Is BJJ An Olympic Sport?

Is BJJ an Olympic sport

BJJ is one of the fastest-growing sports in the world. So naturally you might wonder if and when it will become an Olympic sport. We all know that wrestling and judo are big sports in the Olympics, so why not BJJ?

BJJ is not an Olympic sport. Within the BJJ community, there is much debate on whether or not BJJ should be an Olympic sport. That said, it does not look like BJJ will be in the next Olympics.

There are some who are currently pushing for BJJ to be in the Olympics. But much needs to happen before we see BJJ as an Olympic sport anytime soon. In fact, many influential BJJ leaders are fighting to keep BJJ out of the Olympics.

There are arguments on both sides that are fair arguments. Though I have my own opinions on the matter I am going to try my best to present the arguments on both sides.

Why BJJ Is Not An Olympic Sport

Probably the best argument for BJJ being in the Olympics is that more people will be introduced to jiu-jitsu. After all, how many times do you have to explain to someone that jiu-jitsu is not the same as karate?

One major problem with this, however, is though it might new bring eyes to jiu-jitsu, BJJ will probably not bring a whole lot of new attention to the Olympics.

Though BJJ is growing like crazy it is still uncommon in many parts of the world. Where I live in the US there seem to be more BJJ schools than other types of martial arts.

There Are Not Enough Black Belts Across the Globe to Be Competitive

Also, since you would likely have to be a black belt to compete in the Olympics there would be a great disparity between countries. There are still many countries where BJJ is growing but still has not had enough time to develop a reasonable amount of black belts.

So if BJJ was in the Olympics it would be dominated by Brazil and the United States.

After all, you can only assume that only black belts would compete in the Olympics right? If that is the case, then there would be too many countries that would not even have people who could qualify.

In turn, Brazil would likely dominate Olympic BJJ. The only competition they might face would be from the United States. Besides Brazil and the United States, there really are not many countries where BJJ has been around long enough to develop a fair number of black belts.

It is growing in many parts of Europe and other parts of the world. But I think we still need some time for enough countries to catch up.

BJJ Is Not Exciting Enough For People Who Don’t Train

Don’t get upset for me saying this but BJJ is probably not as exciting to watch for people who do not practice the art. Of course, curling is in the Olympics so maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about. Jokes aside BJJ can be a pretty slow art. After all, we have all seen how the beer curlers get impatient when there is too much grappling during an MMA fight.

This is especially true since BJJ is practiced in the gi which can help people slow the pace of a match. The other grappling arts in the Olympics such as freestyle wrestling, Greco-Roman wrestling, and judo are much more explosive sports to watch.

Don’t get me wrong the sport of BJJ in the gi is a beautiful sport. But let’s be honest it is not going to be as exciting for someone who does not train BJJ. No-gi jiu-jitsu might be a bit more exciting for the Olympics but we will get to that later.

The Olympics Would Water Down BJJ

I think the biggest argument against BJJ in the Olympics is the fear that the art would get watered down. Heck, many people even today would argue that sport jiu-jitsu has watered down the martial art to some degree.

After all, many BJJ schools today are only focused on sport jiu-jitsu and have taken much focus away from the self-defense systems that were the foundation of Gracie jiu-jitsu. This is natural of course because if you want to be the best in the world at sport jiu-jitsu why would you focus a significant amount of time on self-defense?

With that in mind, if BJJ became an Olympic sport then the rules would become even stricter than say the IBJJF rules. Since the Olympics is the pinnacle of competitive sports, then people would naturally adapt their training to the new ruleset. In turn, we would likely see a worldwide watering down of BJJ.

Slowly but surely certain takedowns would likely get banned. Then certain submissions would get banned and so on. Once these moves get banned then there will be many schools that would no longer focus on teaching those techniques.

We Already Have The ADCC

If there was a new grappling form to make it to the Olympics I think the best option would be a more general submission grappling. This way, it is not limited to only BJJ players. Instead, it would be more similar to ADCC rules. Grapplers of all different backgrounds could compete in the sport.

That said, I honestly don’t think we even need to do that.  The ADCC and other organizations do a good enough job already. In addition, if the sport continues to grow through these organizations the athletes would more likely be able to make more money as well.

In Summary

At this time BJJ is not an Olympic sport. That said, it is probably best that it stays that way. Sure it might bring more attention to the sport but it’s likely not worth the potential drawbacks. Even if it made it into the Olympics it would still have to draw a lot of attention from the audience for it to stick around.

BJJ is likely not entertaining enough for people to be interested in it enough to last in the Olympics. This is especially true considering that so many countries would not have qualified candidates. It would likely be dominated by Brazil and the US for quite some time.

Joshua Paul

Joshua Paul is a BJJ purple belt who lives in Austin, Texas. Joshua loves all forms of grappling and when he is off the mats he is likely spending time with his wife and son.

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