Is BJJ Overrated? The Truth About The Effectiveness Of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu


Is BJJ overrated?

Of all the martial arts in the world, BJJ is certainly becoming one of the most popular choices. We have all heard about how effective it is for self-defense and MMA. Not only that, but many have even said that it has helped them overcome mental barriers as well. Today many celebrities are even jumping on the BJJ fan wagon. But is it really as great as everyone says? Is BJJ overrated?

All in all, I do not think that BJJ is overrated. In fact, I believe it is one of the if not the single most effective martial arts in the world. Of course, in certain situations such as MMA, you will likely want to learn other martial arts alongside BJJ. 

Of course, it is truly difficult to say whether or not BJJ is overrated. This is simply because it depends on the situation and the box someone puts it in. It is a question that is asked quite often in the martial arts and grappling world. However, what does it really even mean? Is it overrated compared to what exactly?

I’m sure there are people in this world that put BJJ on such a high pedestal that it is almost impossible to live up to. You always hear things such as BJJ is an art where a small guy can defeat a large guy in a confrontation. Of course, there is some truth to that statement but it does have its limits. BJJ is an amazing martial art but we still need to be realistic about things.

BJJ Is Not Overrated But You Do Need To Have Realistic Expectations

I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news but if you are 4’9 and 85 lbs you probably should not go pick a fight with a 4oo lbs powerlifter even if you have BJJ black belt around your waist. Yes BJJ is a fantastic martial art and no it is not overrated but you do need to be realistic.

In the past, people looked to many martial arts expecting to get unrealistic and almost supernatural powers. Actually, who am I kidding this is honestly something that is still present today. Though MMA and many other combat martial arts have exposed many of these con artists.

Of course, I am not saying that all other arts fall into these categories. There are certainly amazing martial arts such as judo, karate, Muay Thai, and many many more. But what I am saying is that there was a weird mysticism associated with many martial arts that need to be exposed.

How BJJ Helped to Expose Some Less Efficient Martial Arts

Recently I had someone tell me that the UFC would not let their master fight because one if his punches would surely kill the other fighters. This was only a few years ago and shows that we still have a problem today. There are even martial arts that claim they can defeat opponents without even touching them by only using their chi energy.

There are also so martial arts that have some effective techniques but simply need to upgrade their system to be more effective in the world today. Some martial arts also hold onto less effective methods simply to keep to their traditions.

One of the martial arts that exposed some of the less effective martial arts is Brazilain jiu-jitsu. In fact, the Gracies used to hold challenges for other martial artists to come and challenge them in a Vale Tudo match. They called it the Gracie challenge. Vale Tudo is a combat sport similar to MMA but with even fewer rules.

In fact, Gracies who started BJJ were heavily involved in the start of the UFC. They wanted to prove that BJJ was the most effective martial art in the world. Because of the success of BJJ in the UFC, we know that is an effective martial art.

That said, though we should have confidence in our art, we should not create our own version of mysticism for BJJ. So yes BJJ is effective and it is not overrated but we need to keep it in a realistic light.

Is BJJ Overrated For MMA?

Ok, so we have already established that the Gracie family proved that BJJ was effective in the early UFCs. But what about today almost 30 years later? Is BJJ overrated in MMA today? Well, I don’t think you could say that many people who only train in BJJ are doing too hot in the UFC in today’s age.

That said, MMA has evolved as all things do. You can’t really walk into the octagon with an understanding of one discipline and expect to be a UFC champion. That said, BJJ is still a very effective martial art to learn for MMA. Of course, today you probably see more top-level fighters coming from a wrestling background than a BJJ background.

One thing you need to realize about that is these wrestlers still need to learn quite a bit of BJJ for their wrestling to be effective against BJJ fighters. Or they at least need to learn how to defend against the BJJ fighter. That said, if a wrestler can learn some BJJ submissions to go along with the great control and takedowns from wrestling they will be a more well-rounded fighter.

But if a wrestler with no experience outside of wrestling wanted to go against a BJJ practitioner they would likely find themselves in a submission fairly quickly. That being said, BJJ is such an established martial art in MMA that you have to learn at least some BJJ to be effective in MMA.

Making The Transition

Of course, most people will get started in one martial art before getting into MMA, but they all have to evolve and become more well-rounded if they want to make it today. There are not people making it to high levels in MMA today with BJJ alone. But this goes for the other martial arts as well.

You don’t see wrestlers only using wrestling in MMA or boxers only using boxing either. In MMA today you have to be at least somewhat well rounded to make it in the high levels of competition. This does not mean that BJJ cannot be your base martial art. There are some amazing fighters who have their base in BJJ. That said, you will still need to learn a few things from some of the other martial arts.

