BJJ and SELF DEFENSE

“However beautiful the strategy, one should occasionally look at the results.” – Winston Churchill

Oh, let the fun begin. I run this post once a year…it gets more comments than any other blog I have written. Let me start out, as usual, by saying that I absolutely respect BJJ. BJJ is like chess on the mat, the practitioners have to be very smart and in awesome shape. Most of the instructors at the Krav gyms I owned did BJJ with my blessing. I had a BJJ black belt teaching BJJ classes at my gyms. I believe that we have to be well rounded and know what the heck we are doing on the ground. My son takes BJJ at a gym and I love what he is learning! I could have him in any discipline but I chose BJJ for him. There is nothing better for a school yard, one on one fight.

What slays me are the people advertising BJJ as the ultimate in self defense. I just ran across a web site for a bjj gym that said “Krav Maga will get you killed”. They actually said that statistically most fights are one on one bar room type fights with no weapon ivolved so it is a waste of time to train for anything but this type of one on one fighting. Even if this is a true statistical statement do we ignore any other type of attack because it is in the minority? Weapons certainly exist, run a daily google search for knife attacks or shootings across the country. Your in box will be full! People do get attacked by multiple attackers, people do get shot or stabbed and sexual assaults do happen. Because 50,000 of 80,000 daily attacks in the U.S. don’t involve a weapon or multi attackers that’s good enough reason not to train for weapons and multi attackers? What kind of logic is that…oh yeah, it’s the “I make money off of what I teach” kind of logic.

BJJ is an awesome sport but to train it alone for self defense absolutely ignores real world violence. It is absolutely betting the practioners life on the fact that there will only be one attacker and there won’t be a blade involved. BJJ’s philosophy is to patiently control an opponent until they can be submitted. In the real world every scumbag has a scumbag friend near by. We should always be looking to end things as quickly as possible and to get the heck out of there. I have a friend who told me about a buddy of his that went to a “BJJ for the street” gym. He got into an altercation in a bar and pulled guard on his attacker like he was taught. The guy drew a knife and stabbed him seven times. Another friend told me of a BJJ black belt who wrapped a guy up in a bar in just a few seconds, looked awesome doing it…right up until the guy’s buddy kicked the black belt in the face, broke his jaw and knocked him out. If you are on the ground tied up with someone you are absolutely making the assumption that he doesn’t have a knife and doesn’t have a buddy. These are not assumptions that will keep you safe.

From a thread on our old web site by my friend Aaron Jannetti; “If you understand the nature of violence, and how easy it is to harm someone, you will quickly understand that two places you don’t want to be are on the ground or wrapped up with someone.

There are some very impressive techniques which would absolutely get you f’d up with a violent individual in an icy parking lot.

Don’t believe me, fine. Here is the experiment. Find someone who you think can kick your ass with their grappling. Tell them to grab you up. Your only job is to see how many times you can stick your fingers on their eye brow ridge or grab the inside of their leg next to their testicles. Every time you can touch their eye brow is a time you could have gotten a finger in to their orbital socket. Every time you touch their leg is a ripped sack or torn off junk. You will quickly find the limitations of someone trying to hold you down on the floor.

Second experiment, grappler vs edged weapon. Take a magic marker, put it in your pocket. Have your ass whupping grappler put the ju-ju on you. Your only task is to get to the marker, and touch them with it. Their job is to shut you down. Much learning will take place.”

Have you ever tried bjj on concrete or blacktop? I’ve had friends who have and they inform me that there is no good position. Being on the bottom gets you ground into hamburger. Knees and elbows get torn to shreds when in side control. The mount sounds good until the opponent starts bucking and your knees slam over and over into the pavement.

That magic mount is such a strong position in the MMA ring. In the real world the dude on the bottom puts you in a big bear hug until his buddy can get over to ya and kick your head off. I had a friend who was a bouncer at a bar years ago. One night he took down a thug and broke his arm at the elbow with an armbar because the thug kept fighting. After breaking the thug’s arm he let loose, started to sit up and got cold cocked by the guy’s other fist. Broken bones and joints suck, but they aren’t an end all. Self defense ain’t over til you are safe and out of there.

I hate seeing women’s self defense instructors teach women to hit the ground. Women should be fighting with one goal and one goal only…to escape. Being wrapped up with the scumbag on the ground makes escape harder. Bad plan in my opinion. Worse yet is all of the law enforcement training I see being done with BJJ alone. Do you know why BJJ practitioners pin their opponents face up? To give the opponent a better chance of escaping. Law enforcement officers should definitely be putting suspects on their face, worrying about weapons and expecting a scumbag’s buddy to jump in. Trying to patiently control until you can submit isn’t smart in that context.

We just had training at our affiliate weekend on a bus. Multiple attackers, blades, handguns, etc. We had some BJJ guys in the training. How much of their BJJ do you think worked in that situation? The only way anyone got on the ground was to fall just right in the aisle. Aisles are pretty tight, there was no room to move once there. They ended up just wailing on the attacker with fists, biting and head butting because that’s all they could do.

