Despite its proven efficacy in major martial arts competitions, there are still people who believe Jiu Jitsu isn’t a practical sport to learn, opting for more “traditional” self defense which involves punching or kicking, like Muay Thai or Karate. We’re here to crush that preconception.
As of this year, studies show that a whopping 85 percent of street fights will go to the ground. That means that if you didn’t think you need your ground game, think again.
Ideally, in a combat situation, the safest place to be is out of arm’s reach – that’s a given. The second safest place to be is right up on your opponent, practically in their armpit, where you can control their joints at the source. Anywhere in between, and you risk getting a blow to the head or a knee to the groin.
However, those not knowledgeable in self defense and martial arts don’t always know about range. They may have a superficial understanding of boxing angles, but without some practice in utilizing range, these angles of attack can become a tireless dance with no clear end.
When we know how to properly break through a barrier of arms and knees (we call this passing guard) and get to the center of our target, we can begin to take control of our opponent by knocking them off balance and disempowering their limbs – their tools. Gaining physical control over our opponent by restricting their ability to move, and therefore hurt us, allows us the opportunity to utilize a choke or submission and get the f*ck out of there.
The magic of Jiu Jitsu
A large part of the way we can utilize Jiu Jitsu lies in the surprise of it entirely. If someone comes at you with hands, the last thing they expect is for you to grab that hand and pull them in closer. With their momentum working in your favor, you can pull your opponent close to you and then go for another limb (like pulling a leg out from under them) to capitalize on their lack of balance, or use that arm to flip them around and put pressure on their shoulder and elbow joints.
You have options even if you don’t go to the ground.
In one video that went viral on the internet, a female cop is trying to stop somebody on the street. She grabs his shirt around the collar (a common grip for Jiu Jitsu) and uses it to pull him towards her. Though it ends up pulling his shirt over his head, she capitalizes on the man’s blocked vision by continuing to try to pull him in closer.
Ultimately she gets him to the ground and puts a knee to his belly to pin him as she calls for reinforcements.
Mariana Scott, a BJJ black belt from Brazil, frequently posts videos to her Instagram showing women how to use Jiu Jitsu moves in simulated “real life” self defense moments – like somebody pinning you up to the wall, or mugging you as you get out of a car. Learning about joint manipulation and how to take advantage of any limbs presented to you can make the difference between life and death.
Using Jiu Jitsu in the wild doesn’t have to look as dramatic as a police officer tackling a suspect. It can come in the form of the confidence your restaurant’s manager has when a spoiled teen tries to skip out on the bill.
One of our Easton Training Center coaches who manages a restaurant recently had an incident where a customer dined in, ate everything and refused to pay. When he was kindly asked to speak with the manager to resolve the conflict, he responded by insulting the server as well as her.
He went out the door and started running down the street, so our coach chased him. When she got close enough, he pushed her away. As he pushed her, she grabbed his arm and pulled him in.
She twisted his arm behind his back and used the generated pressure to pull him to the ground where she held him down until cops arrived. All of this while in a long skirt, may we add.
A woman trapped underneath a man in a precarious position can use the basics of Jiu Jitsu to build frames, create space, and escape. She can bring the sheath of her forearm bone to the soft place under his neck and push up while wedging her elbow to her hip bone and pushing out on him. Knowing how to off-balance your opponent even the tiniest bit can create enough space to fit a knee or a foot in and kick.
Jiu Jitsu has many practical applications outside of the gym.
Whether for expanding your flexibility or protection against real-life attackers, the understanding of the body’s joints, tension points and mobility will create a layer of protection that will not only supplement any striking knowledge you have for if a fight hits the ground, but it will imbue you with the confidence that will hopefully keep people from messing with you in the first place.