Is Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Effective in Self-Defense Situations?
“Think street, train sport, practice art.” – Chris Haueter
No one is immune to the threat of a street fight or from being attacked. You can take measures to limit the possibility of being involved in a physical conflict. Training will eventually create a certain persona, or attitude, that can speak volumes to a potential attacker. However, as Rener Gracie explains:
“Even if you consider yourself the most peaceful person on earth, you don’t pick the fights. The fight picks you.”
The Boy Scouts said it best. Be prepared. There is no need to watch over your shoulder. Just consider this important question. Will your Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) learnings against an attacker translate to defending yourself in otherwise dangerous situations?
Is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu about sports or self-defense?
Sports are entertainment, plain and simple. As grateful as school owners ought to be for the role UFC has played in drumming up business, they are not likely to disregard the self-defense aspects of the martial art. That is how the techniques are demonstrated and how schools operate. On the other hand, techniques such as Spider Guard and De La Riva Sweeps will be taught for competitors to dominate tournaments.
This is the nature of most martial arts styles. It often gets confusing in the Western world. Martial arts have always served the primary purpose of self-defense, but competition also predates its modern role as a multi-million-dollar sports and entertainment industry. Perhaps the difference between the ‘sport’ application of martial arts and the traditional martial arts is best described by one of sports’ most famous champions, Anderson Silva:
“I practice the martial arts. I don't practice MMA. MMA is my job; MMA is a new sport. Martial arts is the knowledge from the ages.”
BJJ in self-defense situations.
According to Rener Gracie, there are two positions in a self-defense situation. There is the dangerous ‘red zone’ and the safe ‘green zone’. These refer to distances that are quire different than ones kept between in opponents in a sports competition. As a matter of fact, the distance kept on the mats is not effective in self-defense situations at all.
In self-defense situations, the whole idea is to keep the attacker far enough away so that they cannot strike you or so close that there is no room for them to attack you. You must avoid the sort of damage that can occur between these two distances. That is why the key to eliminating danger is removing that space.
When someone steps inside your guard, bring that attacker down toward you in order to control his or her posture and disallow the person from striking. Any attempt to hit you is a perfect opportunity to fill the space by catching the arm or securing an overhook (or underhook). Gracie calls it ‘disrupting the distance’.
When an attacker tries to create distance, you push him or her back so far that they out of striking range. You can stop them from advancing with your knees and shin. Keep their arms away from you face and you’ll be safe.
What are the best BJJ techniques or positions in a self-defense situation?
The best position in a self-defense scenario is when you have the attacker’s back. Take them to the ground. If the attacker is similarly sized, you can simply lift and dump your opponent to the ground simply by using the takedown techniques you have learned in class.
Control your opponent without allowing them to control you. Dominant positions such as side control may be effective in competition, but they are not useful in a self-defense scenario. The attacker can hold you tight even from the bottom position Here are some techniques you can execute in this position while remaining safe:
- The knee mount, or knee-on-belly, requires you to place approximately 90% of your weight through your knee and onto the torso. This allows you to pin the attacker to the ground while maintaining a safe distance.
- A technical mount allows you to gift wrap one of the attacker’s arms. Getting someone in the BJJ gift wrap, positionally speaking, is like how a person’s arms are wrapped when put in a straitjacket. You are on top of your opponent, like mount, only halfway behind them, as if you’re attacking their back. You use your arms to trap theirs.
- Omoplata is considered one of the most effective ways to restrain an attacker on the street. It is a shoulder joint lock technique which utilizes the attacker’s legs and hips to manipulate the opponent’s shoulder joint to an extent that the joint reaches its maximal degree of motion.
Is Brazilian Jiu Jitsu effective in self-defense situations? The answer is yes. BJJ training gifts you with the knowledge of how to engage safely in a street environment. It provides you with the techniques that can help you remain safe. Thus, you should be comfortable in any self-defense situation.