Is Jiu Jitsu An Olympic Sport? (And should it be?)

Is there a greater sporting event than the modern Olympics?

Wherever it is being held, whatever the climate surrounding it, it is impossible to deny the sheer volume of incredible athleticism that is on display every year, from virtually every corner of the globe.

Is Jiu Jitsu An Olympic Sport?

And with thousands of athletes, comes a wide variety of sports that are on display, often at their finest and highest level.

This often leads to a lot of discussion as to what sports are included or excluded from the Olympics.

With only a certain amount of time and only a select number of the hundreds of sports that are practiced around the world, there are inevitably some sports that are going to get excluded.

The same is true for the martial arts in the Olympics.

Whilst certain martial arts, such as boxing, fencing, and wrestling, have all featured prominently in many modern Olympic Games, many of the world’s other martial arts simply haven’t been given the same chance to shine at this international change.

This is certainly starting to change, as classic martial arts such as judo, Karate, and Taekwondo, made their debuts at the Japan 2020 Olympic Games.

But it has also led to rampant speculation as to what martial art could be added next.

This wild theory-crafting has even resulted in people being confused as to what martial arts are computed over at the Olympic Games.

In this article, we are going to briefly discuss one of the most popular martial arts that is practiced across the world, the fighting style of Jiu-Jitsu, and whether it is an official Olympic sport.

We are also going to explain how the Olympic committee decides which sports are included in a given year’s event, to help explain why some martial arts can compete, whereas others can’t or do not.

Brief History Of Jiu-Jitsu

Before we go any further, we should probably give a brief explanation as to what Jiu-Jitsu is, to explain why many people feel that it should be an official Olympic sport.

Modern Jiu-Jitsu is one of the oldest modern families of martial arts styles in the world, with practices being recorded as far back as the 17th century, although records are going back as far as the 8th century of some version of this form being practiced.

The style was used as a supplementary skill that a warrior or soldier could use both with and without their sword in a fight.

Many of the moves that Jiu-Jitsu practices involve throwing grapples, and other paralyzing strikes, often by using an opponent or target’s weight, force, and momentum to disorientate or incapacitate them.

One of the things that Jiu-Jitsu is most known for is its place in history.

Being one of the first formal martial arts that were widely recognized both in Japan and internationally, Jiu-Jitsu would form the basis of many other sports martial arts, such as Judo, Aikido, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and a whole range of others.

It was also one of the first Japanese martial arts that were practiced and taught across the world, from Russia to the United Kingdom, to the United States and Brazil.

With such a legacy behind it, it is quite easy to see why so many people would be interested to see the sport included in the modern Olympics in some way.

Is Jiu-Jitsu An Olympic Sport?

Is Jiu-Jitsu An Olympic Sport?

So, with all that history under its belt, and plenty of people who know and practice this martial art, we come to the main question of this article: Is Jiu-Jitsu a sport that is featured in the Olympics, or a sport that is expected to be seen in any future or near-future Olympic Games.

Well, sadly, the answer to this question is a resounding no, at least for the moment.

It was announced on April 1st of 2021 that Jiu-Jitsu would be included in the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.

When people noticed the date, they eventually realized that this was intended to be nothing more than a quick, if slightly cruel, April Fool joke.

Since then, there has been no word as to the status of Jiu-Jitsu as a sport at the Summer Olympic Games.

How Olympic Sports Are Selected

So, why is it that such a popular sport and martial art, with both it and its most prominent variants, hasn’t made it to the main Olympic Games yet?

Well, the answer to that is a little complicated, and it has to do with how the official International Olympic Committee decides what sports are held at the summer and winter games.

To summarize the main points, there are several factors that will often dictate if a sport is considered in the first place, amongst many others:

  • How old the sport is, and how long it has existed as an active sport.
  • How popular a given sport is in that year’s game’s host country.
  • How expensive it would be to broadcast the event.
  • Whether the sport has an official International Sports association or federation to help regulate or govern it.
  • That organization must meet both the World Anti-Doping Code and the Olympic Charter.

On the face of things, it would appear that Jiu-Jitsu is primed for being selected, and is still often considered.

However, the fact that there are many variations of this martial art, all operating under slightly different rules, makes it difficult to establish which variety should be considered for the Olympics.

And considering that each variation has wildly different levels of popularity across the world, with Japanese Jiu-Jitsu being the most popular in Japan and many other countries, compared to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, which is most popular in the Americas, the discussion will likely continue.

Final Thoughts

So, without a clear stance on what form would be practiced, the discussion of Jiu-Jitsu’s viability at the Olympics remains uncertain.

However, with such a popular martial art, it is impossible to ever completely rule out.

Christopher Anderson
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