For BJJ fighters one of the main things you will need to go along with your jiu-jitsu is some striking. This could be through boxing and Muay Thai or even through some other striking arts. In addition, a BJJ fighter will likely need to expand into some new areas of grappling. BJJ already is the king of submissions, but you will likely need to improve your takedowns. So learning some wrestling and judo techniques can really help improve your game.

To be 100 percent honest I think it is silly to limit yourself to learning through one discipline in today’s world. This goes for MMA or even just grappling. As Bruce Lee said, absorb what is useful, reject what is useless, add what is essentially your own.

If you are interested in learning more about BJJ for MMA check out my article: Is BJJ still effective in MMA? 

Is BJJ Overrated For Self-Defense?

Another area where BJJ gets a lot of attention is its effectiveness in self-defense. Many people claim that it is the single best martial art ever created for self-defense. On the other hand, you will hear people say that it is useless because it does not work against multiple attackers. Though both of these statements cannot be true at the same time, you could say there is some truth to both.

In my opinion, BJJ is the best form of self-defense against one opponent. That is at least if it is under certain criteria. The first one being that we are only talking about martial arts that are empty-handed, meaning you do not have the use of a weapon. The second is that you are going to a BJJ school that focuses on self-defense.

When BJJ first started out just about every school had a major focus on self-defense. After all, the Gracies considered the heart of  BJJ to be a martial art and self-defense system. The sport of BJJ would be a secondary priority. However, the sport of BJJ and no-gi grappling has gotten so popular that many schools have shifted all or most of their focus to sport BJJ.

That said, BJJ is not overrated for self-defense. However, if self-defense is your focus, then you want to go to an academy that makes self-defense a priority. I’m not saying that a sport BJJ champion would not have the upper hand in a street fight, but self-defense is not the focus of some BJJ academies today.

Schools run by some of the Gracies practice what they call Gracie Jiu-Jitsu or GJJ. These schools still put a lot of focus on self-defense. 

Is Sport BJJ Useful For Self-defense

You will likely learn much more about self-defense in one year at an academy that focuses on it than multiple years at an academy that only focuses on competition. However, the truth of the matter is that any combat athlete is likely more prepared for a confrontation than your average Joe.

That said, a competitive BJJ player simply needs to understand what they do in a competition that would not be wise in a self-defense situation. However, I think it would be good for everyone to at least learn the basics of the BJJ self-defense system. Even if you only care about competing or MMA.

That said, sport BJJ is still very important in my opinion. I think it is necessary for the evolution of BJJ. After all, because of sport BJJ people continue to learn new techniques and even adopt some from other martial arts.

Lastly, I think it is important for everyone who is able to compete. In a real-life self-defense situation, you are going to be in fight or flight mode. Only going to classes to learn self-defense will not prepare you to fight under those circumstances. Though competition is not the same as a real-life confrontation, it is about as close as you can get without getting into a real fight.

That said, both sport and tradition BJJ have their place of importance in the BJJ community.

BJJ Against Multiple Attackers

One criticism from many people about BJJ is its effectiveness against multiple attackers. I understand their point and there is some truth to it. After all, you probably do not want to bring someone to the ground to choke them out if they have friends standing by. It sounds like a good way to get kicked in the face.

That being said, there really is no perfect martial art to use against multiple attackers. After all, at some point, you will be outmatched no matter what Hollywood might have you believe. People are not going to stand back and attack you one at a time like they do in the movies.

That said, if you are interested in self-defense then you probably want to mix in a striking art such as boxing to supplement your BJJ training. You might even want to learn some devastating takedowns and throws from arts like judo and wrestling.

That said, you cannot be prepared for every situation all the time. But you do have to start somewhere and to me learning to deal with one person first is a good place to start. Then once you have a basic grasp of that self-defense system you should supplement your training with something else.

I could go on and on about BJJ for self-defense but that is not the point of this article. If you are interested in this topic then I would suggest you read our article: Is Brazilian jiu-jitsu good for self-defense?

 In Conclusion

No BJJ is not overrated in my opinion. However, we do not want to put it on such a high pedestal that no martial art can live up to. After all, BJJ was one of the martial arts that exposed some of the mysticism in the martial art community. So let’s not turn around and do the same thing to BJJ.

BJJ is also in my opinion not overrated in MMA either. That said, the sport has evolved over the last few decades and fighters need to be more well-rounded these days. That does not mean you should not have your base in BJJ. But what it does mean is you do need to be proficient in striking and wrestling as well.

When it comes to self-defense I still believe that BJJ is one of the best martial arts you can do. Of course, you will want to go to an academy that emphasizes self-defense. Though it might not be perfect for every situation, no other martial art is either. The best thing you can do is to learn the best self-defense techniques from every martial art. All you can do is be prepared for as many situations as possible.

But in my opinion, BJJ is one of the greatest martial arts you can learn.  It is a fantastic place to start your martial arts journey no matter what your goals are. So if you have been thinking about joining a gym don’t wait any longer. Get out there and start training.

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