The Jiu Jitsu Community and the Heavyweight Paradox

12:35 AM Moo 1 Comments

                An actual depiction of how dramatic y'all are about absolute

I haven’t written in a while, but y’all were acting a fool so I had to come out of retirement.

The Jiu Jitsu community is not unique in our hypocrisy, but we are the only group of people to say “Jiu Jitsu is for everyone” while simultaneously bemoaning the existence of fat or even big people in our sport. We want to appear inclusive but have no trouble making it clear that people who aren’t conventionally fit aren’t welcome. Extra weight is associated with being slovenly, undedicated, lazy, etc. The pseudoscience that runs rampant in our community certainly doesn’t help. There are big people who are healthy, just as there as big people who are unhealthy. Why focus your energy on people doing Jiu Jitsu to better themselves? In our community, there is a clear line drawn. You are fit or you are unworthy. We have no issue taking the money of those who make New Year's resolutions to get in shape, while simultaneously saying “you don’t look like me, you must not be trying.” 

We don’t take into account hormones, underlying conditions, genetics, or any of the other factors that scientists agree 100% impact our chemistry and size. If Jiu Jitsu could change it all, we’d all be thin. Don’t even get me started on the bullshit “fat black belt tropes.” I’ve seen the bigger competitors track food, train more often, work out more often than some of the smaller competitors, but that doesn’t matter. Perception is what matters most in our community. Even super-heavy athletes at the highest level encounter regular comments about their lack of technique, use of power, etc.. I don’t see these same comments apply to competitors who abuse performance-enhancing drugs. The clear message-cheating is okay, as long as you look the part. 

We pretend as if we care about dedication and integrity, but what we truly value is the aesthetic of it all. Do you look cute and thin on IG? Body positivity is a double-edged sword in our community. Do you work hard? Proud of who you are? Post bikini pics? If you aren’t a size 5 you are accused of promoting unhealthy lifestyles. Damn, we can’t just exist?  I don’t know about you, but I’ve yet to see anyone hate themselves into self-improvement. This same culture is the reason, 2 weeks postpartum I felt like I had to be right back on the mats, attempting to lose weight as opposed to letting myself heal. I know better now and any desire to lose weight is purely for me.

Kendall Reusing is one of my favorite accounts to follow as she posts things that are directly in opposition to many popular posts we’ve all seen . For example the “fat is never healthy” in response to Nike making plus-size clothing. She puts emphasis on what her body can do, not just how it looks. Jiu-Jitsu allows our bodies, of all sizes, to do amazing things. That is an area where we should all be in agreement. Just recently an excellent competitor posted on Who’s Number One about her excitement to compete and was met with the response “why? you’re just going to lay on people the whole time.” Now realistically, the person commenting is probably just a troll, most likely a white belt who has never competed in their life. That being said- if the weight class exists and someone is there to fill it, then they deserve a seat at the table or better yet a place in the arena or on stage.  I want to see people of all sizes compete. I want to see Jiu Jitsu competition reflect the greater world around me.                                 

Tips for how to deal with the existence of larger people in the sport:

 1. If we are truly a sport for everyone- check your bias! Stop with the “if I did it you can do it too” mentality.

2.Check your perception of diet culture. Don’t assume everyone wants to be small. You don’t have to love someone’s lifestyle, but guess what? That’s why you have your own. 

3.Know that you don’t have to have an opinion on how anyone else looks. Did they ask for advice? If so, for sure. Do your thing. No? Shut up. 

4.Have a problem with big people in our sport? Look the other way, just like you do when your favorite athlete is juicing and winning world championships or when your teammate is signing up for empty divisions just to collect a participation medal and team points while skipping out on the absolute. 

5.Check yourself before you dare say you just lost in the absolute because the other person was bigger, cause let me tell you, baby, I was there, saw them pull guard and you got wrecked due to your lack of technique. 

6.Perhaps train more? I’ve been told that if you’re busy training, you don’t have time to worry about anyone else’s waistline. 

7.And finally remember, the best thing about business is minding your own!