Thursday, July 28, 2011

It's why we're here.

Last night I did an hour-long seminar on self defense with Rhalan Gracie, Relson's son and a new blackbelt. It was awesome. He's a very good instructor, and it helps that I have a completely different perspective on self defense as compared with when I was new to jiu jitsu.

Then, I thought I would never need to worry about bar fights and being jumped in an alley. (I still think that if I am in a bar fight, I have obviously made many mistakes.) But now, no matter how unlikely I think this bar fight scenario might be, I am motivated to learn self defense for other reasons.

For one, to represent the truest expression of my art-- Helio designed this so the smaller, weaker person could SURVIVE. And by surviving, we win. As Rhalan put it last night-- this is for worst-case scenarios. Not the 50/50 where you're both standing, both ready and aware that it's about to be a fight, where you could (and maybe should) just run away to avoid the confrontation. No, it's about the 80/20, where there's an 80% chance he's going to beat your face in because he took you unawares, hit the back of your head, stunned you, and you're on the ground, mounted... and there's only a 20% chance you'll get up without teeth being knocked out of your head.

For another, because I really would like to be able to teach this someday, and how can you teach "just" sport jiu jitsu? How can you know that there are techniques which could save someone's life and not share them? I couldn't stand to walk around in a Gracie Jiu Jitsu tshirt and not be sure that I had a plan "just in case" some crazy girl swung at me for looking at her man. Or whatever.

So we covered blocking a haymaker punch and converting to a hip toss.. escaping mount.. escaping a two-handed choke... it was really useful stuff. And I was the dork who kept thinking to herself "Ha! This is all just ordinary jiu jitsu!" But really, except for the blocking the punches stuff, it IS just plain old jiu jitsu. Or, better-- jiu jitsu is just plain old self defense. It's about using their momentum against them and staying safe while gaining the dominant position. I love it!

FYI-- today's deal over at is an $80 Fuji summerweight gi. Go get one if you're anywhere near as hot as it is here (today's high, 101. A mere 90 now.)


HomeImprovementNinja said...

Yeah, i think everyone is so competitive and involved in the sport side of BJJ that people neglect the real world stuff. It's good that you get a chance to work on self defense type stuff once in a while.

AJ said...

True. And it's really a shame. Kinda sucks when you're this great competitor and you get your butt kicked at the bar...

Afrorican said...

I agree. I really wish we had a BJJ "for the streets" self defense class. Too many people only think about the sport aspect.

Anonymous said...

Well written article as usual. The street vs sport debate is old. Jack Dempsey said something along the lines of "there are rules,ref, and time limit, its not a fight." As a police officer I can tell you that "sport bjj" will help you on the street. Most street encounters are clumsy,brief, and violent. The beauty and blessing of our chosen art enables us, myself being a small man, the ability to escape and even disable a bigger opponent. You are correct though in the "self defense" aspect. Many times as we advance in bjj it is awkward to even roll with a newcomer because they do things "they arent supposed to do", headlocks, half nelsons etc. We must not be thrown off by such things.
Helio created this art for us and proved its effectiveness on the streets of Rio, have faith in it.

slideyfoot said...

Cool stuff: always a good, thought-provoking topic.

As you know, self defence is not something that has ever interested me (on a practical level at least, as it can be fun to discuss), largely due to four reasons:

1. I find what is normally introduced as 'self defence' (e.g., bear hug escapes, defence against a haymaker etc) boring to train, because it is normally taught through compliant drilling.

2. There doesn't seem to be that trademark complex interplay of technique you normally get in BJJ, with counter and recounter and variation (which is one of the things I love most about training jiu jitsu.)

3. I'm not entirely convinced by the whole 'sport' vs 'self defence' dichotomy in the first place. I babble about that at length here.

4. I don't think learning a few techniques would actually help a weedy little super-passive guy like me much in a real situation, because I'd be a lot more worried about all the other stuff: environment, dealing with adrenaline, verbal posturing, legal ramifications, psychology etc.

Your point on teaching is interesting too, because also as you know, that's something I started doing recently (back in May). I have no intention whatsoever of teaching anything specifically 'self defence.'

Still, I couldn't fall back on that excuse as easily if I ever ran my own academy (a very long way off: might well never happen), given that I currently have the luxury of an experienced head coach: I only teach once a week at his club. I look forward to seeing if I gradually develop an interest in the self defence side of things in the future. :D

Oh, and I'd obviously disagree that Helio designed it, given he was the last of the five brothers to actually learn BJJ. They'd all been quite busy designing for many years before he even started. ;p

Chaos Sen said...

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