There is a big dichotomy in the field of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. On one hand – there are the sport BJJ specific techniques. On the other side, there are self-defense techniques. And there is potentially a big difference between the two. You will definitely want to learn about the distinctions between these two categories. It will help you achieve a deeper understanding of what BJJ is all about.
Sport BJJ vs Self Defense Jiu-Jitsu
The sport BJJ offers a set of techniques that are directly applicable in competition forms. And there are many different techniques that are sport specific. A simple example would be the 50/50 guard. Ryan Hall is one of the pioneers that made huge contributions to developing the 50/50 guard. There are loads of attacking moves that you can execute from there. If you know the 50/50 guard, then you will be able to unleash hell on your opponents in BJJ competitions.
But is this really applicable in a real fight? Well, it can be – but it’s not as applicable as it is for competition. The fact is that you can still enter 50/50 in a street fight and rip your opponent’s entire leg from the socket. But still, you would need some space in order to maneuver. And here’s the trick – your opponent will not be disinclined to punch you in the face. After all, this is a street fight. He can give you a direct hit – which will not be as powerful as a straight punch from a standing position – but it will still hurt and can do damage. To that end, we would say that 50/50 is not highly applicable to street fights but is much more applicable in competitions.
Also, BJJ sports competitions that feature Gi use have many Gi specific techniques. Do you know what would happen if you try a cross collar choke on a person that wears a t-shirt on the street? Nothing, except for the fact that you will rip his t-shirt apart and he will be unharmed. To that end, you need to be very careful when learning Gi-specific techniques for self-defense. This is not to say that they will be ineffective at all times. After all, sometimes your opponent on the street will wear clothes with harder materials that won’t snap as easily under pressure. To that end, you can apply many of the Gi specific BJJ techniques. In all cases, we suggest that you give precedence to the BJJ no-Gi techniques if you plan on using BJJ for self-defense.
Self Defense Jiu-Jitsu
At the first and foremost, the fact of the matter is that Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a martial art. And this means that there are many techniques that you can apply in a real fight, aside from the sports mats. We again have to repeat the notion that no-GI takes precedence here as, in this way, the success of your BJJ self-defense techniques won’t depend on the material quality of your opponent’s clothes.
That aside, there are many BJJ techniques that purport to teach you how to defend yourself from weapons – including knives and even guns. We’re not saying that these techniques can’t ever be effective in protecting yourself from harm against people with weapons. However, we do advise you to be extremely cautious around using them. No matter what the demonstrators will say about the immense effectiveness of the techniques – we still suggest that you be very cautious. Our opinion is that the least skilled, weakest person in the world is better off than the best martial artist in the world – if the former is wielding a knife. It’s not easy at all to deal with an opponent holding a knife. Despite the fact that some BJJ instructors will teach you some techniques about knife-defense – take these with a grain of salt.
To be fair, there are many BJJ techniques that may be very useful in a street fight. The rear naked choke, the armbar, the triangle, the leg lock – all of these basic BJJ techniques can work with devastating effectiveness. But we advise you to be careful. With using BJJ techniques if dealing with multiple opponents. And it’s logical why we say this – you do a perfect double leg takedown, put your opponent down, get into side-control, then get to mount – and as you start to move in the direction for doing an armbar, the second opponent comes to your side and does a soccer kick on your face. As you can see, BJJ is very effective when dealing with a single opponent – but it will be less effective if you’re dealing with multiple opponents at the same time.
There are notable differences between Sport BJJ and Self Defense Jiu-Jitsu. But some people really overinflate these differences. The fact is that the core of BJJ consists of many different techniques that are effective in different scenarios. What you need to focus on is finding solid instructors and training partners first and foremost – and then choose to specialize in either aspect of BJJ.