Wednesday, 7 April 2010

How BJJ is Useful for Self Defence

When MMA first developed into an actual sport the rule that seemed to float around in the martial arts world was that groundwork must be learnt if one wishes to be successful in it. How true this is. With the ability of being able to take down your opponent, one must learn how to control, escape from being held down and how to submit people.

However, self defence training is different to MMA. If one learns ground fighting as it is portrayed in MMA and grappling competitions, thinking that they will become efficient in defending themselves on the street, they are mistaken.

Rolling around on the floor looking for submissions or chances to ground and pound your opponent is a bad situation to be in. With the threat of multiple attackers, and possible attacks with weapons, never mind the fact that street fights don’t take place on nice cushioned mats, fighting on the ground is the last place you want to be.

Because of these facts, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has been given a reputation by some as an art crucial for MMA but an art of little value for self defence. In actual fact though, this is wrong. Yes grappling on the floor, primarily what BJJ teaches is not advised in a self defence situation, but learning and applying techniques from BJJ can help someone survive certain areas of street fighting.

Most street fights start at close range which quickly goes into clinch range and from here it is very easy to end up on the ground and without any ground grappling knowledge, one can find themselves in trouble. Because of this, the reasons why some areas of BJJ are effective and probably vital for self defence include,

BJJ teaches takedown defence – Although Judo or Wrestling may offer more takedown defence training, BJJ also does include it. In order to be dominating on the ground one must gain good positional control of their opponent and a good throw/takedown will provide this. Because of this learning how to defend being taken down is included in BJJ.

BJJ teaches how to escape being held on the ground – If you are held down on the ground in a self defence situation you need to be able to escape as quickly as possible so you can get back up onto your feet to escape attacks from your opponents friends, something which usually happens in today’s street fights. BJJ teaches practical escapes to all types of hold downs and if you are concerned with self defence training, you need to know them.

BJJ provides experience on the ground – There are not many arts that give as much groundwork attention as BJJ and because of this, one can quickly become familiar and more importantly, comfortable on the ground. A lot of martial artists with no groundwork experience start panicking when they hit the floor and this leads to a lot of energy wasting which makes getting up a lot more difficult.

There are useful techniques that can be applied for self defence in all martial arts. It is always up to the person learning the art to seriously think about how they can adapt them for street fighting by making them as practical as possible.

If BJJ students think about how they can adapt the techniques they learn, for the street, they shall find that they will be able to defend themselves very well from the clinch and when on the ground. Hopefully other martial artists can also include this in their own training to make themselves that little bit more knowledgeable.

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Anonymous said...

Sure BJJ has some value for self-defense, however there are arts far better suited like systems that actually specialize in self-defense instead of just giving it a nod. In krav maga and Japanese jiu-jitsu you'll learn how to counter holds and takedowns, only more violently and thus presumably more effectively. If they're worth their salt you'll also learn how to get out of holds but in ways that are more efficient and far less technical than in BJJ (eyepokes, groingrabs, earslaps). The methodology of training on the ground for survival as opposed to victory in competition is totally different and it's a well known fact it takes a long time to get any good at BJJ, let alone good enough to beat someone who fights dirty and has 20 or more pounds on you. In those circumstances you can't afford to maneuver much and you don't have the time to do so: you need to damage him and get up asap.

In short: there are too many holes in the BJJ-game to make it really useful for someone solely interested in self-defense and getting to a decent level quickly (preferably in a few months) especially as a stand-alone art. I'm sorry but I don't buy your conclusion and your optimistic 'all arts are equally useful in all respects': BJJ is a very intricate art and techniques from it can indeed be useful but they need to be tweaked and trained in a completely different way. Like most intricate arts they're too complicated to be learned quickly and they do focus way too much on the ground (that's like learning how to completely overhaul your entire car engine and not how to change your oil or check tire-pressure)... You present it as a strength, I see it was a weakness since at least 3/4 of the time they spend on the ground should be spent on learning basic stand up like how to avoid suckerpunches (still the most common street attack and it will land you flat on you ass about as quickly as a good shoot if you're not careful). If you ever find yourself on the floor it means you completely mucked up your first reaction to an attack and you'll be in a world of shit no matter how much ground experience you have. These days people get attacked by multiple assailants and weapons are more and more common everywhere: what on earth has BJJ to offer that will counter that, get in the clinch and take him down? Great way to get knifed and criminals will like nothing better than you trying to grapple with them.
BJJ is not suited to self-defense, no matter what spin you put on it, it's still sports and it's not going to cut it on the streets. Besides street attacks are nothing like what you see in martial arts competitions (a common flaw in almost every art: they don't study real violence so they continually get surprised by people who, in their mind, attack so irrationally they blank out and get hit or worse) nor they do they even have the faintest clue as to how criminals and gangbangers operate: getting attacked by a gang of thugs is nothing like what you see in the movies and if you get set up and don't mess up their game (positioning and group tactics) you're going to be dogmeat unless you're extremely skilled and/or lucky.

my-groundfighter-life said...

I agree that BJJ (grappling) is not the solution to all self defense situations but no the sport matches the effectiveness on the ground. Learning how to move on the ground, understanding how to cope with brute strenth by using you body in different angles, and knowing that there are options when you are fighting from your back.
Of course, you are not looking for a submission on the ground but I can guarantee that someone WILL pass out ater getting choked and when arm barred, the arm WILL break.
In a life or death situation and weapons are involved nothing is 100% guaranteed, not Wing Revolution, not Krav Maga, not BJJ. You can just prepare for the worst and hope you get out of there as soon as possible ALIVE.
Grappling basic in combination with a reality based self desense system (Krav Maga, Wing Revotion, Spear system etc.) is the way to go

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