Jiu Jitsu: Yoga For the Kali Yuga

A quick note: Devotion Jiu Jitsu is the name not just of our physical gym, but our brand of Jiu Jitsu gear and apparel- anyone is welcome to wear it, and you don’t need to train at our gym to do so.

It is our goal to put out stuff for grapplers outside the realm of yet another “coffee and Jiu Jitsu” type brand, and every dollar goes toward keeping our private grappling club open.

All traveling grapplers with a good attitude are welcome to drop in on us and train- especially those who support at the online store HERE. Thanks. 

YOGA FOR THE KALI YUGA

Years ago, if someone said the word “yoga,” it conjured a basic image in my mind of a room full of people (mostly women), going through a series of contortions and stretches in extremely tight pants.

Probably before going to drop off their kids who have names like Sage, Jaxson, Paiden (or any other -aiden with a different consonant at the front) at soccer.

In some ways, it still does, as the contemporary Western practice of “storefront” yoga is largely based around the combination of breathing exercises and physical postures- and who doesn’t like yoga pants?

And there’s of course nothing wrong with this approach- those things are good for you, and it’s not my intention here to say what is “right” or “wrong.”

But yoga, despite my early prejudices toward it, is by definition (or perhaps, lack thereof) too large an idea to be encapsulated into any singular current.

For example, there are 884 occurences of the word “yoga” in the Sanskrit epic Mahabharata, with completely varying uses.

It seems that the only common denominator the word has across all these uses is a reference to the idea of a disciplined activity practiced often.

The root of the word comes from the Sanskrit yuj, which translates as “yoke,” the piece of hardware used to keep oxen or warhorses linked together in order to use their raw power effectively as a team.

From this, and many of the other sources throughout classic literature that refer to it, we can begin to extrapolate a picture of yoga as a discipline that one undertakes in order to understand, and bring about the process of connectivity, consonance, and congruence in their lives.

The many different forms and philosophies of yoga center around the development of worldview, philosophy, of paying attention- to the breath, to the body, to the thoughts, or the freeing of the mind from those thoughts.

Each school or tradition of yoga (some of them quite modern) takes a different approach.

The Brahmin caste (the priest class in Hinduism) considered the performance of ritual and recitation of mantra to be their yoga.

Later, in the Upanishads, there is a sort of rejection of the traditional values or systems of dogmatic control.

The idea of yoga shifts again to reflect this new philosophy of freedom and experiential practice that stresses the idea of reaching enlightenment or truth through personal efforts.

Throughout all these shifts, if we look at some of themes which remained consistent across the various disciplines, we can see a pattern emerge that may look familiar to those of us in the grappling arts, and even weight lifting, or other kinds of physical training:

Breath control.

Posture/positional control.

Bodily awareness.

Meditation.

Flexibility.

The linking or “yoking” of things together, of technique to technique

The act of paying attention- to the interaction between things, of cause and effect, and so on.

All of these things that are integral to Jiu Jitsu, and of course, martial arts in general, make it clear that the term “yoga” certainly applies to these endeavors.

For many long-time Jiu Jitsu practitioners, it is common to hear them refer to “their” Jiu Jitsu, and their relationship with it not as a simple martial art, but as a way of looking at the world, a way of understanding things, and a total lifestyle.

This is a common perception within yoga as well, and there is a quote in a treatise on the subject that states “for every man, a different yoga.

Just like developing a “game” in Jiu Jitsu, your consistent dedication to the art will begin to create changes in your mindset, life, philosophy and so on that are unique to you and your practice or approach.

It is this concept that perhaps separates the idea of a normal kind of physical exercise from being a “yoga” or not- what is the level of focus, of dedication, concentration, consistency?

What is the level of DEVOTION?

Because it is this “intentional” and “active” practice of something that begins to lend it a depth that goes far beyond “lifting weights” or “grappling” or “stretching.”

Like the root word, it is a yoke that connects the Physical, the Mental, and the Spiritual facets of the completely integrated human together and brings them into unison, into harmonious existence, and creates something more than the sum of its parts.

There are, without a doubt, many benefits to all the other myriad types of yoga that are more often thought of when the word is spoken, but Jiu Jitsu/grappling is certainly no less a “yoga” than these others.

It will teach you to control the body and breath.
It will focus the mind.
It can be brutal or meditative.
It requires renouncing and sacrificing in order to gain real power and advancement from it.

And unlike the yoga those soccer moms may be practicing-

It will teach you to fight.