The world has exploded into a frenzy of BJJ support after the above video emerged showing a BJJ Purple belt using his grappling skills when he was attacked after a dispute on a basketball court (see video in this post). Now when videos emerge like this one I usually think they are fake but Ive had a look and to be honest it looks genuine. And with it I think it would be great to review the use of BJJ as a system of self defence.
A lot of people dont know this but I actually got into Judo because I was looking for Gracie or Brazilian Jiu Jitsu classes and I couldnt find any near me. However there was a local Judo school so I thought that would be a great alternative.
I had grown up watching the UFC and having spent my childhood boxing I wanted to learn to grapple. Watching Royce Gracie dominate opponent after opponent on the ground inspired me to think 'hey there is something in this grappling stuff after all'.
It was some years later that I actually trained BJJ but to be honest by that time I actually preferred the stand up aspect of Judo. I still find that Judo to be a more enjoyable activity as I like the sensation of throwing, and I have never been a huge newaza exponent.
As a person who actually trains in a variety of self defence systems I have always considered BJJ to be useful but only very small part of the equation of self defence. In many ways I always said "BJJ is great in one on one fights" however just how rare are one on one situations?
As I have developed my own knowledge base I realise that my initial view points may actually be flawed
In my own experience one on one situations are actual a major part of violence. There seems to be a huge over estimation that every fight involves groups, when to be honest that is simply not the case.
The assumption that crime is a group situation needs to be addressed because the fact is simple. You are just as likely to be involved attacked by a single person as you are a group! You need to have the skills to deal with both situations.
Now BJJ many years ago was mostly wrestling takedowns and groundwork but a new and more fresh form of BJJ is starting to surface and this is due to the ever increasing mix of Judo players and other martial artists seeking out BJJ as an activity. This exciting cross training mentality has of course provided martial artists with the ability to cross train and we are seeing many BJJ clubs employing full time Judo coaches.
So we start to see the evolution of BJJ and for many this really started to happen in London at the Budokwai ( a top and prestigious club in London) when BJJ classes were held in the building and top Judoka trained with Roger Gracie (BJJ multi world champion) and in turn he went to Judo classes. This multi discipline approach has lead to better grapplers, this fact cannot be denied.
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Unlike a lot of martial artists my mind is not fixed, I can and often do change my opinions based on new and emerging data. To be honest I have always been against BJJ and Judo being a part of the same stable, however with the overwhelming evidence out there I can honestly say my opinion has certainly changed and with it a change in both sports needs to happen where we see some sort mutually beneficial arrangement. Although it is beyond the scope of this article it seems sensible for Judo and BJJ clubs to share venues to split the costs of rent.
Any way I have gone off point, the issue here as I was saying is that BJJ is not the same as it was, we now see BJJ players possessing very high levels of standing grappling and with that comes the improvement of BJJ as a self defence system.
In the video in the post we saw a total ground fight and it was a master class as such. The BJJ player looked to be outweighed by his opponent who seemed to have some decent strikes and also was physically strong. So to go strike for strike with this opponent could have been potentially very difficult for him, instead as the person charged he went to the ground in an almost voluntary manner.
From that point it was pretty much a grappling masterclass as he went from submission move to submission move until he finally ended up in a heel hook position and reasoned with the opponent who we assume gave up and the fight pretty much ended (we dont know as the video stops).
Now the web has been alive with the usual comments of "he survived because others didnt get involved" or "he would have been kicked in the head". All valid comments but the simple truth was that he wasnt! The friends didnt attack him nor did he get kicked in the head. The what ifs could go on forever and include
- He could have a knife
- He could have a gun
- He could have got his friends to help
- He could .................
However none of those things actually happened. What did happen though was that one person was attacked and the other person controlled the attacker and even got into a position where he could reason with him. Lets break this down:
In the above shot we see the start of the fight, if you watch the video the black male lowers his stance and plyometrically loads his body up. Yes it wasnt discreet and by that point you know the strike was coming, but you get the general view that the man has some form of experience. If you look at his feet he is a classic boxers stance and throws a looping overhand strike which is quite powerful. We do get to see a classic flinch reaction from the BJJ player, his hands go up and he actually blocks the strike taking the sting out of it.