Again, I am not bad mouthing BJJ at all. I am bad mouthing those who are telling students that BJJ is all the self defense they need for real world violence. I believe BJJ is a great PART of a total self defense system. Now, instead of name calling and talking about my dear mama in the comment section how about we have a discussion we can all learn from where the above points are refuted? BE SAFE!

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7 Comments

  1. As a BJJ black belt and Krav Maga practitioner, I agree with about 90% of the article. Likewise, practicing Krav Maga by itself or any other style without cross training is crazy.

    • If the end goal is self defense I would have to disagree with you. Krav has taken the best of about everything, including BJJ, to make a system…it is cross training. Krav Maga has ground, weapons defenses, fighting, cheating, running and the philosophy of “do what it takes to be safe”. What cross training would be beneficial? Thanks for the input!

      • I agree with about 90% of the article as well. Unfortunately there’s no complete martial art which is why in addition to my jiu jitsu passion, I also train wrestling, judo, boxing, and muay thai.
        In regards to the statement “Krav has taken the best of about everything, including BJJ…” – BULLSHIT. I know high level krav instructors that couldn’t escape a simple mount until attending my class. The Krav ground techniques that I’ve witnessed are watered down at best. Krav is no more a complete self defense system than jiu jitsu. Life is short, cross training – Experience everything and have fun doing it!

      • Bullshit? Have you met me or studied the USKMA krav system? We don’t teach a martial art at all, we teach a self defense system that includes BJJ, wrestling, judo, boxing, and muay thai. You met a high level krav instructor that didn’t have an escape from the mount? This is suspect. Squeezing the person in mount’s nuts and when they bend over grab their hair with one hand and jab a thumb into their eye socket doesn’t take much thought or practice. I really must point out the folly of your statement “Krav is no more a complete self defense system than jiu jitsu.” You did read the article didn’t you? Can you refute any of the points or do you just make statements like this? Learning how to deal with multiple attackers, having stick, long gun, handgun and knife defenses, relying on a philosophy instead of techniques that will degrade under stress and adrenalin, and putting everything we do under exhaustion, stress and realism would seem to refute that statement my friend. Being proud of what you teach is commendable, having a closed mind isn’t.

  2. Yes, I think that stating “Krav has taken the best of about everything, including BJJ…” is indeed bullshit. My point wasn’t that BJJ is a complete fighting system, because it isn’t. I don’t believe that there is any one martial art that is a complete fighting system including krav even when you label it differently as a “self defense”. The point of my original comment regarding is that the best part of jiu jitsu is not represented within krav. I have a very open mind about all martial arts and feel that each one has it’s merits for manifold reasons. In my limited experience in witnessing krav ground techniques I’ve found them to be significantly less effective than the fundamentals taught in jiu jitsu.
    I said, “couldn’t escape a simple mount” not “didn’t have an escape from the mount…” There was an idea but the technique was severely watered down and not effective.
    You claim that an effective escape from mount is “Squeezing the person in mount’s nuts and when they bend over grab their hair with one hand and jab a thumb into their eye socket doesn’t take much thought or practice.”
    Seriously, that’s what’s coming to, right?! The nut shots, hair grab, and/or eye pokes aren’t 100% effective means of defense. I’ve had both (I’m bald, so no hair grabs) done to me in a fight and within sparring and continued without a hiccup. Alternatively I’ve seen guys drop from being grazed in the nuts or corner of the eye. Therefore these techniques may or may not work in a real life threatening situation. However, I do know for a fact that attackers fall asleep within 3-5 seconds of collapsing both arteries. That technique works 100% of the time, period.
    Truly I didn’t get on here to debate which martial art was superior, because I don’t believe it’s right to cast judgement. To each his own. However I’m pretty confident that if you use your previously described method to escape the mount against your bjj black belt friend, he’d put you to sleep, break your arm, or both.

    • Thanks for the discussion my friend. Of course, I’m old so I would cheat. I know he’s coming in to grapple without strikes to put me in that rear naked. My bjj black belt friend would be bringing his ground techniques to a knife (ball bat or gun) fight my friend. Those are pretty close to 100% effective as well.

  3. Great discussion topic but what I think needs to be understood us that Krav Maga is a survival mentality. No rules in Krav Maga sums it up perfectly. The cool thing with Krav Maga is that it is ever evolving. I don’t think any of us think we have a fail proof system, but what we do have is a desire to survive any way possible. I am a Krav Maga instructor with a different association as well as being a combat vet and former bouncer. I will be the first to tell you that the rear naked choke has served me well many times in the bar. Quite honestly I didn’t care where I learned it as long as it worked. I did in fact learn it in Japanese Jujitsu originally but was taught it again in a Krav DT/LE course. Krav simply takes techniques from various sources and apples them in the most direct and violent way possible. Again Krav is more of a mentality than a set of techniques. Be safe.

    Sam


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