Jiu-Jitsu: the ultimate underwater martial art?

San Francisco underwater portrait photographer Erena Shimoda has been taking some really nice photos of female Jiu-Jitsu practitioners. According to the artist, “There’s a sweet science and a beauty to it.” You can see part of her collection here. Look at the photos and you might hear the voice of Bruce Lee. “Be like water,” he said in A Warrior’s Journey. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bruce_Lee:_A_Warrior%27s_Journey ) Shimoda agrees:

I love the beauty of martial art and I wanted to show that with my underwater magic. I have been practicing Muay Thai since I was 19. After 20 years, it was getting too hard on my body and I had to slowdown, so now I’m learning Brazilian jiu jitsu little by little. When I was rolling and practicing some movements on the mat in a 360-degree space, it reminded me of being underwater and it was therapeutic.

But while Shimoda has been creating symbolic representations with a waterproof lens, Michael Frison and Danieal Doran have taken the matter more literally. In the video below, they transform her artistic theory into wet reality. “Swim into my guard, bro,” one man presumably gurgles. Later, his partner plunges into back control, yielding up bubbly chains of aquatic submissions. The men are like bouncers at a bar in the Mariana Trench. They practice watery katas in the bright blue depths of a public swimming pool.

Of course, their demonstration begs the question: is grappling superior to striking in an underwater fight? In my opinion, the answer is obvious if you have a simple understanding of marine physics. Yes, a sport like Thai Boxing is quite handy in the dry summer streets of Phuket. But it is likely to get you killed in an underwater fight. Why?

It is a matter of second grade science, an issue of wet resistance vs. dull inertia. And before you turn that slow submarine of a left hook, it will probably be too late. Because when the tide presses a thousand pounds of salt and brine into the soaked landscape, clawing back shimmering brown trails of prehistoric sediment and the magnetic embrace of Poseidon tugs you towards the black crushing depths of an alien universe where you finally choke on the fluorescent warning of a creature never before seen by walking man, you’ll wish you had pulled life-guard and thrown up a Bermuda Triangle instead of teeping your way to Atlantis.

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