Why Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Is Great For Self Defense

Is Brazilian jiu-jitsu good for self-defense?

BJJ is very effective for self-defense. I would even say that BJJ is the most effective martial art for self-defense if you find the right academy. However, some BJJ academies focus on sport jiu-jitsu and neglect self-defense training.

BJJ is a great place to start if you want to learn self-defense. Of course, there are pros and cons to choosing BJJ for self-defense. We will discuss some of the cons later in the post but for now, let’s look at why BJJ is great for self-defense.

BJJ Was Founded On Self Defense Principles

Though most people know of BJJ through MMA, it was originally taught for self-defense. Historically, BJJ evolved from Judo. However, Helio Gracie modified the art to be more effective for someone without as much size or strength. 

Helio Gracie was not as big as some of his other family members were. Because of this, he put much more focus on how to master the art of leverage. That way a much smaller person who understood leverage could defeat a stronger opponent who only utilized strength.

For this reason, BJJ is an excellent choice for self-defense for many people who are not naturally big and strong. This is exactly why I believe it is great for women should learn the basics of self-defense jiu-jitsu.

Find A BJJ School That Has A Self-Defense Program

A good self-defense jiu-jitsu school should teach you more than simply how to choke someone out. They should also teach the basics of situational awareness and training on how to de-escalate a situation.

Of course, this is not always possible. That said, the best form of self-defense is to avoid a hostile situation if it is possible.

The problem with some self-defense martial arts is that they might give people too much confidence to deal with a situation. In turn, they might choose to fight instead of avoiding a bad situation that could have been prevented.

It is important to realize that even though BJJ is effective, dealing with a much larger and stronger opponent is still very dangerous. Getting into a fight with anyone has risks that are better to avoid if you can.

Some BJJ Schools No Longer Focus On Self-Defense

One thing I want to talk about in a little more detail is the difference between traditional BJJ and sport BJJ. At one time practically all BJJ schools put a major focus on self-defense.

However, as the sport of BJJ has become more popular, some schools have shifted their focus on competition BJJ. So you might join a jiu-jitsu academy that does not have a self-defense program at all. 

Many jiu-jitsu academies have shifted their focus away from traditional self-defense BJJ to focus more or completely on the sport of BJJ. This is something that has happened to many martial arts around the world.

That said if self-defense is important to you, then make sure you pick a BJJ school that focuses on self-defense. If you find a school that is considered Gracie Jiu-Jitsu this is a sign that they still focus on self-defense.

Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Still Focuses On Self-Defense

Many schools still run by the Gracies teach what is called Gracie Jiu-Jitsu or GJJ. Gracie jiu jitsu is still founded on the principles of self-defense. So if there is a Gracie Jiu-Jitsu school in your area you might want to check them out. 

In addition, you might want to do a Google search for BJJ schools that focus on self-defense in your area. Of course, it is still best to go to school and ask around yourself.

Even many schools that focus on competition might have self-defense written on the windows or websites of their academy to help draw more people in. But then you get there and never learn the first thing about self-defense. 

Is Sport Jiu-Jitsu Useless For Self-Defense?

Though it might not be as ideal as self-defense-focused BJJ, sport jiu-jitsu is not useless for self-defense. After all, if a world-class sport jiu-jitsu champion got into an altercation they would still very likely be capable of defending themselves.

In the same way, I would bet my money on a pro boxer being able to defend themselves even though they do not train specifically for self-defense. As long as you are using common sense, then sport jiu-jitsu will still give you a huge edge over an attacker. 

The problem is that this would only apply to someone with a good amount of training under their belt in sport jiu-jitsu. If you go to a school that focuses on self-defense you will likely be better prepared to defend yourself in a shorter amount of time.

The great thing about sport BJJ is that it allows the art to continue to grow and evolve. That said, in some sense, it could evolve to become less practical for self-defense. On the other hand, it puts new techniques to the test and allows us to refine our skills.

So the best thing we can hope for is to keep both self-defense and sport jiu-jitsu evolving. This way they can both evolve together.

Is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Good Against Multiple Attackers?

The place that Brazilian jiu-jitsu has some weak spots for self-defense is when multiple attackers are involved.

Of course, if you think about it no martial art can prepare you for every possible situation. Even a well-trained boxer would probably have a difficult time against multiple people at the same time.

Truthfully these conversations and questions can go on forever. What is the best martial art vs multiple attackers? What if they have a weapon? The thing is that there is nothing that can prepare you for every possible situation in life.

The best thing you can do is to try and be prepared for as many situations as possible. That said, against multiple attackers, it would be best to know multiple martial arts. But you have to start somewhere and Gracie jiu jitsu is a great place to start.

In Summary

Brazilian jiu-jitsu is an excellent martial art to learn for self-defense. However, if self-defense is your main focus then you should probably go to a BJJ academy that focuses on self-defense.

You might just have to do a little research and check out a few academies before choosing your school.

Competition BJJ can also encourage you to stay in shape a focus on getting stronger. Which of course is never a bad thing if you want to be prepared for self-defense.

Of course, almost all fights start standing. So why not learn from some other martial arts that can help complement your BJJ? See if you can find an academy that also has a striking class even better.

After all, all we can do is be as prepared as we possibly can and hope we never have to use what we learn from jiu-jitsu class in a real-world situation. Because the best self-defense strategy is to avoid having to fight in the first place.

Joshua Paul

Joshua Paul is a BJJ purple belt who lives in Austin, Texas. Joshua loves all forms of grappling and when he is off the mats he is likely spending time with his wife and son.

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