The second and final installment of FREEROLL Contributor Tanvir Mosharraf's exclusive interview with Siddharth Singh, the highest ranking BJJ Practitioner in India.
Read Pt. 1 online here.
What is the biggest challenge you foresee, with the growth of BJJ in India?
To me the biggest challenge is instructors with dubious credentials. They hand out belts to anyone who is willing to pay and not earn. I do not believe in compromising the quality of the program just to attract enthusiasts and make a quick buck.
In this regard I have committed my life to Jiu Jitsu and growing it in India, so no matter how difficult it may seem I am not giving up.
Do you think the Indian parampara would be an obstacle for the growth of BJJ?
See, India is a key player in globalization. On one hand, say if you go to north of Delhi, to Haryana you will come across the pehlwans who have trained in khusti for generations. However, it is a male dominated sport. In the midst we have Geeta Phogat who has become a champion change maker.
So yes, similarly in BJJ we have less women training than men. But that socio-cultural scenario is changing. I have women training in my Muay Thai program. Some of them occasionally drop by for a BJJ class. The number of women training BJJ regularly at my academy is only a handful. However, having said that, I am very optimist about more and more women getting involved with BJJ in India. To me it is an untapped market that we need to explore.
Can the NRIs or PIOs who train BJJ in any way help, develop BJJ in India?
Yes, definitely! They can drop by BJJ academies in India to give practitioners a body to roll with. They can share knowledge and knowhow that they gain from their coaches. However, they should not conduct one day seminars and hand out belts to profit from unethical means.
What’s your take on communication, such as social media, especially facebook in retrospect to BJJ today?
I think the media, especially the social media helps people identify and expose scams in the fight game. The biggest one for me now is shady characters giving away BJJ belts. I do a podcast namely “Lockdown with Sid” with a view to learn and teach. So, I’m a huge advocate of using technology to learn and teach.
✓ Parampara can be described as the way of life derived from ancient Vedic texts that dictates among other things roles and responsibilities of its members in a community.
✓ Pahalwans is a name given to the wrestlers of India. The word originates from Iran.
✓ Khusti is the South Asian folk wrestling. There are many variations and some areas of South Asia have a rich history and prominence.
✓ Geeta Phogat is an Indian women wrestler. She won the first ever gold medal in wrestling at the commonwealth games and also has other accolades to her credit
✓ NRI stands for Non Resident Indians and PIO stands for Person of Indian Origin. They are part of the diaspora of people with Indian heritage around the world.
✓ Akhara, a Sanskrit origin word can be translated to ‘place of practice’ .It can include accommodation, training and food.
✓ Dangal can mean a bout or challenge, say in the form of traditional wrestling competition.
Every BJJ journey has its own story. The story of BJJ in India is relatively new, and the world waits to see what India has to offer. India has a rich history of wrestling. But today, a globetrotting martial artist travelling to India has the option of visiting a BJJ academy along with stopping by at an Akhara. At a time when dangal is fighting to find its place in the hearts and minds of people, perhaps BJJ can complement the grappling community of practitioners by providing versatility in practice to the fight game.