A family friend of my husband's spent the weekend at our house. Richard visits us regularly- he's a roadracer and the cycling around Austin is pretty demanding. Plus, he loves TacoDeli. As usual, martial arts and jiu jitsu came up in conversation. This time, we were waiting for a table at the best Thai place in town (Titaya, if you're curious) and in a nearby strip mall, he noticed an aikido dojo. No offense to any aikido practitioners in the audience (and I know Roy Dean could aikido me into the next century) but I do have a little bias in favor of BJJ over all other arts.
Richard's perspective was, he wants to learn to quickly take an attacker and put them on the ground (not that he's a bar brawler by any means-- he's about 5'8", 140lbs tops, and with a ready grin that invites friendship instead of fists). "I don't want to punch people, or kick people, and I certainly don't want to be down on the ground with them," he said... "Maybe I should take judo."
I kept trying to tell him that what I do is sport jiu jitsu out of my own preference, but that my academy focuses first on real self defense, and that this is what BJJ was designed to do. I tried to explain how judo has become more and more sport-focused over the years. But ultimately, I told him, whatever you study will be better than nothing at all, so whatever looks interesting to you, whatever you enjoy, whatever you find appealing enough to keep up with it-- that's what you should take.
But of course you should do BJJ first :)
Unfortunately I know from personal experience that most schools don't have a primary focus on self-defense. I wish I could move Richard to Austin for many reasons-- my husband loves him, and I think Austin is cooler than where he lives-- but among them is my pride in my academy and my instructor, for the emphasis on staying true to the heart and soul of Brazilian jiu jitsu. I've come quite a long ways in my 3.5 years of training-- from "I will never get in a bar fight, I don't care about self-defense, I want to roll!" not so long ago-- and I owe it to my team and my instructor for showing me the light.
One team, one family, one legacy.