The US Navy has faced up to the fact that enormous guns, nuclear missiles and an array of Top Gun navy fliers aren't the be all and end all when it comes to facing down the world's bad guys.
The Naval Special Warfare Development Group at the U.S. Special Operations Command - formerly known as SEAL Team 6 - has issued a request for quote in its search for a Brazilian to teach them the ins and outs of front mounts, leg sweeps and finishing techniques from the standup position.
If this makes it sound like the SEALs - who specialise in counter terror work - are looking to turn one on their teams into a crack honeypot team, don't worry. The document, here, makes it quite clear that the SEALs want someone to teach them the finer points of Brazilian jujitsu, for "five (5) days from 19-23 January 2009 for thirty (30) hours in South America."
As well as the aforementioned techniques, the SEALs are looking for insight into the following: guard, side control, mount, trap, roll, escaping, half guard, finishing moves, grappling rounds and drills, front guillotine, rear chokes. All par for the course in Jiu-Jitsu, which originated in Japan and is roughly translated as 'the gentle art'.
Of course, the US Navy are not going to take on any joker who's watched a few cage fighting tournaments and has a collection of instructional DVDs. The "contractor" must be "a black belt instructor in Brazilian jiu-jitsu with at least twenty-five (25) years experience. Must have appeared in Mundial tournaments. Experience in teaching law enforcement to military and Special Forces. Must provide a Portuguese-English Translator with jiu-jitsu."
Anyone with a smattering of martial arts knowledge would guess that what the SEALs want to do is train with the Gracies, the Brazil-based family behind "Brazilian Jujitsu", and who some believe are the sine qua non of ground fighting. Given that they're the people who "invented" Brazilian jiu-jitsu, asking for someone with a black belt and 25 years' experience in the style means you want to train with a Mr Gracie.
Perhaps government procurement rules would preclude the Navy simply calling up and saying "Hi, can you take a block booking in mid January?", meaning it has to go through the motions of soliciting a tender.
The RFQ could anger some in the SEAL's own backyard. While the former SEAL Team 6 are based in Virginia, the SEALs' HQ is in San Diego. A quick run through Google throws up nine Jiu-Jitsu clubs in San Diego, five of which appear to be accredited Gracie outfits.
If the SEALs had been prepared to look slightly further afield they could have make a booking at the excellent Zen Budokai, a jiu-jitsu organisation based in San Francisco, and which is the martial art of choice for the tech whizzes just down the road at Stanford University. ®