Does BJJ Work in the Street • Martial Arts Journey

Does BJJ Work in the Street I personally fell in love with BJJ very quickly. I can easily see why the hype exists up to this day, of people loving it so much, that quite a few announce it as the best martial art in the world. After all, Royce Gracie won the first UFC championship mainly relying on his Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and BJJ is a key component in UFC and MMA up to this day. I personally experienced as well, how powerful BJJ is when rolling with a more experienced practitioner. Martial artists who trained without pressure testing and sparring, even for years, can only compare their techniques mainly on a theoretical level, in a never ending debate.

In BJJ, if you are not as good as your rolling partner – you will see that as bright as day very quickly, by being submitted multiple times. The effectiveness of its techniques and training methods are undeniable in its own realm.

Yet the question is, is it as good for self defense as it is in combat sports? Having personally practiced one of the least effective martial arts for more than a decade without questioning it enough, believing that it is effective for self defense, when I woke up to the truth, I decided I will not want to fall into the same hole twice, and that before I devote myself to another practice, I will first thoroughly question it. And what better way is to do that, than to find answer by relying on the best experts of their fields.

Hi, my name is Rokas and in this Martial Arts Journey video, I will share what I discovered with the help of self defense and BJJ experts on whether BJJ works in the street.

The question first came to me when I started realizing that martial arts and self defense are two separate worlds. I still had a lurking question on where combat sports are found in between this scale, yet first of all I decided to find the gap between the former two. To find this answer, I interviewed Bruno Orozco, a self defense expert with years of experience based in Mexico, who also has foundation in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. During our talk Jiu Jitsu naturally came into our conversation.

Bruno said: “A lot of brazilian jiu jitsu practitioners say it’s the best martial art in the world. Let’s say it’s the best martial art in the world. Well, self defense and the best martial art is not the same. For example, if I grab a knife and I know how to use it and I attack a brazilian jiu jitsu guy, I kill him.”.

To me that sounded like a fair point.

The Brazilian Jiu Jitsu that I’ve been exposed to did not teach knife defense. Personally, during my BJJ training I even haven’t been introduced to defending against strikes. At that moment, having a desire to become adapt in self defense, BJJ was my first pick. The talk with Bruno made me question my decision.

Yet relying only on one source for information will rarely reveal the whole truth about a subject. Luckily, my next talk was with a martial arts and BJJ legend Matt Thornton. For those who do not know Matt, he is one of the first american born BJJ practitioners to receive a black belt in this practice. He is also famous for formulating the term of “aliveness” – referring to importance of pressure testing, live drilling, and lack of it in various martial arts. Talking to Matt I knew that he will have deeply considered this question.

When I eventually asked the question of whether BJJ is enough for self defense, Matt replied: “The street vs sports debate is something I consider to be a fallacy. The same delivery system transcend over. It’s the same material and the same training method.

[If someone focuses on competition] they are always working on jiu jitsu vs jiu jitsu. Let’s just say for the sake of argument, if while they are doing that, they never put the strikes in and all of a sudden they wind up in a fight and they might potentially put their body and their head in a position where they can take punches because they’re thinking more about tournament situation as opposed to an MMA situation.

Having said all that, because of what we do in SBG is we focus more on the fundamentals, what we teach tends to transcend these different environments, because there’s very little change that has to be made.”. My talk with Matt Thornton was one of the best interviews I’ve done up to date. I gravitated to believe him strongly and it did make sense what he said. Yet now I was left with two opposing opinions from two experts whom I both respect and believe in, and I found myself believing both answers at the same time, even when they appeared conflicting.

Having come to this dilemma, I decided I need a third opinion.

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During my talk with Matt, he mentioned one of his coaches: Paul Sharp, a BJJ black who is also a widely known self defense expert with years of experience as a police officer. Now who could have a better answer to this question, than someone who had to apply his knowledge and skill on repeated and potentially life threatening basis? Soon enough, with Matt’s help, I was able to reach Paul. This time one of my main focus points was to figure out the difference and gap between martial arts, combat sports and self defense.

When I asked Paul Sharp this question directly, he answered: “I see that a lot, and I see both sides, cause I have friends who can articulate both sides of the argument.”.

This was a very interesting moment for me already which was leading to my final answer. Being able to see both sides and picking the truth from each one of them. Paul continued: “I fall more in the camp of – if you have a very deep fighting sports background, then it’s probably easier to tweak you a little bit, to make you very dangerous in the street.

We run these courses where we have guys from all backgrounds: military, police, non-military… And overwhelmingly the guys who excel, are guys who have some kind of combat sports background, because we can tweak them a little bit. We will have two on one, or three on one, and overwhelmingly the guys that do well are the guys who have a solid background in some sort of combat sports.” Now having this answer, I’ve started to realize that maybe I do not have to choose single camp and that maybe both sides are true. That there may be a gap between brazilian jiu jitsu and self defense, yet the question was: how big that gap is? It turns out, both Bruno Orozco and Matt Thornton already answered most of this question.

In my first interview with Matt, he said: “The only piece that is missing [in BJJ], is everything before the fight, and that’s a process of education – things like being aware of your environment, knowing where to go and where not to go, understanding how violent criminal actors will come up and interview you, all that kind of stuff.”. Bruno Orozco spoke similar, saying: “Self defense is a different area. It’s about security, strategics, habits. It’s a very wide area.

”. It seemed that both experts addressed that there is something that is missing in BJJ training for self defense, yet that wasn’t primarily based in the technical realm, yet something which surpasses it. Something that can be called: personal safety. I feel it is important to mention that we live in the safest times in history. In many places of the world, the chances of being attacked are becoming increasingly low.

This does not mean that we should not learn self defense, but learning self defense by training martial arts should probably not be the main reason for doing so.

Often times avoiding danger and knowing how to do that, may be the best self defense in itself, and if we are smart and aware enough, we may never need to defend at all. As Bruno Orozco said: “Training martial arts is a great basis, because it teaches you a way of life and if you have a way of life, you are going to be a healthy person emotionally, mentally and physically, and this attracts less problems. A person who has no control on his own emotions, of his impulses and does not have personal discipline, a person like this attracts problems, and that is not good self defense.” Maybe the question whether BJJ works in the street is not the most important one.

A way of life, control of emotions and impulses, personal discipline – Brazilian Jiu Jitsu trains all of these things and that is something that makes it already a great asset for personal safety.

Does BJJ work in the street? I think the answer lies somewhere in the middle, like most good answers do. Will a person who trains brazilian jiu jitsu have an advantage in a street fight or self defense situation over an untrained person? Personally, I think he will have a huge advantage.

He will also be probably much more ripe to add the extra curriculum that is important for self defense specifically. Yet if one is very serious about personal safety and self defense, one should not expect

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