The name of The Jiu-Jitsu Vortex was originally inspired by the tendency for BJJ to swallow the practitioner’s life, but further investigation has unearthed deeper meanings. As it turns out, the phrase “jiu-jitsu vortex” can be used to describe the sparring style of almost any Brazilian jiu-jitsu addict.
The Jiu-Jitsu Vortex in a Social Sense
Definition 1. The phenomenon by which a BJJ practitioner’s life is overtaken by the drive to train Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu day and night.
Sample sentence: “I blew off another dinner last night because I was at the gym. This jiu-jitsu vortex is going to cost me all of my friends.”
I first used the phrase “jiu-jitsu vortex” a couple of years ago when – after realizing that BJJ was taking over my life – I referred to myself being “slowly but surely sucked into the Brazilian jiu-jitsu vortex.” This definition is explored in some detail on “What is The Jiu-Jitsu Vortex?”, one of the first pages added to this site.
The Jiu-Jitsu Vortex in a Meteorological Sense
Definition 2. A fast-moving, attacking style of jiu-jitsu reminiscent of a tornado; often highly technical. Fighters using this kind of BJJ typically use continual position changes to confuse and/or disorient their opponent to the point that they become exhausted and leave themselves open to a submission.
Sample sentence: “That guy scrambles like a ferret. Sparring with him is like getting caught in a jiu-jitsu vortex.”
Meterological vortexes (tornadoes) cause ridiculous amounts of destruction in a couple of minutes. Likewise, facing off against some BJJ fighters will make you feel like you’ve been thrown into a blender. Genki Sudo unleashed a jiu-jitsu vortex on his fellow competitors when he showed up at the Westside Submission Grappling Tournament in 2001. Check the whirlwind sequence that starts at 2:18 – what an awesome way to get to mount.
Guilherme and Rafael Mendes are fast-moving technical wizards and are continually pushing the evolution of Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Here’s a highlight reel that includes footage from from 2009 ADCC, 2010 Pan Jiu Jitsu Championship, and the 2008-2011 Mundials.
The Jiu-Jitsu Vortex in a Cosmological Sense
Definition 3. A steady, unrelenting Brazilian jiu-jitsu style typically characterized by an emphasis on control and strong, basic techniques. The strategy employed by these fighters involves slowing the action down and applying constant pressure in an attempt to frustrate, annoy, and crush the life out of their opponent until a submission opportunity shows itself.
Sample sentence: “He’s like a jiu-jitsu vortex, once he gets a hold of you it’s just a matter of time before you’ll be tapping out.”
Astronomic forces are as powerful as you’re going to get, but they do not work quickly. Astronomy / cosmology nerds such as myself will enjoy this animation – courtesy of NASA and the Arctic Region Supercomputing Center (ARSC) – that depicts an astronomic vortex in action during the formation of a spiral galaxy. Note in the bottom right corner that the process takes place over a period of 14.6 Gigayears (14,600,000,000 years). That’s a long-ass time.
Watching Roger Gracie’s matches always reminds me of a related passage from A Brief History of Time in which Stephen Hawking describes the experience of an astronaut being sucked into the ultimate vortex – a black hole: “[the astronaut] would not, in fact, feel anything special as he reached the critical radius, and could pass the point of no return without noticing it. However, within just a few hours, as the region continued to collapse, the difference in the gravitational forces on his head and his feet would become so strong that it would tear him apart.”
I’d pass this point of no return simply by walking onto the mat opposite Roger. For someone like Braulio Estima, Andre Galvao, or Jacare, the point of no return might be the moment that their arm crosses Roger’s centreline and he hits an armdrag, or when he sweeps and ends up in the mount.
This highlight reel shows Roger Gracie in action vs. Ricardo Franco, Marcelo Garcia, Terere, Roberto Tozl, Roberto Agnese, Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza.
So whether it moves at a deadly, frenetic, and exhausting pace or plods forwards excruciatingly slowly, the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Vortex not only describes you, but it will swallow you alive. What kind of jiu-jitsu vortex are you?