Zero G

Ever think about what Jiu-Jitsu will be like in the future? Inside BJJ contributor, Micah Caputo, breaks down the future of fighting and Jiu-Jitsu in this entertaining and thought provoking article.

Zero-G BJJ
By Micah Caputo
​It is 2011 and there should be space marines and flying cars any time now. We need to be ready for our colony on mars to rebel and start an interplanetary war. We need to know what martial art to teach our new space marines to use in zero gravity. There is only one way to solve this. The Ultimate Zero Gravity Fighting Championships. This competition pits representatives of different martial arts against each other in a zero gravity chamber containing a breathable atmosphere.

Of course with the latest in firearm technology why would anyone bother learning hand-to-hand combat in zero gravity? If a crew were boarding an enemy ship they would not want to fire guns inside the ship and risk depressurizing it and suicide killing everyone together.

Therefore, hand-to-hand fighting becomes essential to survival. This is also not ancient Rome and we cannot have full on gladiators with swords and knives fighting each other.

That would be human cockfighting or something. So hand-to-hand combat it is.
This could not be done in real outer space, because without a breathable atmosphere everyone would have to wear pressure suits. Suits complicate things a lot because chokes and strikes no longer work. Joint submissions may still work presuming that the suits do not have armor to prevent this. Also, if someone were wearing a suit the quickest way to kill them in outer space would be to shoot or knife a hole in it. The other problem with fighting in outer space is if the combatants become separated. Space is pretty big and if the combatants float apart they may never get within a hundred miles of each other again. To avoid these problems this competition will take place in a spherical, oxygen pressurized, zero gravity chamber dubbed “The Sphere.” This will simulate fighting on board a spaceship with no gravity very nicely, while also simulating the three dimensionality of fighting in true outer space.
First things first, we have to deal with those pesky, traditional martial arts styles. Striking is simply not going to work in the Sphere. If someone punches or kicks anybody the two combatants will be knocked back and the full force of the blow not be absorbed. Also, without any gravity or any surface to push off of, the blow will not be as powerful as it would be on Earth. Strikes are almost entirely out. A Muay Thai practitioner may be able to land repeated strikes to an opponent without floating apart if he had clinched with his opponent.  Of course the opponent could also throw strikes while they were clinched together and without a surface to push off of the strikes would not be very powerful and the fighter would not be able to put any rotation into those strikes, but still, it may actually be possible to do a little bit of low damage striking.
So striking is marginalized in zero gravity. That leaves us with grappling. Wrestling and Judo are pretty much out.

How is a fighter going to take down and pin their opponent without gravity? Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is the answer.

Of course many aspects of BJJ are simply not going to work. Side control would become impossible since the lack of gravity would prevent a combatant from pinning their opponent. It is also an equally advantageous position for both combatants since there is no objective up or down in the Sphere. Mount is also rendered ineffective by the lack of gravity. Without being able to crush the opponent with weight mount becomes closed guard. Other positions are rendered useless as well. De La Riva guard is worthless since the opponent cannot stand. Half guard becomes a mirror image position with neither fighter gaining any advantage. What positions would work?

The answer is the guard and the back. From the guard armbars, triangles, and kimuras would still work. Some types of open guard may also be effective, for example the spider guard. In the spider guard a combatant could pull their opponent down into their triangle choke or push them away. Of course, sweeps would not work since up and down become completely subjective without gravity. Cross guard or gift wrap would also be effective as they would allow a combatant to take their opponents back or set up an armbar or a triangle. The guard does have a problem though, all the angles and hipping out will apply a lot of rotational forces, which will cause the fight to very quickly and literally spin out of control. Only an experienced zero-g fighter will be have the control to prevent this from happening and when it does happen, avoid puking all over the place. Hopefully they will have invented Space Dramamine by then. The only way a zero gravity guard would work effectively is in a very tight and controlled manner.

This leads us to the best possible zero-g position, the back. If a combatant is on his opponents back he can safely attack without fear of reprisal. Also, with the hooks in and a good seatbelt, over-under grip applied the opponent will have very few escape options.

The shoulders to the mat escape would not be effective without a surface to put the shoulders on. The butt scoot method would also be ineffective without a surface to scoot against. The only possible defense would be to push the attacker’s arm to the other side of the head and spin into the closed guard. However, without gravity this will be difficult and will also initiate a lot of spinning. Only a combatant with an iron stomach will be able to make it in this kind of competition.

Nearly every fight in the Ultimate Zero Gravity Fighting Championships would end up with the winner submitting their opponent either from the guard or the back. A tight controlled grappling approach would work best, with most fights opening with a scramble for guard or back position. Size would also play a much smaller factor with a small competitor being able to defeat a much larger opponent easily. Due to the lack of gravity, a 135 pound person could push a 300 pound person about as easily as they could lift a feather. Of course, the 300 pound person would still have a large strength advantage and without gravity to slow them down cardio may not be as large a factor as it is on Earth. This also may not be the most fan friendly sport with all the grappling and all the spinning around making it difficult to see. It certainly sounds like fun though, and if NASA is ever up to putting this on, you could count me in.

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