BJJ training and self defence… (part 1)

There has always been a lot of discussion about BJJ and it’s effectiveness as self defence style. In one corner we have the die hard grapplers who sware that every fight will end up on the ground, with them executing the perfect submission with grace, poise and style, before walking nonchalantly away from the downed opponent, who then, realizing the error of his ways, proceeds to dedicate his martial arts and self defence training to BJJ due to it’s proven superiority….

On the other hand we have the nay sayers who swear that BJJ is purely a competition style and any decent pressure point, dim mak, woo shoo finger hold, board breaking strike, excellent Kata etc. will disable the grappler prior to any effective take down, control or submission attempt.

The other main argument against grappling styles is that of the multiple opponents. The general scenario portrayed is that while you hold a fantastic mount on the attacker, his co-offender (assuming they are the bad guys) manages to execute a flying snap kick you to the head, before they both proceed to beat upon your skull…

From the outset of these ramblings I want to make the distinction between Competition BJJ training and the practical self-defence oriented BJJ training. This is a distinction that has to be made as more and more gyms are getting away from what the original intention of the Gracie family, which was BJJ as a fighting and self defence style. Now more and more academies are focussing more on points training and competition effectiveness… Why? The answer is simple, contemporary competition success equates to recognition, which to some, is the sole aim of their training.

I recently had a prominent Australian BJJ Black Belt tell me that un-equivocally, the most important thing to him, in any aspect of his students or personal training, was the team standings at the end of a competition. Is this what allows a club to claim to be The Best BJJ or TMA (traditional martial art) club in a town/ state? Does this philosophy carry over to the kids as well? If so, how does this bode for the future of the sporting side of BJJ. Also what affect does this have on the confidence of the students, are they aware of the limitations of the techniques they are being taught?

I make a point of getting all of our junior competitors together before a comp and make it clear that with out a doubt the most important thing to our coaches is to see them get in there compete, have fun and come away un-hurt. There is plenty of time for competitive pressure later, but I am aware that not all agree and you see time and time again, the loud, fat, obnoxious father, in his Tapout T-shirt, fuelling his failing ego through his adolescent son, who has made the commitment to train and compete…. sore subject, that we might come back to another time!

Would a more telling indication of training ethic and effectiveness of a club, or the style in it’s fundamental form, be the 20 year old on holiday in Bali who goes to the aid of an elderly man being assaulted by 3 drunken louts. The person in question managed to strike 1, take a second down and control the third, allowing the man to make his getaway. The point here is not the courage…. or stupidity… of the saviour, but the fact that his training had given him the confidence and knowledge to feel that he could deal with the situation… more on the actual story later.

The man going to the victims aid did not pull guard, nor execute a deep-half guard sweep.. no 50/50 either! What did he to? A Basic striking combination, a high, heavy, dumping double leg and then cage and close, body fold and strike from mount, with good aware ness of the position of the other assailants and did not dwell in positions for longer than needed.

So have a look at what you are being taught, speak with your coach, ask questions, but most of all, be honest and know your limitations…..

Part 2 to follow….

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