Sharks are in the headlines these days…
We have the Great White Mary Lee roaming the Jersey Shore, and just this past weekend the heart-stopping images of 3x Surfing World Champion, Mick Fanning, fighting off a shark during the final of the South African Leg of the World Surfing League.
All this talk of sharks made me think about this old Brazilian fisherman tale, not quite as impressive as Hemingway’s moving ‘The Old Man and the Sea’ but it embodies what Jiu Jitsu is about: the triumph of the human intellect over brute force and raw power.
It is said that the fisherman in Fernando de Noronha, a paradisiacal island about 200 miles of the North East Coast of Brazil, have figured out a ingenious yet simple way to win the battle over a killing machine that has been perfected by 400 million years of evolution: Sharks!!
Back in the days of old, the ‘Noronha’ fisherman would load their small boats with huge iron cauldrons where they would boil giant pumpkins. They would then, throw the scolding pumpkins in the ocean, where the sharks, agitated by bait previously thrown in the water, would swallow the pumpkins whole and dive. The insufferable heat would literally explode the insides of the sharks floating them back to the surface where the fisherman would collect the enormous fish back to the boats. This primitive and efficient fishing technique was passed down, through generations, from father to son.
I heard this story as a kid from my uncle who visited this beautiful and remote place, but it is not until now, that I can truly appreciate the efficiency, simplicity and precision of this seemingly rugged approach. But maybe that is me seeing the world through the eyes of someone who really loves Jiu Jitsu.
I appreciate Jiu Jitsu where technique conquers all, knowing when, where and how your opponent will attack, setting up your counter and wait for the right timing to turn the table and apply the lethal finish.
I also, appreciate its simple and effective strategy – closing the distance, taking an opponent to the ground, maneuvering to a dominant position while keeping the opponent down and finishing the opponent. Where Jiu Jitsu goes further than the ‘scolding pumpkin’ is in its humane approach where takedowns, pinning holds and submission holds are favored over punches and kicks.
Further, I really appreciate the legacy of the Gracie Family who taught the world Jiu Jitsu and that the ‘Gracie Way’ to approach self-defense also involves a healthy lifestyle, regular exercise and curbing vices.
In a world, where the new iPhone or App are just around the corner, skills become obsolete almost as the seasons change. We need to add knowledge and wisdom to our skills, be on the mats or off. Build a foundation with knowledge and wisdom that have passed the test of time and only then let innovation carry us into the future…