Realistic Training Tips for BJJ and Self-defence

A lot of people ask me about the differences between the training methods of Sport Brazilian Jiu-jitsu and those of authentic, more complete and street self-defense orientated, Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. Therefore, I am going to begin a series of posts that will explore topics such as self-defense specific training drills of a kind that are going to be absent from most sport based curriculum.  I think this is important for a number of reasons but one of my primary reasons is simply to help better inform the public so that they can know the differences and can make better choices as consumers and people with self defense needs. Moreover, if you are already training in Brazilian jiu-jitsu for primarily self-defense reasons then it will help to know how to get the most out of your usually limited training time.

I have heard from various people, who have attended sport Brazilian jiu-jitsu schools or bring their kids to one, that when they asked the instructor about specific self-defense training they were told something along the lines of, “it’s all the same”.  I think making statements like that is being disingenuous to the public and irresponsible.  Furthermore, I also personally know of another well known “Brazilian jiu-jitsu expert” who when asked about no-Gi training did not hesitate to tell people that it too was “all the same stuff” in comparison to his exclusively Gi based training.  In this later guy’s case I know very well that he literally did not know what a “whizzer” or an “under-hook” was (standard no-Gi  grips and controls)  never mind how to use or defend against them properly. This all too common rubbish of course is a sure sign of the o’l martial arts pseudo-professional.

By way of analogy, can you imagine a lawyer telling the public that there was no difference between criminal law and civil law? Now there may be plenty of laypeople out there who are not well educated or experienced in legal matters and who may reasonably be confused by or even unaware of the important differences between criminal law and civil law. In such cases it is the lawyer’s, in other words, the professional’s critical responsibility to explain the differences to the uninformed layperson and not try to exploit people’s ignorance for their own egos or financial gain. In the real world there can be pretty serious consequences for showing up at your murder trial with a lawyer who thinks, or wants you to believe, that litigating with your car insurance provider is the same as being able to stop the state from giving you the death sentence.

So lets be clear and unequivocal, of course there are major differences between  the subcategories found in the Brazilian Jiu-jitsu world. As I wrote about in my post “Not All Brazilian Jiu-jitsu is Created Equal” , there are at least three major branches of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. Sport Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, BJJ for mixed Martial Arts fighting and self-defense Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. Yes there are plenty of similarities but there are also lots of differences because each branch is training for specific things and using the best techniques and strategies to reach their goals. Unfortunately, when it comes to sport BJJ these goals are often to get you to pay some instructor so he can get his work out in for his next tournament. Hence, if you are not into going to some meaningless tournament in order to make the instructor look good or to get an ego fix you may not be much use to these sport based pseudo professionals-well except to pay their rent.  Therefore, anyone telling you that all these branches of Brazilian jiu-jitsu are all the same is either lying to you or too stupid and self-absorbed to know the difference. From a professional perspective I’m not sure which is worse.

Therefore, the first realistic training tip should be pretty obvious but because of the pseudo experts and their disingenuous agendas this can get obscured. This “tip” is simply making sure you are doing skill specific training. In other words, if you want to be able to prevent some street punk from smashing you in the head with a hay-maker punch you need to train specifically for that scenario. The same goes for a kick to the groin or a stomp to your head while you are on the ground. I honestly do not know how people are being sold on the idea that laying on the ground and doing endless things like sport half-guard is supposed to prepare you for these very common self-defense situations. Unfortunately there does seem to be a kind of “osmosis” training mentality, where people must think that if they achieve this belt or that belt they will be suddenly and spontaneously qualified  to make authoritative pronouncements and be experts on things they have never done. This is one of the defining characteristics of the Pseudo professional. A true professional knows that it is his responsibility and duty to find out what he does not know.

If you want to be proficient at shutting down that street punk’s punch then you need to train specifically to shut down that street punk’s punch. Stopping someone from kicking your head like a soccer ball while you are on the ground and maybe busting it open like a watermelon is a definite kind of skill.  And I personally think a very important one since I have been in situations like that. You will not acquire that skill unless you specifically train for it. Pretty simple idea I know but when you have all these so called experts telling you what they do is the same it can become quite confusing.

It was because Brazilian jiu-jitsu had well thought out and proven solutions for these situations, that were just as much a part of the system as rolling on the ground and guard passing that I worked so hard to introduce Brazilian jiu-jitsu to my  home country.  Therefore, the first idea is training specifically for self defense situations of which the “traditional” Brazilian jiu-jitsu  has a complete and proven curriculum. If you are not being trained this way you need to find out why and unfortunately the answer will be most often that the instructor does not know and does not want to know this kind of non-sport methodology.

This leads us to another defining characteristic of the pseudo professional, which is the inability to admit there is something about BJJ that they don’t know. That would hurt their little “I’m the badist man on the mats” ego fantasy which to a pseudo professional is far, far more important than your self defense needs. They will instead try to convince you that its all the same or that you don’t need that stuff or its no good or does not work or whatever other rationalization they use to deceive themselves and/or the public. Remember from my post “The Anti-Martial Arts Master”, it is this ego based rationalization that if taken too far turns the pseudo-professional into a blatant phony regardless of his athletic skill or how many tournaments he has won. Misleading the public is misleading the public. Next time ill get into more training specifics but for now lets start with training directly for the results you want and need and not for someone else’s ego fantasy.