In a recent report by the New York Times, it was initially claimed that Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg was rendered unconscious during a jiu-jitsu match. However, conflicting accounts have emerged since then.
According to Zuckerberg himself and his coach, the incident did not result in him being knocked out but rather involved intense exertion that led to audible grunts. They refute the claim that he was rendered unconscious.
To clarify the situation, Joe Bernstein, the reporter from the New York Times, shared a tweet providing further details on the matter.
UPDATE: After publishing our story, I heard from both Mark Zuckerberg and his Brazilian jujitsu coach. They both insisted that Mr. Zuckerberg had *not* lost consciousness, and the coach said that the referee had mistaken his effortful grunting for snores: t.co/xicWVdSfke— Joe Bernstein (@Bernstein) June 3, 2023
The 38-year-old tech billionaire told an interviewer last year that he began studying martial arts during the coronavirus pandemic.
He told podcaster Joe Rogan that the sport’s “primal" nature helped him boost his energy level and tackle challenges at work.
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What is Jiu Jitsu and How is it Different from MMA?
Zuckerberg trains with coach Dave Camarillo, who has taught several UFC mixed martial arts (MMA) champions. Unlike MMA, Brazilian-style jiu-jitsu emphasizes fighting opponents through holds and control instead of kicks or striking.
The term “jiu jitsu" originates from the Japanese words “Jū," meaning “gentle," and “Jutsu," meaning “art." It is commonly referred to as the “gentle art."
Also known as yawara, is a form of martial art and combat technique that focuses on unarmed combat using holds, throws, and disabling strikes to subdue an opponent, as per Britannica. It originated among the samurai or warrior class in Japan around the 17th century. Originally developed to complement swordsmanship, jujitsu was a ruthless and pragmatic style aimed at incapacitating or killing adversaries in warfare.
Jujitsu encompassed various fighting systems that involved techniques such as striking, kicking, kneeing, throwing, choking, immobilizing holds, and the use of specific weapons. Central to these systems was the concept of jū, derived from a Chinese character often interpreted as “gentle." However, the term “gentle" in this context refers to the idea of redirecting or yielding to an opponent’s attack while seeking to control it. Additionally, jujitsu practitioners employed the hard or tough parts of their bodies, such as knuckles, fists, elbows, and knees, to target vulnerable points on their opponents.
The popularity of jujitsu declined following the Satsuma Rebellion in 1877 but experienced a resurgence since the 1990s, gaining renewed interest and recognition.
Jijitsu differs from MMA. MMA, short for mixed martial arts, is a comprehensive term that highlights the diverse nature of the sport. Accomplished MMA fighters receive training in a range of disciplines, including karate, muay thai, kickboxing, boxing, taekwondo, sambo, and judo, as per a report by Elite MMA.
The sport gained significant media attention and widespread popularity in the early 1990s, primarily due to the emergence of the successful TV show, UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship).
The main distinction lies in the focus and techniques employed in each discipline. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) primarily centers around ground grappling, emphasizing takedowns and submissions. It involves techniques to control and submit opponents through joint locks and chokes while on the ground.
On the other hand, MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) combines a variety of striking and grappling techniques. It incorporates strikes, kicks, throws, and ground wrestling styles, along with other martial arts disciplines. MMA fighters need to be proficient in both stand-up striking and ground-based grappling, including takedowns and submissions.
While BJJ is commonly practiced as a component of MMA training, MMA itself encompasses a broader range of techniques and skills. In other words, BJJ techniques can be found in MMA, but MMA practices are not typically incorporated into Brazilian Jiu Jitsu training.
What is the Controversy?
As per MMA News, Mark Zuckerberg encountered a match where things didn’t go in his favor. During this particular bout, it appeared as though he was rendered unconscious by his opponent, as per the referee’s assessment.
However, after the New York Times published an article on Zuckerberg’s Jiu-Jitsu endeavors, both Zuckerberg and his coach, Dave Camarillo, promptly disputed the account. They clarified that the match was halted by the referee upon hearing what was mistaken for snoring, indicating unconsciousness. Zuckerberg and Camarillo assert that the referee misunderstood the situation, as the sounds heard were actually due to heavy breathing, not unconsciousness.
The question of whether Zuckerberg was truly rendered unconscious remains unanswered. Instances have arisen in which referees mistakenly believed a competitor was choked out, only to discover they were not. Conversely, there have also been cases where a competitor was briefly unaware of their unconsciousness, later realizing they had lost consciousness. As a result, the true nature of this particular incident could fall into either category.
When Did Zuckerberg Get Into Training?
Cultural critic Casey Johnston told the New York Times that sports like Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu hold appeal for Silicon Valley individuals as they provide an opportunity to reconnect with a primal fighting spirit, but within a highly structured and formalized context.
“It’s like being on a playground with a bully, but in this new framework," Johnston explained. “It’s not quite choreographed, but the stakes and rules are clear."
For Mark Zuckerberg, who has faced numerous challenges in recent years, including election interference controversies, struggles with his metaverse project, and significant layoffs, this seems to be an opportune time for him to fight back and assert himself, the report says.
It further explains how Zuckerberg is not the only tech mogul to prioritize physical fitness. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, in his 50s, has notably developed muscular arms, strong shoulders, and impressive vascularity. However, friends of Zuckerberg claim that his newfound fitness routine does not come as a surprise.
Although Zuckerberg initially gained attention as an “indoor cat," a millennial nerd who outsmarted the athletic elites at Harvard, the 39-year-old has been dedicated to physical activities throughout his life. He captained his prep school’s fencing team and became an avid runner in the 2010s.