Redbelt Red Belt

Redbelt: Possible Spoilage (If you haven’t seen it..)

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I have mixed feelings about “Redbelt.”  First, I must state that my wife, who often tires of hearing me talk about Jiujitsu, said it was “really good.” My wife even waited for me to walk by her in the theater and then tried to grab me around the neck like the main character, Chiwetel Ejiofor, did to the attorney character.

It is a good movie and was written by someone (David Mamet) who was truly interested in the art. I also believe he stayed true to his vision and I am grateful for him creating the first “major” motion picture devoted to BJJ.

The film was geared more toward the self-defense aspect of BJJ and pragmatic ways to react toward violence. It also focused more on the honor and tradition more characteristic of Asian martial arts. From listening to Mamet’s interviews on the Fightworks Podcast  and other interviews on Youtube and elsewhere this was intentional.

I guess this is where I felt the twinge of longing while viewing the film. The focus was on the training of people who would use the techniques for a living (policemen/bodyguards/movie extras). The regular Joes and Janes, who I believe constitute the majority of participants in the U.S., received minimal focus. My wife argued that the movie was “a call for returning to the basics” and that things (like promotions) can turn into a “zoo” otherwise. I guess that was highlighted by the idea of tying up body parts and blind folding fighters in a state sanctioned fight. It was legitimate as a tool to help train police officers in how to properly react to defiant handcuffed prisoners but a retarded theme for a professional fight.

In my experience, BJJ schools have never been as serious as the academy in the film and I don’t know if the academy was portrayed in this fashion for the purpose of the movie or what Mamet and other “elders” in the art would like to see as a new direction for BJJ training. I must also state that even though I do not view BJJ in the traditional Asian martial art sense, it still has many traditions and values that are expressed and must not be violated just as in the more traditional arts (e.g., Karate, Tae Kwon Do, etc.)

But I cast no apersions against David Mamet. I enjoyed seeing what I love to do being addressed in a serious way.

Post note: I thought it was hilarious that he was reviewing knife fighting techniques the night after he was “stabbed.”