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Starting a conversation:Exploring Safety and Ethical Behaviors in Jiu-Jitsu for a Stronger Community


In light of recent cases in the global community of martial arts, and Jiu-Jitsu specifically, we have doubled down on our internal discussions at Gracie Barra focusing on safety in Jiu-Jitsu. If you happened to miss last month’s blog on how to train safely, we recommend that you check that out as well.

Safety comes in many different forms and is better understood from the proactive assessment and understanding of the risks. We must come together in a coordinated effort to increase our knowledge of safety risks and how to mitigate them. Broadly speaking, we can talk about physical and emotional safety. We are having an explorative conversation at Gracie Barra to try to better understand the issues that go into safe training and the feeling of being safe, which are two separate things.

Safe training is easy enough to understand and was covered in last month’s blog. Simply put, it is putting practices in place to prevent injury. Feeling safe has more to do with the interactions one has with others in their environment. In other words, one does not anticipate being harmed, either physically or mentally. Feeling safe comes back to the culture of the environment.


If you are a certified instructor with Gracie Barra, then you have read our full course on Ethics, covering ethical behaviors, code of conduct, and conflict resolution from an ethical perspective. That was one of the steps we invested in as part of this valuable conversation. We are no experts in the field. We are learning. And we are sharing what we have learned along the way.

Another step we are taking is to dive into the topic of inclusion to learn more. We believe that with this conversation, we need to better understand how we can be the most inclusive in our safety practices. We are currently embarking on research and information exploration to find ways to best meet the needs of different populations of students.

Let’s talk about a couple of examples. Touching on physical safety, we need to understand safety concerns for people with disabilities and limited mobility, and the accommodations we should have in place to ensure safety for our students. An example of emotional safety, we need to ensure that students who enter our school with different learning needs, backgrounds, and experiences feel welcomed and safe to explore and grow in Jiu-Jitsu through the support of our instructors and fellow students.

Understanding the role culture plays in how our students feel in our school is vital to a safe learning environment. An example of this is the increased presence of women on the mats. When the culture of a school is welcoming and feels safe for women, our population grows. That opens a whole other topic of relationships within the school,and how people communicate with each other using respectful language and respecting people’s personal boundaries.


Ask yourself this question. What does safety mean to you? What does ethical behavior mean to you? How do I ensure I act with integrity at all times?

Gracie Barra is the largest Jiu-Jitsu organization and we are in our 37th year. However, on the topic of ethics, we are still in our infancy. We have taken our first steps, and we are growing, but we have much to learn.

But as one of the foremost Jiu-Jitsu organizations in the industry, we have a duty and responsibility to explore this topic of safety and ethical behaviors for all of us to learn together. We do not have the answers, but we care and are trying to find the answers to this difficult topic to comprehend.

Although the topic of safely and ethically responsible choices is a very arduous topic to wade through and can get muddy from time to time, we must do it. We as an industry need to become more aware of the concerns that can occur.

We want the Global Community to know that we have taken our next steps on this topic. We are talking about it and we hope that you are talking about it as well. As we forge this path together, hopefully with individuals who have answered our request to be a part of the conversation, we must consider this one question.

What is the cost of doing nothing?

Blog written by Dawn Korsen, a Gracie Barra Brown Belt

We need your help. We are looking to see if any of you are licensed psychological professionals in the field of sports, disabilities, and child development. If so, and you would like to be a part of this discussion, please reach out to

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