In this article we’ll cover what your lineage means and why it should matter to you. Every reputable martial art school should, at a minimum, understand their gym’s history and their own lineage. You don’t have to research all the details that go all the way back to the founder of your martial art but at a minimum you should know your lineage two degrees above you. Basically know who your coach’s coach is.
So what exactly is lineage?
Lineage refers to your pedigree. In olden times, in the days of jousting you would hear mention of names involving their father’s name, or a location where they are from as a marker of their legitimacy to some birth right or status. In Jiu-Jitsu it’s much the same without the pomp and circumstance. You don’t have to go all the way back to the founder of your martial art but at a minimum you should know your lineage 2 degrees above you. Basically knowing your coach’s coach. While lineage is not an end-all-be-all this provides a litmus test to see if you are at a reputable gym. If your coach is not being honest with you about who they promoted or trained under they may be dishonest about other aspects of their training and their business.
From a historical perspective lineages are pretty cool to check out. Knowing who taught who is like studying your family’s genealogy. Even though we don’t share genetic traits through a Jiu-Jitsu lineage, you’ll see students of a lineage sharing technical traits or philosophical traits with each other. Instructors should try to keep their personal styles in check by showing a wide variety of techniques giving their students options. Inevitably the instructor’s style will bleed through simply by way of rolling and the natural teaching preferences of the instructor.
Traditionally lineage follows a chain going straight up if you are lucky enough to keep your same coach through training. This however is rarely the case (especially in the US) so what happens if you move around for work and need to move gyms? If you’re moving gyms especially between belts it’s a good idea to let people know what coach and team you got belts from.
In our next article we’ll do a breakdown on our lineage here at Archimedes Jiu-Jitsu Academy.