Development Methodology | how Brazilian Jiu Jitsu built the modern world
One night in 1917 a young man called Carlos Gracie was watching a Japanese Judoka and prizefighter called Mitsuyo Maeda at the Da Paz Theatre, in Rio de Janeiro. He decided to ask him to teach him Judo. And with that request the grounds were set for martial arts to be revolutionised.
Because Carlos Gracie, the smallest yet undefeated member of his fighting family, went on to become accredited with being one of the fathers of Brazilian Jujitsu and to help start a fighting dynasty with many of the Gracie family going on to win multiple world championships.
Every kid knows you win a fight on the ground
Carlos and the other practitioners achieved this by dropping the routine and applying a new “old” way of iterating and applying their fighting methodology.
They started to look at what really worked to win a fight. To do this they dropped the emphasis on routine and form in return for constant realistic sparring and intense focus on groundwork. And they iterated their repertoire based on what worked against the response of the challenger.
These principles would become embodied in a charter almost a century later by a team of 17 people that, in 2001, agreed and published a set of principles that the modern world would be partly built on.
It was called the Agile Manifesto
And it wasn’t about Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, it was about software development…
The Agile Manifesto was an accumulation of lessons from project management and software development methodology that had been accumulating for some time.
But never before had it been put together in such a provocative, revolutionary way.
And it was powerful
So powerful in fact that, just like Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for a duration, Agile went on to dominate many but not all categories of modern development methodology and produce many world champions. And that is a very, very good thing.
But under this process Agile, like Karate before it, a set of free flowing principles started to become codified with names such as extreme programming, TDD and Scrum.
With codification came structure and two week dev runs emerged as a prevalent standard with pseudo delivery, consultancy echoing and a clear control hierarchy.
And thus Agile became Karate
So next time you think of a project requirements and think about which development methodology you will use you should consider first how Carlos Gracie would have approached it and think like a Brazilian master.
Or, as the most famous proponent of Agile would have said:
“You must be shapeless, formless, like water. When you pour water in a cup, it becomes the cup. When you pour water in a bottle, it becomes the bottle. When you pour water in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Water can drip and it can crash. Become like water my friend”
Because, unless you are truly agile you’ll get Karate.
When what you really wanted was Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.