A few years back, I came across this video where Stsiapan Papou of Belarus carries Amil Gasimov of Azerbaijan after winning gold in the Sambo men -74kg fight at the 2015 European Games in Baku on June 22, 2015. It was a beautiful display of sportsmanship, as Papou had just finished Amil with a tight foot lock and then helped him off the competition area. I posted it on social media and, for the most part, people understood and appreciated it. However, a dear friend who is nowhere near the fight world protested:
"Why do you like this stuff? He hurt him! But he was really nice about it after. I know it's a sport but one that hurts the other."
The objection was sincere and I even got a "sad face" emoji. That's when you know it's serious, right?
The assumption was clear: Jiu Jitsu hurts others. How in the world would I clarify that? What if, just what if there are thousands of parents, housewives, Salesmen, couch potatoes, and many others out there who have the same objection or concern and, because of that, are missing out on the awesome benefits of Jiu Jitsu? At that time, I knew I had my work cut out for me so I set out to debunk the myth:
Let's address the "hurt him" part first. The foot lock was placed and there was no getting out of it. Papou knew it. The correct thing to do in these situations is to tap out. He made a conscious choice to not tap out possibly because of pride, or some irrational hope to get out of the lock. It was 100% his choice to get hurt. Had he tapped when he was supposed to, he would have been just fine.
Why do I like it? For one, it is the truest, purest form of competition. Putting balls through nets, jumping high, running fast can be very exciting, and I watch it, but none of them have a true value, only the artificial value we assign to it. When you are trying to literally defend your physical integrity, the value and meaning are intrinsic, not artificial. This brings me to the next point: Self defense!
Frequently practicing physical combat, especially grappling, at full throttle, will enable practitioners to defend themselves and their loved ones very competently, God forbid, they ever need to one day. That's why I like it.
I know this doesn't nearly end the discussion, but as jiu-jitsu ambassadors, we will undoubtedly run into this type of objection, and, depending on our answer, someone may in fact come to experience the wonderful benefits of the Art.