friendly faces. He feels that this is something that anyone, regardless of personal limitations, can do.
“I would not worry about if you’re not in shape, and I would about something that would seem like a limitation, like age or again, lack of athleticism or being smaller in stature. Just do it. Just try it out,” Cordon said.
All information regarding scheduling, match times and bracket divisions will be released on Dec. 1 on the IBJJF website.