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Not-so-serious self-defense

March 16, 2008

This is probably the billionth time I’ve written this and I finally got to post it.

Prior to this the drafts I wrote were extremely serious and long winded. In other words I was absurdly preachy. I don’t mind preachy actually. The really outstanding instructors in self-defense usually are preachy in a non-preachy way because it’s a topic they’re passionate about. They want people to be correctly educated. They want people to be safe. They want to keep lives out of harm’s way. And if harm comes, these instructors want their students to be prepared to fuck it up and get the hell out of there in one piece.

I’m very interested in self-defense, but I’m not an expert nor am I an instructor – not yet anyway – so I can’t be preachy. Or I’ve tried my best not to sound preachy.

BJJ and Self-Defense
I love Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. It is an incredible combative art form.

The beauty of BJJ is that it is alive. It places a person against a fully uncooperating resisting opponent and the outcome is anyone’s guess. It is an attempt to control chaos in its respective range of combat.

The beauty of BJJ is that it champions technique over strength. It is skill and ability over size. And because it is an alive art, those with more training and more experience in BJJ will be favored over those that have none or little ground skills.

The beauty of BJJ is that it takes a seemingly vulnerable position on the ground and changes it into a place to launch an offense or an escape. This is what BJJ excels at. This is why BJJ is perfect for a woman.

BJJ has clear applications for self-defense, as if it was specifically tailored for women with its technique over strength and overcoming an opponent from a downed position. They might even find BJJ to be an easy fit, probably more so than other martial art. I should note that all the women I’ve rolled with were pretty happy with BJJ.

However, like all martial arts, BJJ is not self-defense. Martial arts and self-defense are never one and the same.

So here’s a “Do Not” list for BJJ practitioners when it comes to self-defense.

  • Do not pull guard against someone with a weapon or against multiple assailants. Funny story, actually knew a guy who did this in Hawaii. Okay, maybe not a funny story…
  • Do not immediately takedown the drunk guy who grabs your arm. Maybe he is just trying to steady himself.
  • Do not try for a flying armbar while in a bar.
  • Do not try for a flying armbar at all.
  • Do not assume you are badass and can handle yourself because you do BJJ. Exceptions are if your last name is Gracie, Machado, Silva, Garcia, Nogueria, Penn, Serra, Maia, Yahni…
  • Do not shout out loud that you know BJJ or what belt you are. That will not stop a potential attacker, unless he is looking to take a class.

All Kidding Aside
BJJ and self-defense actually share a common element; they are far more cerebal than most give it credit for. Example, the best self-defense technique I can offer is not a technique at all. It’s the simple concept of being aware, which is a safety method that comes from something I am far more passionate about than self-defense and BJJ – motorcycle riding.

Of course, every driver should scan the road for dangers, but it is far more important to actively do so while riding an engine with two wheels. No such thing as a crumple zone on a bike, unless you count your face. And I feel it’s exactly the same when it comes to self-defense.

Being aware of potential hazards and threats reduces the chance of an encounter. How’s that? Well, by exactly handling them the same way like dangers on the road; stay away from them. Duh. And most hazards and threats are easy to spot.

Like that guy walking around in the parking lot. Or a group gathered around an entrance way or lined up on both sides of a hallway. Or people who do not “match” the surroundings.

Locations can also be hazardous too, like that long pathway you always take but has lots of hidden corners or a place really far away from a heavy traffic area.

Then there’s the hazard combo – location and group – the stereotypical bar full of drunk bikers (safe if you’re a drunk biker – sort of but not really). Or worst than that, a bar full of drunk clientele all wearing the same jersey which turns out to be the rival team to the sports jersey you’re wearing.

See? And awareness is a majority of the battle.

Take it easy lemon squeezy.

Train safe and be safe.

One Comment leave one →
  1. April 5, 2008 9:18 am

    Agreed. I love BJJ but do not take it for self-defense. BJJ is probably best for one on one fights on a playground or a beach if it is the only form of fighting a person knows…..

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