Is Jiu Jitsu A Sport? Everything you need to know

Jiu jitsu competition

The sport of Jiu Jitsu is growing at a fast rate with more athletes now than ever. Even though BJJ is growing, there are still naysayers that don’t consider Jiu Jitsu a sport.

That’s why we’re going to go in depth and show why Jiu Jitsu is a sport. Going through every facet of BJJ competition to show the naysayers why they’re wrong.

Is Just Jitsu a sport? Yes, Jiu Jitsu meets all of the pre-requisites for being considered a sport. Being an activity between two individuals or teams that go through physical exertion to determine a winner. It is also a form of entertainment, where fans pay to watch BJJ athletes compete.

What’s the definition of a sport? 

Before we get into the debate of Jiu Jitsu being a sport, we need to know the definition of a sport. According to the Oxford dictionary, the definition of a sport is as follows:

“An activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or a team competes against another team for entertainment.”

Reasons why Jiu Jitsu is a sport 

Now that you know the definition of a sport, we can now go through why Jiu Jitsu is a sport. Here are the biggest arguments for Jiu Jitsu being a sport.

Jiu Jitsu is a battle between two opposing forces 

BJJ perfectly meets the definition of a sport. A Jiu Jitsu match is a battle between two athletes competing to see who is the better grappler.

This is exactly the same as fighters in a boxing or MMA match do in their forms of competitions. Battling to see who is the better fighter.

Jiu Jitsu is a competition of skill

A Jiu Jitsu match is more than just a battle of two opposing wills, but a competition of skill. The two athletes in a BJJ match are highly skilled martial artists.

One competitor could be an expert at guard passing, while the other is a guard specialist. For ten minutes, they will have a tactical battle to see who can submit the other or win on points.

A Jiu Jitsu match involves physical exertion 

Since a Jiu Jitsu match is a form of fighting, this means that it involves physical exertion. Just like any other type of combat sport, where athletes are fighting against each other.

Those that have competed in BJJ know just how exhausting it is to compete. You’ve never felt more tired in your life than how you feel after you get done competing in a match.

It’s a form of entertainment

The last reason for Jiu Jitsu being a sport is that it is a form of entertainment. Numerous people stream the big matches to be entertained and see who will come out on top. Just like how fans of football or MMA tune in to every event.

Arguments against Jiu Jitsu being a sport 

There is a small faction of naysayers that feel Jiu Jitsu is not a sport. Here are some of their arguments against Jiu Jitsu being a sport.

Jiu Jitsu is a martial art(not a sport)

Some critics don’t see Jiu Jitsu as a sport, but more as a martial art. Having the opinion that BJJ was created as a self defense martial art and cannot or should not be viewed as a sport.

It’s boring

It’s hard to admit, but sometimes watching Jiu Jitsu matches can be really hard to watch. Especially when there’s a stalemate, where one athlete can’t pass their opponent’s guard and the opponent can’t defend them. For a casual viewer this can be as boring as watching paint dry.

Why those arguments against Jiu Jitsu not being a sport are wrong

People that feel BJJ isn’t a sport are entitled to their opinion even though they’re wrong. Here are why those arguments against Jiu Jitsu being a sport are wrong.

Jiu Jitsu can be both a martial art and sport

There are no guidelines that say BJJ has to be a martial art or a sport. It can easily be both simultaneously. Just like how Muay Thai is both a martial art and a sport.

Saying Jiu Jitsu is boring is an opinion (not fact)

Saying that Jiu Jitsu is boring is more of an opinion than an actual fact. Admittingly, there are boring matches from time to time, but there’s also boring MMA matches or baseball games. 

How Jiu Jitsu has grown as a sport

BJJ has really come into its own as a legitimate sport over the years. Here is how the sport of Jiu Jitsu has grown.

The BJJ audience is bigger than ever

Today, there are more fans of Jiu Jitsu than ever before that tune into every major match or competition. Also going to watch events live

This year’s ADCC championship sold out in record time with over 10k tickets purchased 

There’s more ways to watch 

What has helped the BJJ audience grow is wider access to watching BJJ competitions. There are now more websites that stream the biggest competitions and pro shows than ever before.

Thanks in part to streaming websites like flograppling that were created specifically to bring those matches to the masses. YouTube has been the other website most used to stream competitions.

These websites have given BJJ fans across the world to watch all of the major championships and events at home.

Athletes are making a living off of competing 

To further cement the growth of the sport of Jiu Jitsu, BJJ athletes are now paid more than ever. Just a decade ago it was unheard of to make a living in Jiu Jitsu competing. But now top Jiu Jitsu athletes are now making a comfortable living off of just competing.

How to make BJJ a more legitimate sport

Even though BJJ is growing as a sport, there are improvements needed to make it better. Here are some ways to make BJJ a more legitimate sport. 

Make BJJ competitions more fan friendly 

Big tournaments like the IBJJF put on are not the most fan friendly to casual viewers. Most arenas that hold these competitions are only half filled with die hard fans and teammates of the competitors.

You seldom see BJJ fans go to these competitions unless they know somebody competing. That is why the first step in making BJJ a more legitimate sport is making competitions more fan friendly.

Jiu Jitsu organizations need to make fans want to come watch a competition. Do more marketing towards BJJ fans rather than just getting competitors to pay to compete.

Penalize stalling

One problem that has plagued sport BJJ for years is the act of stalling. Some Jiu Jitsu athletes will strategically go up on points or advantages and just coast.

For spectators, that is incredibly boring to match and takes the enjoyment out of watching a match. That is why competitors that do this must be penalized anytime they stall in a match.

Jiu Jitsu matches need to be more fast paced with athletes constantly going for points and submissions. Doing this will make matches more entertaining and attract more fans.

Educate non BJJ practitioners

The biggest thing that needs to be done to make BJJ a more legitimate sport is to educate non BJJ practitioners. Jiu Jitsu is a verniche sport that is only viewed by those that practice the martial art.

There are no casual fans that watch Jiu Jitsu competitions and don’t train. If we educate non practitioners, then BJJ will be seen the same as MMA or boxing.

Let’s continue growing the sport of Jiu Jitsu!

The sport of Jiu Jitsu has come a long way, but it can be even better. We in the BJJ community can do our part to continue the growth of the sport we love.

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Let's Roll BJJ aims to be the leading source of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Grappling information and news on the web. Dorian, the owner and editor of Let's Roll BJJ is a purple belt in Jiu Jitsu and has been training and competing for over 6 years. Apart from being a BJJ geek, Dorian is a software developer by trade, a husband, and a father of two wonderful kids who he's recently began teaching Jiu Jitsu. When he's not training, coding, or writing, you can find him hiking, camping or occasionally binging on video games.


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