After the 2 bodies collide the BJJ player almost yields and pulls guard and within seconds he slides his hips out and gains the rear naked choke position
The rear naked choke is perhaps the most deadly of all techniques because once it is set in you need to be very precise on how long you hold it for otherwise the opponent could die. In this video two things occur, the BJJ fighter lets go and starts striking and we see some small interference by friends pulling at the fingers of the BJJ guy. Its almost as if people seem to think "hey that's not right, you could really hurt him" but they still fail to actually break the fight up.
I have no idea if the BJJ thought ' oh shit I could kill this guy' when he got the back and actually decided to let go of the choke or the friends interfering actually made him lose his grip but it does bring into close examination of the lethality of the rear naked choke.
However I like to think that the BJJ player realised that he really just wanted to control his opponent and we see evidence if this later on.
After the BJJ player loses his grip we start to see some rubber guard on display here, and he soon starts to shift his weight into arm bar position. You see here that the BJJ player keeps control of the head of the attacker and is destroying the attackers posture who now has no available offensive techniques at his disposal, he is thinking "I need to get up"
The BJJ guy goes into arm bar position, and this gave his stronger attacker the chances to 'spike' or slam the BJJ guy onto the floor. I have to say this looks painful to watch. This could have easily resulted in brain injury to the BJJ player and serious neck injury but its enough for the BJJ player to let go of the arm lock and shows the strength of the attacker.
The BJJ player shows his skills once again after he lets go of his armbar and tucks under and sweeps his opponent using his legs. Its a great move and really works as his opponent goes to the floor.
Once on the floor the BJJ player gets the ankle as we can see here and is in perfect position to destroy the ankle and the knee of the opponent. The heel hook looks inverted and this would have caused massive and immediate pain and damage if the BJJ player had used any force but he appears to have reasoned with the attacker.
I do wonder if this was a set up but Ill put my hands up and say I think it was real. It just has the hall marks of a real fight between people who either know each other or are even some form of friends.
The BJJ player seems a really nice guy and actually does his up most to be nice as he could have ended the fight in seconds but his lack of finishing could have resulted in his own serious injury!
Its clear that BJJ has areas where it has weaknesses, by the very nature of the system it is based on techniques which destroy limbs or incapacitate a person due to strikes or chokes. If you then choose not to use the chokes it reduces your arsenal of techniques by quite some amount.
Could the BJJ guy have done this on the street and not on a basketball court? I think all of the techniques on display could have been used anywhere and yes he was vulnerable to third party involvement (ie a friend getting involved) but what exactly was he supposed to do?
When faced with a stronger opponent the BJJ player used his techniques to control and even reason with his attacker and he got out with little or no injury in an incident that could have turned far worse.
So in conclusion I feel that this video is ample proof that BJJ is actually a very worthy and acceptable self defence system. I see it has very good use for both men and especially females.
However I do maintain my view that the system is totally reliant on one on one attacks and with that it a person looking for a truly well rounded system of self defence needs to look elsewhere or even cross train and I suggest you look at Defence Lab for that aspect of your training.
The skill the BJJ player used here was not gained overnight. He ha spent years training and dont expect to be that good after one month. Like all things BJJ takes ages to learn but with that you will make friends and get fit.
I personally would not rate BJJ as the number one self defence system in the world (I really dont think there is a number 1, but there are several very good systems) but I have to say it is possibly among the best and I would say that BJJ is now among the best forms of self defence in the world. Anyone studying it can add some cross training in a few other disciplines and they would have a very solid platform of self defence skills, as I said BJJ itself is evolving and this video is a great example of this.
I titled this article and said that BJJ just became the number one self defence system in the world and I have done this because unlike many other systems BJJ now has a real self defence video that shows its skills being used for real. This sets it light years above many of its competitors and the viral nature of the video shows just how powerful a message this is. In that way and due the the viral nature of this Video BJJ has become the number 1 self defence system in the world, but as said I do feel you need to have a method of self defence that works in tandem with this. For that purpose I recommend training in Defence Lab however I have to agree that on one on one fights BJJ has once again shown itself to be king of not only MMA but self defence!
Until next time