This story is one small part of a big effort by MixedMartialArts.com to understand what works in martial arts. The primary focus is on what happens on the street, rather than in the arena. And sometimes we have fun with watching animals at play. If you enjoyed it, check out the library on:
•Martial Arts on The Street
•Style vs. Style
Although Brazilian jiu-jitsu has skyrocketed in popularity within the Homo sapien community since 1993, it's less well understood that our primate counterparts roll as well.
A BJJ student visiting Disney’s Animal Kingdom in 2016 captured on video two Gorilla siblings wrestling each other. This on its own is nothing special; offspring from a variety of mammals wrestle/play fight instinctively as a way to prepare themselves for when they are no longer under the watchful, protective eyes of their parents. Anyone with brothers can confirm this. However - amazingly - the movements of the baby gorillas remind of moves a human student would learn, practice, and relearn as s/he begins their BJJ journey.
In the beginning, one baby gorilla, let's call him Renzo, was relaxing against a water jug, enjoying the attention from the crowd of tourists. Renzo’s brother, let's call him Ralph, strolled up behind Renzo, and pulled him backwards onto the ground. Renzo didn’t like this very much, stood up, and gave Ralph a little forearm shiver, before he turned and tried to skedaddle to safety.
He didn’t get far before Ralph caught up and tackled him from behind, and securing top position. Renzo then used his open guard, and the two trade positions; Renzo attempts another escape before being caught for a second time.
After defending his back and getting to his feet, Renzo squared up with Ralph, and shot for a takedown of his own. Ralph flower sweeps him from his back, but in the subsequent scramble finds himself shrimping to keep Renzo off. Once again on their feet, in a clinch, Ralph shrugs Renzo onto the ground and escapes behind some bushes, with Renzo in chase.
Spot the jiu-jitsu techniques!
0:08 Single leg takedown
0:53 Funk roll
0:55 Flower sweep
Add your own!
Now let's look at the real Renzo rolling, in this case with his brother Ryan.
The video serves as proof that jiu-jitsu is real. It is not some human contrivance, with the efficacy of the discipline's particulars endlessly argued about. It is how things with arms and legs ideally interact in physically competitive circumstances, given some specific but realistic parameters.
Baby gorillas can't play tennis with each, they can't play ping pong, or basketball or bowling or ice hockey or White Eyebrow Kung Fu. But they do jiu-jitsu, as you can see.
Rest in Peace, Ryan Gracie, born August 14, 1974, died December 15, 2007.
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