By/Por Juan Rodríguez Flores, Executive Editor LWR
For the wildly devoted Jiu-Jitsu practitioner, the Brazilian martial art represents much more than simply a discipline of self-defense. It’s a path to self-realization. Jiu-Jitsu vs. the World, an ambitious new documentary directed with passionate care by Dan Lewis, mines the sport for its deeper meaning by traveling from coast to coast and exploring the lives of those who have adopted it into their hearts.
From an outsider’s perspective, Jiu-Jitsu appears to be a thinly veiled version of traditional wrestling. The art of the practice, however, relies more on a strength of awareness and personal character than physical brawn. Each of these athletes aspire to a place where their mind and body work in perfect synchronicity. Once they achieve this apex, they can exist fully within themselves and successfully read their opponent’s every move and breath.
Throughout the course of the film, we hear from countless athletes who have experienced profound life changes and uncovered deeper layers of themselves through the martial art. It’s their way of life, and they approach it with a sacred sense of near religious fervor. The intensity of discipline required to excel in Jiu-Jitsu has veered some of them away from drugs and despair, and infused them all with a sense of meaning and purpose that they carry over into their relationships and other crucial elements of their daily existence. The sport demands an all-encompassing devotion to many of life’s most precious virtues, including patience, self-control, forethought, empathy and the ability to be completely present in the moment.
Many of them make it their mission to spread the teachings of Jiu-Jitsu to the young. In their view, Jiu-Jitsu should be implemented as an essential component of a child’s educational curriculum. They believe that early exposure to the sport empowers children to more readily access their best instincts in overcoming adversity, transcending defeat, and realizing their full potential.