“However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.” – Winston Churchill
Of all of the blogs that I have ever written the one that has gotten the most comments is definitely BJJ AIN’T ENOUGH FOR THE STREETS. I am still getting comments a year after I ran that blog. If you haven’t read it here is the link;
I will start this blog off by reiterating that I have the utmost respect for those in BJJ. I have studied it off and on for years, have friends who are black belts in B JJ and know what it takes to get such a high rank. BJJ athletes are some of the most in shape guys I know. The art is amazing, it takes brains and athletic ability. It is like chess on the mat. My young son is about ready to start taking lessons in an art and I am pushing him towards BJJ. It’s great for what it is…but it’s not all that great for self defense.
Here is the latest comment I got on the blog;
“ As someone who is new to BJJ, almost a year and a half into training (4 strip white belt) twice a week I will say that you make some very good points, particularly in regards to the nut grabs, eye gouges or biting that might occur in a real life and death style fight. I do however have one problem with Krav Maga and that’s that most of the type of training involves non-fully resisting opponents. BJJ is one of the few martial arts (other than judo, wrestling, and sambo) where you can practice it without pads against a fully resisting opponent. That alone is HUGE when practicing anything. We may drill all day long until we’re 100% confident that we can perform a maneuver only to realize after the first try against a fully resisting opponent that we don’t really know how to use it without panicking at the first sign of resistance. Then comes more training until it’s just instinct. But that only comes with fully resisting opponents day in and day out. Most of Krav Maga’s specialized techniques that I’ve seen can’t be practiced safely without seriously injuring someone, nor do we really know exactly how our opponent may use his said weapon or what and how his buddy might want to attack us. In short I think you’re giving yourself a false sense of confidence that really could get you killed in a situation that talking and swallowing a little pride might get you out of. I say practice KM all you want and maybe just maybe it will save your life but if you’re relying on that knife or gun disarm to work, you may find out the hard way (when you’re dead) that you didn’t really know what to expect because you we’re able to practice it against numerous opponents and experience all the different types of resistance. BJJ may have it’s limitations but at least after rolling over and over again, you know what you are and aren’t capable of 99% of the time. Regardless, you do make good points and I’m not trying to completely disregard KM. I’d just much rather be very good at one limited aspect of fighting than falsely confident that I could handle all of the others.”
First off, I love getting comments on my blogs, even when I don’t agree with them. I like that people have taken the time to think about why they believe what they do. I like having to think about, and verbalize, why I believe what I do.
The above comment is fairly typical of what I get from the BJJ crowd. The first thing that sticks out to me is that we are usually talking apples and oranges. They want to talk about competitions, the UFC, school yard brawls and bar fights where it’s just them and another guy duking it out, not really wanting to hurt each other. For those situations I would agree that BJJ is the way to go. In Krav Maga we are mainly worried about what the scumbags are doing as far as violent street crime is concerned. We study mob violence, home invasions, rapes, etc. and gear our training to these horrifying scenarios. I know that BJJ has very few answers for multiple attackers, a blade slicing at you or a handgun in your face. I’ve had some of these guys make fun that we are training for such scenarios. I tell them to read the news, this crap happens daily.
Now on to BJJ is best because they are going full out on a fully resisting opponent, and I got plenty to say about that!
Again, we are comparing apples and oranges. You are training against someone fully resisting a grappling match, not fully trying to kill you with a knife, kick to your head while you’re down, shooting you, etc. Yes, fully resistant attackers are a good training model but only if you are training for what you will find in a real life violent situation. If you are going full out on an opponent who is fully resisting and you both walk away unharmed what good could what you are doing possibly do you on the street when you need to put someone down, go through more than one and get the heck out of there? Self defense is going forward with rage and aggression, doing maximum damage in minimum time and getting to safety.
I’ve got news for you, unless you are breaking limbs and tearing ligaments you are not going 100% all out and being realistic with a fully resisting (fully fighting back) opponent. You stop before you injure for safety reasons. I can certainly kick a shield full out and then, when kicking my partner to the groin, pull it at the end so as to not do damage. If we are going full out in training we would run out of training partners in a hurry. All training has limitations, there is nobody who trains purposely hurting people. If we carry this commenter’s thoughts to the next step they are saying that nobody training a knife art can really be getting good training unless they are actually slicing and stabbing their training partners, that the best way to really learn to shoot a handgun is to shoot at people who are shooting back at you. Do the special forces in our military go to boot camp to actually shoot at each other, throw grenades at each other, knock each other unconscious in hand to hand training, etc.? Of course not, yet these guys are the best of the best and are trained very well. A good couple of reads on how the military (and anyone else) can train effectively without going 100% with their techniques causing damage is Sharpening The Warrior’s Edge by Bruce Siddle and Training at the Speed of Life by Kenneth Murray .
More importantly for surviving real world violence than a fully resisting opponent would be to mimic what you will be going through if you find yourself in that situation. To train with surprise, stress, exhaustion, the adrenalin dump, etc. would be much more important than a partner who is going hard. For the comment “if you’re relying on that knife or gun disarm to work, you may find out the hard way (when you’re dead) that you didn’t really know what to expect because you we’re able to practice it against numerous opponents and experience all the different types of resistance” I would have to argue that just practicing a technique with numerous opponents with different experience levels won’t help at all when the real event will put us into a mid brain state, produce paralyzing fear, give us a major adrenaline dump and totally stress us past anything else we’ve ever been through. This commenter seem to have made some assumptions about how we train that are incorrect. We train for this reaction and mimic all of this chaos as best we can in drills and tests…and, oh, we do train with High Gear suits so that we can go full force against a fully resisting opponent as well…assumptions, assumptions.
Be proud of your art and train hard but don’t tell a Kraver that “patiently controlling someone until they can be submitted” is a better philosophy for self defense. BE SAFE!!