Self Defence – The ‘Gracie JJ’ v ‘Brazilian JJ’ Debate

Jun 9, 2016 | Articles, BJJ, News

You would have to be living on another planet if you train any ‘form’ of Brazilian Jiujitsu and are not aware of the longstanding debate concerning sport Vs self defence. There are debates and arguments that could be put forward for both sides, but I think it goes further than that.

Can I begin first of all by reminding everyone that Sifu Bruce Lee was the greatest advocate of the view that no one style has it all. His most famous and highest ranked student Guro Dan Inosanto is the greatest living exponent of this view. He is not only an expert in multiple striking arts, grappling arts and weaponry arts, but also an expert in blending the techniques and methodologies from different systems.

Lets look at some general questions or things you should ask:
Does the system or style you train in teach you how to deal with the following?

  1. Bladed & non Bladed weapons
  2. Standing Striking with punches, kicks, knees & elbows
  3. Standing grappling/wrestling
  4. Throwing
  5. Ground grappling
  6. Striking on the floor
  7. Dealing with multiple opponents

If it doesn’t, (unless you have knowledge gained elsewhere) then your chances of being able to deal with a ‘self-defence’ situation in which many of the above situations apply perhaps in combination are reduced!

Now I think it would be fair to say, that Gracie JJ or any system of BJJ which teaches self defence does NOT deal with all of the above scenarios . Those systems in my view are particularly weak when dealing with weapons and multiple opponent situations! This is not a criticism but rather a fact.

Is there a difference between ‘Gracie JJ’ and ’Sport’? Of course there is. Knowledge is King. If you don’t know how to block basic punches and kicks standing (where most fights start) then you are at a disadvantage. If you don’t know how to deal with strikes whilst you are on the floor, then you are at a disadvantage.

Can ‘sport JJ’ help you in a self defence situation if that is all you know? – Of course it can! Why? Because ordinarily you will be in good shape, able to withstand pressure and be generally used to some sort of contact. But is that enough? It might be depending on what happens but in reality, for the majority it will not be enough.

A mixed martial artist will ordinarily be well trained, in good shape, able to deal with punches and kick, can also wrestle and grapple but if not specifically trained, is likely to have difficulties in dealing with weapons and or multiple opponents.

If you the current way to train does not adequately deal with or prepare you to deal with 1-7 above, then you cannot describe yourself as a ‘complete’ fighter or training in a ‘complete’ system. Bear in mind….. even if you study multiple systems, that itself is no guarantee of success in a street situation but you may have more of a fighting chance.

Clearly we should not live life as if we are about to get into a street confrontation any moment, but equally we shouldn’t walk around thinking that what we know is enough, particularly if you are not trained in dealing with 1-7 above. At the very least, if you train an art or system that does not ‘strike’, you need to learn for yourself how to deal with that. Similarly if some one grabs you in a bearhug, guillotine or something like that and you don’t know how to deal with it, then you need to educate yourself.

Train whatever style or system you like. Have fun and stay healthy, but always remember that no one style is highly efficient in dealing with all scenarios 1-7. However, some are better than others.

David Onuma is a 6 x IBJJF European champion & 2nd Degree Black belt under Master Ricardo De La Riva, a highly ranked Instructor in the Filipino Martial arts/Jeet Kune do & Silat and qualified in Sensei Erik Paulson’s system of CSW

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