On my second run through Metamoris Pro I thought it’d be funny to take a mezcal shot every time Rener said “interesting”. I woke up at the hospital. Next try, I hit the mute button and played Miles Davis’s Bitches Brew album. This is a brilliant piece of music. Proto-fusion jazz isn’t what most would associate with BJJ, but the way the layers of sound overlap and interact is a perfect complement to the improvisational ebb and flow of an exciting Brazilian jiu-jitsu match.
Nursing an injury means extra time to catch up on work; and to spend on frivolous pursuits like scanning my music library for songs that could be interpreted as relevant to jiu-jitsu. Below we have 31 BJJ-friendly songs grouped by theme. Some have an explanation, while others don’t require one… and some of those have one anyway. Enjoy.
General Jiu-Jitsu Songs
- The Jesus Lizard “The Art of Self Defense” – “A diminutive figure in a filthy loin cloth.” Isn’t that how it always starts?
- Ol’ Dirty Bastard “Rollin’ Wit You” – “Jesus, I’m rollin’ with you”
- Charles Mingus “Haitian Fight Song “
- Deltron 3030 “Battlesong” – “Squeezed out his brain like juice. Like a python.” An apt description of the neck crank that MMA submission master Demian Maia used on Rick Story.
- Link Wray “Rumble“
- Brutal Truth “Let’s Go To War”
Songs for Submission Specialists
- Sex Pistols “Submission” – “Submission, going down, down, dragging you down.” Evoking Demain Maia again, this time his takedown TKO vs. Dong Hyun Kim.
- Jeru the Damaja and Afu Ra “Physical Stamina” – “Chokes and armlocks, backs is gettin’ broken… I slip to the floor for the grapple, I crack your collarbone as I crush your adam’s apple”
- Morbid Angel “Suffocation” – “Suffocating evil smoke arise, cleansing the masses in iniquity. Cauldrons blaze in sanctifying ritual, vile crematory burns my eyes.” Just your average day at the gym.
- Ted Nugent “Stranglehold” – The Nuge is a racist redneck, but this song is pretty bad ass.
- The Stranglers “Get a Grip”
- Zeke “Twisted” – Heelhooks, toeholds, kimuras, neck cranks, bow-and-arrow chokes, and… well… twisters.
- Billie Holiday “Cheek to Cheek” – If you knew that I think of this song every time I’m working a head-and-arm choke, would you still roll with me?
- The Novas “The Crusher” – “Do the hammer lock, you turkey necks! And then you squeeze your partner’s head just below the face.” Obviously this goes with the calf crush / calf slicer / calf compression. Bonus points for the ’50s wrestler photos.
Defend Your Shit!
- Wu-Tang Clan “Protect Ya Neck” – The cardinal rule of Brazilian jiu-jitsu as explained by Inspektah Deck, Raekwon The Chef, Method Man, U-God, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Ghostface Killah, RZA, and The Genius.
- Patsy Cline “Crazy Arms” – Patsy knows how to escape an armlock.
- Iggy and The Stooges “Rubber Legs” …and Iggy’s impossible to leglock.
- Unsane “Get off my Back”
- The Clash “Clampdown” – In temperare veritas. The official Jiu-Jitsu Vortex strategy is “Frustrate and Annoy” – prevent your opponent from playing their game in hopes that they will get angry and make mistakes.
- Metallica “Creeping Death” – Another excellent strategy, especially for those inclined towards logos involving spiders, evil fungus, anacondas, and skulls.
- Motorhead “Fast and Loose” – I’m too slow for this, but some fighters are brilliant at it. Note one of the great moments in bass guitar history at 2:00.
- Gravediggaz “Deathtrap” – “You can’t come back, no matter what you do, when you fall in a death trap.” Somewhat like passing the event horizon of a black hole, or stepping onto the mat opposite Marcus “Buchecha” Alemeida.
- Fishbone “Pressure” – I saw Fishbone many times in the ’90s and their energy was unrivaled. If Angelo Moore did jiu-jitsu he would run you into the ground.
- Frank Zappa “Fifty-Fifty” – Watching 50-50 guard isn’t everyone’s idea of an enjoyable time, but those who like it, like it a lot. Same with listening to Zappa. Dig Jean Luc Ponty on the viomolin.
- Bob Marley “Get Up, Stand Up” – “You can fool some people sometimes, but you can’t fool all the people all the time”
- Faith No More “Be Aggressive”
- Black Moon “Powaful Impak!” – Especially suitable for seoinage, osotogari, koshiguruma, and any member of the makikomi family.
- Dirty Dozen Brass Band “My Feet Can’t Fail Me Now” – Judo footsweeps are my favourite takedowns and The Dirty Dozen Brass Band are one of the best live bands you’ll ever see. Kirk Joseph plays funk bass lines on a damn sousaphone. Lungs of steel!
- Guitar Wolf “Let’s Get Hurt” – Translation: “Let’s work some judo”
- Obituary “On the Floor” – That’s where we’re going, because that’s where the magic happens.
And of course, the requisite wind-down song courtesy of The Cox Family – “I Am Weary (Let Me Rest)”
If you made it to the end, I doff my hat to you. Hopefully you’re now a fan of some music that you’d never heard before. More likely, you’ve made a mental note to never invite me on a roadtrip or to your house. If you’ve been inspired to experiment with the music at your Brazilian jiu-jitsu club, all the better. And if you liked all of these songs, you might as well consider us friends.
Addendum: Curious about how these songs fared with Jiu-Jitsu Vortex readers? Annoyed by the lack of Brazilian music? Check out BJJ Music Follow-Up + Essential Brazilian Metal