Since the dawn of time, grappling sports have been associated with meatheads, jocks, and other character traits disassociated with thoughtful personalities. Jiu-jitsu, however, has been somewhat unique in that regard, being a martial art that has been adept at supporting and idolizing the more studious and creative dispositions of figures such as Mikey Musumeci, Keenan Cornelius, Caio Terra, Jamil Hill-Taylor, to name a few.
BJJ is also slightly different from other, more traditional, grappling styles in that its practitioners and fans do not derive solely from high schools or colleges. The majority of jiu-jitsu academies across the Western World run classes with large numbers of students who are in their late 20s, 30s, and 40s, a fact that places our sport in a somewhat singular ecosystem.
This singularity has also translated into a sport that nourishes and welcomes individuality across a spectrum of items. Uniform-wise, for example, unlike the monochromatic judo gis or boring wrestling singlets, jiu-jitsu practitioners have a wide range of options that can go from the most flamboyant to the soberest of training garments. At the forefront of jiu-jitsu’s creative fashion is Scramble, one of the UK’s pioneering BJJ clothing brands. Based in beautiful Bournemouth, England, this organization has welcomed innovation from the very get-go. More recently, over a decade since the inception of the brand, founders Matt Benyon and Ben Tong have yet again broken free from the norm by launching the first BJJ-related NFTs as a celebration of 11 years of Scramble culture.
“What is an NFT?” you might ask. The initials stand for Non-Fungible Token, which represents a unique and non-interchangeable unit of data stored on a digital ledger. NFTs are one of the leading trends in the blockchain world and are associated with easily-reproducible items such as photos, videos, audio, and other types of digital files as unique items.
Scramble co-founder Matt Benyon explained to BJJ Heroes earlier this month that “buying NFTs is no different to buying artwork. You buy what appeals to you and you hold it, and as the market matures or the item becomes more valuable or sought after, you can consider selling it for a profit.”
The interest in digital assets is not something new to Benyon or Tong, nor is the brand’s involvement with this type of technology: “Both Ben and I have kept a close eye on the crypto market for many years.” Matt explained, “We both have small investments in cryptocurrency. Back in the day, we sold a box of Scramble to a gym in Japan for some bitcoin, which sadly we didn’t hold onto as we probably could have retired on it by now.”
Keeping with the trend of having a good hand on the pulse of anything innovative and creative, testing the digital market made good sense to the team. To test the idea the company digitized their best-selling gi, the Athlete. The flagship kimono model of Scramble, which has been refined over the years. A gi that is synonymous with the brand. “As NFTs seem to be trending towards collectibles and a pixel art style, we figured it would be a great start to digitize our previous gi releases and make them available as NFTs for people to collect. The out-of-print and long sold-out gis will be extra special when they drop“. The first batch went on sale last month when the idea proved to be a downright success.
“The first batch [ of NFTs] completely sold out in a few days, and we have released a number of batches since then. The high gas fees [transaction fees] have been a bit of a barrier to sales but as soon as that levels out we will continue to sell. We have done some private sales too which is a good way around the gas fees.”
The digital artwork concept appears to be gaining traction in the jiu-jitsu market, and in other sports as pointed out by Matt: “The ADCC is working on NFTs for the show and the athletes. All major sports are participating in the creation of NFTs now“. Indeed the digital market has been one of the most profitable business decisions of the past decade, with crypto millionaires becoming a part of our modern-day vocabulary.
In an article earlier this month, Fortune Magazine explained that two-thirds of Gen-Z believe cryptocurrencies will be their way into personal wealth while Business Insider has also expressed their belief that bitcoin may help address the issue of societal income inequality in the near future.
With all the positive feedback it is reasonable to assume this market gathers plenty of potential from a business standpoint, while artistically, time does appear to add value to the artwork. These factors lead Benyon to believe Scramble’s venture will be a great asset in the future. “Considering the potential of the market, we can say that the NFT market and crypto, in general, is only trending upwards in the long term, so getting in on the ground floor seems like a good idea.”
To check what is available in Scramble’s new venture check the brand’s crypto sales website << here (OpenSea) >>
Or visit the Scramble Blog for more information << here >>