Gumby’s Column: My Least Favorite Thing Ever

At the risk of sounding like the crotchety old man telling the kids to get off my mat, I have to get this off my chest:

As much as I like an informal environment at my own gym (Heroes Martial Arts), I really only have three rules I rigorously enforce:


1: Display Common Courtesy

2: Have Common Sense

3: Don’t ever call it “Jitz”


There are a number of reasons I prefer to simply call our martial art Jiu Jitsu, at least when having discussions within our circles. Outside our circles saying Brazilian Jiu Jitsu or Gracie Jiu Jitsu makes a lot of sense to differentiate ourselves from other forms of Jiu Jitsu.

You can throw your own label on you Jiu Jitsu if you wish and I’ll begrudgingly allow it, but let’s be honest about the fact it’s a marketing term as opposed to anyone inventing anything new.

But I draw the line at “Jitz” (or “Jits”). It pains me to even type that out. I will never pronounce it that way. It’s an ugly word. I vomit a little in my mouth when I head new students say it. I have to suppress a more violent reaction when more veteran students use the word.

I don’t necessarily hate you for saying “Jitz”, but I do think you are a terrible person.

But never one to curse the darkness instead of firing up a lighthouse, let me at least explain to you, dear enlightened reader, why I detest it when people call it “Jitz”.


1: “Jitz” is such a lazy way of saying the martial art:

Perhaps Jiu Jitsu  doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue in an easy way without practice, but saying “Jitz” is just lazy. There are a few things you should be able to do at a minimum as a student. Like tying your belt properly, you should also learn how to at least pronounce the art you are training in so you don’t look like a dork on the mat.


2: …and it promotes a lazy way of thinking about the art.

What drives me even more crazy is when someone say they are going to work on their “Jitz” for the ground game, then train a few other martial arts like Muay Thai for their standup, wrestling for their take downs and Tae Bo for their conditioning. It’s rarely a serious MMA athlete that would throw that terminology around, it’s usually some wannabe. Here’s the thing, I will readily acknowledge that in today’s modern MMA you are going to need to train in multiple disciplines in order to be successful. And while I recognize it take a tremendous amount of hard work and courage to fight, I bristle at the notion that Jiu Jitsu isn’t a complete martial art. For those of us not planning on competing in a cage fight (the vast majority of us), if you needed to pick one martial art to train for life, there are many reasons to make Jiu Jitsu. It actually IS a complete martial art, and will cover scenarios including from the feet, getting to the clinch, and most importantly self-defense. It is not merely what happens when the fight hits the ground. Furthermore while MMA is a sport that realistically you have a short window to be able to compete in, Jiu Jitsu you can train for life in.


3: Saying Jitz makes absolutely no sense in translation.

“Jū” can be translated to mean “gentle, soft, supple, flexible, pliable, or yielding.” “Jitsu” can be translated to mean “art” or “technique”. What the hell is “Jitz” supposed to mean anyway?

You know that trend where people (possibly but not necessarily of Caucasian descent) would get kanji tattooed on themselves without any knowledge of what the symbols actually met. So what they thought meant “Strong Warrior” turned out to be “Chicken Lo Mein”?

In my mind running around saying “Jitz” is about the same thing.


4: “Jitz” is just one letter removed from, and sounds way too much like something else:

What I hear when you say “Jitz”

Do I need any more convincing that it sounds ridiculous?



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About the author


Gumby is the co-founder of back in 1997 with Scotty Nelson.