In a pinch this past weekend I filled in for a friend and photographed a local Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tournament hosted at his local dojo. Having never shot a martial arts event of any kind, I decided to give it a shot. 4800 photos and two sore quadriceps later and I think we have a success.
I shot this entire event on a Fuji X-T2 using the 16-55mm f2.8 lens. I used a custom film simulation based off Acros Red and shot entirely JPEG to limit my processing time and keep my buffer free to shoot large amounts of bust shots. It also helps that the black and white simulation help isolate some of the raw intensity of the art and not be taken away from by the sometimes colorful dojo mats & rash guards worn by the competitors.
This event was more challening than I first anticipated. One, there are up to four matches going on simultaneously across the dojo. Four matches, one photographer, leads to a long day of hustling around to get from shot to shot. Second, jiu-jitsu has the nasty habit of turning away from you at seemingly the worst possible moment. Just as you think you’re in position to catch a submission finish, the fighters will turn and you’ll get nothing but their backs and miss out on the expressive faces of combat. Lastly, knowing very little about the sport means I was not able to swiftly identify technique and predict where the action was going. That last ignorance is soley on myself of course.
A few select photos are below. Click to enlarge. Enjoy.