Last week, The IJF – International Judo Federation came under fire from all grappling practitioners with the recent scandal of not allowing international Judo competitors to compete in other grappling sports.
A few days after, IJF president Marcus Vizer published a letter where he talked about preserving Judo and not ‘spiritually contaminating’ Judo with Migration to other sports.
Now the powerful French Judo federation which is run by the IJF, has decided to offer to counter the growing number of Judokas migrating to MMA practitioners by creating a new sport: “Mixed JuJitsu Arts”.
This is not the first time that the IJF has copied a growing martial arts. To counter BJJ’s growth, the IJF has also developed a circuit of Judo Ne Waza tournaments which basically follow very similar rules as BJJ with a focus on ground fighting. This is the same principle that FILA (International Wresting Federation) did with Grappling and their ‘Gi Grappling’ (sic).
The recent project is deemed “confidential”. The French Judo Federation and Associated Disciplines (FFJDA) is the 4th biggest National Sports Federation in France with over 570,000 licensees, and plans to create a new sport, “Mixed Jujitsu Arts.” In other words, MJA. An acronym that makes you think of MMA (Mixed Martial Arts), the most popular combat sport of the moment, which allows for ground strikes in addition to boxing techniques, wrestling, judo and grappling. This is obviously not a coincidence.
For years, the FFJDA tried to stop federal recognition of MMA, which it considers to be a degrading practice that violates human dignity. A vision that categorically refute the French practitioners. They confuse modern and regulated MMA (found in the UFC) with “free fight” or No Holds Barred that was going on some fifteen years ago…This comes as a surprise following the comments of Jean-Luc Rouge, General Secretary of the IJF and President of the French Judo Federation (FFJDA), who in an interview with L’Equipe TV said that “MMA fighters were stupid”
This MJA project is actually a reaction to creation of a “educational MMA” program, welcoming children and adults, in a judo club in France. This initiative was first condemned by the FFJDA with a threat of banishment from the federation for the judo club. The club reacted by affiliating with another federation!
A meeting convened in September at the headquarters of the Judo Federation in Paris seems even to concede the victory to the club by forfeit. “All that is done outside the FFJDA does not concern us” said Jean-Luc Rouge, president of the FFJDA, according to comments reported by Yann Leroux, director of the Thouars judo club.
A month and a half later, when the president of Judo Club Thouars received the minutes of this meeting, the French Judo Federation unveiled its counter attack: the birth of a new sport MJA.
“Following the meeting we considered that your approach as an educational discipline joining several practices could be compatible with judo practice jujitsu and related disciplines gathered in the Mixed Jujitsu Arts(…)” it is written in the letter in French.
Interviewed by L’Express magazine, the author of the letter, the Vice-President and Secretary General of the FFJDA Jean-René Girardot, ensures that “this is not a way to recognize MMA without saying it,” but said that MJA should “help clubs integrate our federal activities in educational MMA”
A the Thouars Judo club, there is no question of replacing the MMA program by the MJA. Particularly because the club is committed to the French Commission Association (MMA CFMMA) for recognition of MMA at national level.
“MJA is a created sport coming out of nowhere, it sounds like a joke, they change a letter and make us believe in a new discipline with certified teachers” criticizes Bertrand Amoussou, President of the CFMMA. Yet Judo teachers do not have the skills to be a teacher of jujitsu, even if they have the qualifications. We must not believe that jujitsu, is judo is with a wrist lock. ”
It has been recorded more than 700 organizations are offering MMA in France by the estimates of the Ministry of Sports and the number of practitioners vary from 7,000 to 40,000. It seems unlikely that they decide to join the Judo Federation, which sees the MMA as barbaric.
Will ‘MJA’ spread worldwide to all Judo federations? Only time will tell.