Back in 1990, when I started grappling, professional Jiu Jitsu would sound like an utopian dream. The official state BJJ tournament was boycotted by most clubs, the Brazilian Nationals did not exist, and the biggest comp we had was the Atlantico Sul, named after a condo in Barra da Tijuca.
BJJ was barely practiced in most parts of Brasil, with Rio de Janeiro and Amazon states being the only significant ones in terms of numbers and technical quality. Fighters supported themselves by teaching or other daytime jobs, and most sponsors would give us food, tournament fees and clothes.
As a surfer, I always dreamt of seeing BJJ being practiced everywhere, with a professional tour and decent prizes.
With the success of Royce in the UFC and the explosion of MMA , Jiu Jitsu experimented a growth that most of us would never think of, and competitions are happening all over the World, with the most significant growth in North America.
Unlike surf that is organised by former athletes and became global, bringing money and professional marketing to the sport, BJJ is controlled by a mob that preys on its competitors, offering no more than a t-shirt and a medal to athletes. The money itself only goes one way, from the wallet of the fighters to the pocket of the parasites that mix personal and public interest with a clean face.
After more than 15 years of constant abuse and exploit, it is a shame that athletes keep supporting this scam, conducted by the same people that control the Brazilian, American and International Federations since their inception, without elections and without being accountable to anyone.
This group has no interest in developing BJJ as a professional sport, as they would have to share their revenues with the people generating them. If we wait for them, professional BJJ will never happen.
Thankfully, the growth of BJJ opened up many doors, and it was in the United Arab Emirates that the seeds of professional BJJ are being sown. Carlos Santos, under the patronage of H. H. Sheikh Zayed Al Nahyan, started to teach the military forces of that country. With time, Carlos started teaching school kids and launched a program that now is in its third phase, reaching 20 thousand school kids from Abu Dhabi and employing 81 Brazilian BJJ coaches.
Not settling for less than excellence, Carlos envisioned a better future for our sport. He started small, promoting local and regional BJJ comps but always with increasing money prizes. The next step was to create a World Pro BJJ Cup, which happened earlier this year. Now the whole thing is expanding with full support of the government and many trials will be done all over the World, qualifying athletes that will receive all travel expenses to compete next April in Abu Dhabi. The II World BJJ Pro Cup will split over Us$ 130,000.00 (One Hundred, Thirty Thousand American Dollars) among the finalists and will mark the establishment of the FIJJA, a federation committed to promote BJJ all over the World in a professional way.
Trials will be run in North, Central and South America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Oceania, setting the standards for a future World Professional BJJ Tour.
This initiative will cement the future of the sport, bringing a new generation and keeping athletes that were leaving BJJ behind to venture into MMA due to financial pressures.
Our club became responsible for the African Trials, that will happen on 6th of December in Johannesburg, South Africa. Other trials will happen from November to March al over the World and as soon as we have all details available, we will post them here.
For more information about the trials in South Africa, please write to: firstname.lastname@example.org
For more info regarding trials elsewhere, please write to: email@example.com