L'actualité Gracie

GJJ Philosophy and Eye Gouges

December 23, 2009

The following letter was sent to Rener in response to the somewhat controversial
radio interview
he did a few weeks ago.

"Dear Rener,

Thanks for the Podcast, in particular the story about the blue belt
from another school that went crazy trying to get out of side mount. I
started jiu-jitsu under a purple belt around 2004, I then went to a
Gracie around 2006 and to another prominent teacher in 2007. I have
studied martial arts for 20 years in March, I hold a Godan under a
black belt karate hall of famer. The idea of fighting to not lose had
never been taught to me, until you guys. People who say that GJJ needs
more philosophy are crazy; the philosophy of patience and fighting to
avoid defeat versus fighting with a purely offensive mindset is
awesome. Even having studied jiu-jitsu for several years now, I just
never got that philosophy. In fact, I was rolling with a black belt in
BJJ last year and he passed my guard to side mount. There was some
pressure, of course, but I never felt in danger of being submitted. Now
this guy was at least 10 years younger than me and in much better
shape, so I just hung out and waited for an opportunity to escape.
After about four minutes we switched partners, I never got submitted so
I felt pretty good about it all.

After class I received a lot of criticism for not making a more
aggressive attempt to change my position. It was so bad that I spent a
year working on side mount escapes, and to be honest I felt like a
failure in many ways. The story you told really helped me, I feel much
better now, it's hard to describe in words.

You also mentioned eye gouges. In 1999, I got into an altercation with
a guy much larger than me. When I tried to walk away he hit me in the
back of the head. At the time I was a black belt in karate, but had not
done any BJJ. I started seeing stars and went down. As we were
wrestling on the floor I got really afraid I was going to be hurt, so I
shoved my thumb into his eye as hard as I could. I wish I had known GJJ
back then. Although I was vindicated in court (there were a lot of
witnesses) it still cost me a lot of time, a few days in jail, and I
ended up having to get therapy because of the guilt I felt from hurting
him so badly. I caused permanent physical damage to another person, and
that's hard to live with, even if it was self-defense. I didn't
practice any martial arts for about 4 years after that. In general, it
was a horrible experience, one that I know wouldn't have happened had I
known Gracie Combatives. The only positive thing that came of it was
that years later the memory of it made me want to learn jiu-jitsu so
that I had options other than an eye gouging when faced with a more
athletic opponent. I so often hear "just eye gouge", well it's not as
easy as people think, and it will haunt you. It's far better to take
the time to learn a different, more humane way of self-defense.

So anyway, thanks you guys, not only for Gracie Combatives, but for the
philosophy of GJJ, it has changed my life and the lives of my six kids
as well. In fact it has become a way of life for our whole family. Like
I said, I have practiced martial arts for almost 20 years, and I think
I am finally beginning to understand it, thanks to you guys. To me it
has always been about self-defense, now I think I am on the correct
path. I mean no disrespect to my other teachers, or to the art I worked
so hard at for so many years, but one must be honest to grow, and that
is why I had to change from Issinryu Karate to BJJ and then, finally,
to Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. Thanks for teaching me.

Your student,

Michael Lawson"