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European Gracie Representative Initiating Change to Tournament Play


Patrick Bittan BJJ4Change

The initiative BJJ4Change comprises of a group of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu experts working hard to cultivate a dedicated family of enthusiastic adults and children. With renowned Rickson Gracie self-defense expert, Patrick Bittan, leading the way, the group recently hosted a conference of masterminds in Paris. Some of the most popular attendees were BJJ4Change’s European Board of Authority members, including Robert Drysdale, Braulio Estima, Flavio Behring, Marcelo Goncalves, Sebastien Cheunier, Eddy Miath, Vincent Bismuth, Cyril Olezko, Samuel Bismuth, and Patrick Chaput.

Xavier Boucaut and Yacine M’dharari from Belgium also attended the conference to shoot some action packed footage for a documentary regarding the story of BJJ, and how BJJ4Change plans to take it to the next level in the years to come. The efforts and plans of this group, soon to be a documentary on Netflix, can be followed on BJJ4Change.com.

The following is an excerpt from the official press release of the conference:

Peace, terrorism, and self-defense were a major part of the discussions in Paris. Therefore, as expected, Patrick’s top priority in the list of items to discuss was the current type of tournament play, which has been subjected to criticism by some of the most renowned “self-defense” activists, including Rickson Gracie.

Gracie, himself, has famously gone on record several times to criticize practitioners in IBJJF events, saying: “They are just playing strategically to take the medal, and that somehow gives them the title of championship, but I am curious to know what this same champion would do if something really happens with him, because their reflexes are completely off in terms of keeping a solid foundation of defense.”

However, even today, it is tough to get participants to look at other avenues to compete. For example, experienced Brazilian Jiu-jitsu tournament regulars, like Chris Maciejewski of the Carlson Gracie Team, believe that IBJJF events still provide a more prestigious platform and look better on a fighter’s resume, but not everyone is convinced. Kron Gracie, a popular competitor, has opted not to compete in the “official tournaments” anymore because he can’t stand the rules. According to him: “The guys don’t want to fight me, they want to stall, they want to hold and I have to spend my time trying to free myself instead of fighting. So I would like to fight submissions only, but I don’t like to fight sport Jiu-jitsu competitions.”

The majority of attendants in Paris agreed that most traditional Jiu-jitsu tournaments have not been a practical option for fighters who might be under the false impression that the sport-focused art they are learning might not be as effective as one might think.

Simply put, the primary goal of the group is to bring back the concept of self-defense to train for tournaments and then effectively integrate the two. BJJ4Change is trying to put all the pieces together, one piece at a time, all for the greater good of the much revered art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Patrick Bittan, the French representative of the Rickson Gracie International Federation from 1995 to 2000, stated: “The goals outlined for BJJ4Change are simple. We need to give these events a different flavor, get bigger sponsors, and become unified as a larger entity. This is how we can get to the Olympics and make a bigger push if we are united and set up like a business when the opportunity arises. The problem is that the BJJ community needs to figure out a uniform style of play that we can all agree on.”

The self-defense expert further said, “The problem is to restore effectiveness in the martial art through the tournament settings, because these last 20 years (dominated by IBJJF tournaments) that have promoted “anti Jiu-jitsu moves” (stalling, 50/50 positions, etc.) have forced the athletes to conform to a different style of Jiu-jitsu for tournament play, and that certainly does not translate to real life self defense. “

According to Bittan, the reason behind creating a global group of masterminds is that it is extremely important to figure out the rules so that no such problems arise in the future. He also stresses on the fact that it is important to be united as a community.

Needless to say, it will be a busy time for Bittan all the way till June. BJJ4Change has announced its agenda for 2018, which will kick off with a Jiu-jitsu tournament, followed by a seminar and mastermind conference in June in Hawaii. At the conference, Bittan will be consulting with Luis Heredia, a Rickson Gracie Black Belt, to showcase an action-packed tournament that will be filmed and documented by BJJ4Change. Until then, the group is expected to host a number of micro tournaments throughout the Midwest as pre-qualifiers for larger “invite only” submission events that will also be featured in the upcoming documentary.

For Patrick Bittan, at the end of the day, “We are all Jiu-Jitsu.”

About Chris Martin

Chris Martin is Brazilian Jiu­Jitsu Brown Belt with over a decade of experience in the insurance and financial services industries. He has become a Black Belt in serving businesses throughout the Midwest who are focused on creating a culture of vitality and good health within their organizations. Most recently, Chris partnered with one of his corporate clients, Nova Gyms, to assist with the development of their fitness franchise. He has brought in martial artists and coaches who want to grow their business by offering them the business services, infrastructure, financing, and consulting needed to help them make their dreams a reality.

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