One of the best aspects of jiu-jitsu is the crossroads of cultures you’ll find any given day on the mats. Indeed, memes are often thrown around social media joking about how jiu-jitsu is one of the few activities that both police officers and cannabis enthusiasts can mutually enjoy. But, without one party being suspicious of the other, a true intersection of just about any subculture you can think of, as well as some you probably can’t, can exist in harmony. However, while jiu-jitsu might unite the various subcultures of society, there’s one thing that divides them, and that’s their choice of music.
As someone formally involved with the underground music scenes, opinions about favorite bands can be contentious. People are passionate about music and have been since before the common era.
Plato, the millennia-dead Greek philosopher, said, “music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.” And given that rolling in a gym without music playing in the background is, well, awkward, it’s safe to say that the truth of this quote still holds up in the present day.
They say your jiu-jitsu is an extension of your personality, and if this is the case, so is your taste in music. How do those two things converge, though? What does your favorite band or musical genre say about your jiu-jitsu? Let’s take a look right now and see if we can figure that out.
You walk into a jiu-jitsu gym, and you’re almost sure to find at least one bald generation x-er with too many tattoos. It’s safe to assume that this person has been to a few punk shows in their time. They’ll probably talk about Harley Flanagan a lot– former bassist of the Cro-Mags and a Renzo Gracie black belt– and mention how they wished jiu-jitsu was accessible to Americans back in the eighties.
Like their favorite type of music, their jiu-jitsu is likely pretty basic. The simplicity doesn’t make it bad, though. These grapplers probably have a few jiu-jitsu t-shirts that look like the Ramones logo. They’ll almost certainly look to either take their opponent down, pass their guard and submit them with a head and arm triangle– something that might have helped them out during all the wild shows at CBGB back in the day.
Reggae is a musical genre that’s great for playing during rolling. It keeps everyone from getting too aggro and has people breathing and flowing better. Often associated with this musical genre is, well, marijuana. And it’s safe to say that fans of one also are proponents of the other.
Your local jiu-jitsu-practicing reggae fan probably is the one that never seems to exert themselves too much but still manages to give just about everyone in the gym some degree of trouble.
They might roll with their eyes closed, and they might just embody the old martial arts philosophy of “Be water, my friend.” Favorite position? Effortless back control for days.
Whatever Type of Music Eddie Bravo Makes
Let’s face it: If you’re a fan of Eddie Bravo’s music, you’re definitely on 10th Planet, have never worn a gi, and do rubber guard all the time.
This group is a difficult one, as there are so many different subgenres of metal. “Iron Maiden” and “Between the Buried and Me” are both considered metal, but they don’t sound anything alike. For the sake of brevity, let’s stick to the more modern progressive metal, though.
These late twenty to early thirty-something jiu-jitsu practitioners could probably talk as much about John Petrucci as they could Keenan Cornelius, and they probably started jiu-jitsu because they heard Matt Heafy of Trivium talk about it.
More likely still is the fact that these guys are the technical know-it-alls of your gym. This assumption doesn’t mean that they’re the most knowledgeable or most gifted either. But they could probably talk about the latest lapel guards that are being used– including ones that were never before spoken of but just invented by a random brown belt on YouTube.
Their life goal in jiu-jitsu? Roll with Maynard James Keenan. They probably roll at the pace that their favorite guitar shredder plays, fast and staccatoed. And they probably stopped practicing the basics after they got their blue belt. Favorite position? Anything inverted.
What’s butt rock, you ask? Anything you heard on the radio back in the early aughts: Breaking Benjamin, Saliva, NickelBack, Hoobastank, Five Finger Death Punch. You get it.
These are the tough guys– the ones who watched Brock Lesnar beat up Frank Mir at UFC 100 twelve years ago and want to tell you all about it. They probably are also the ones that constantly ask if a particular technique would work in a “real fight” and always walk around in either Tapout or Venum gear.
Even though they’ve never taken a punch to the face ever, they’ll tell their untrained friends that they do MMA and will always go to the local Buffalo Wild Wings to catch the latest fight card. They’re not that technical, but they’ve been around a while.
They also have a certain charm about them, so their gym’s Professor has given them at least a purple belt by now. They probably make fun of playing guard or bottom in general– saying that they prefer the top game, even though they can’t wrestle or do judo. You know what this means: Lots of knee wrestling. Favorite position? Side control, bro.
There are tons of music genres at this point, so I’ll undoubtedly be back to do part two of this article. But feel free to step back and laugh for a while with these until I write more down.
Jeff Nelson is a brown belt under Danilo Cherman of Team Nova Uniao. He started training jiu-jitsu in 2014, and he always complains about Star Wars on his personal Instagram account.