There’s a discussion about the effectiveness of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) in actual street fights.

Some say that if you have a blue belt in BJJ, you’re unbeatable against someone with no training. Others argue that BJJ is less effective because is a ground-fighting art. And Fights start standing. 

Let’s discuss if BJJ for self defense is actually effective. As someone experienced in various martial arts like BJJ, wrestling, and boxing, I’ll give you my take.

How does BJJ compare to other martial arts in real-world scenarios? Let’s find out if BJJ is worth learning for self-protection.

Pros of BJJ for Self DefenseCons of BJJ for Self Defense
Ground control, you’ll know how to bring the fight to the ground what to do thereSome schools focus on BJJ competitions, not self-defense
Techniques like joint locks and submissions can immobilize an attackerIneffective against multiple attackers
Effective against larger opponentsLimited takedown techniques, requiring additional training in wrestling or judo
Skills for real-world self-defense situationsCertain techniques may not be practical for self-defense
Good defensive techniquesDoesn’t cover all aspects of self-defense, like striking or kicking
Complements other martial arts like wrestling, judo, Muay Thai, or MMA
Emphasizes technique over raw strength
Improves situational awareness
Pros and Cons Of BJJ
BJJ for Self defense

How Does BJJ Work In A Street Fight?

How effective is BJJ in a real fight?

First off, BJJ is not just about strength and muscle. It focuses on technique and leverage.

If you’re facing someone bigger than you, you’ll be able to put them in a vulnerable position and then use a submission to make them give up. At least, that’s what they say…

BJJ specializes in ground fighting. Most of the techniques take place when both fighters are on the ground. Submissions like joint locks and chokes make your opponent tap out, meaning you won without causing serious harm.

In BJJ, the key is to secure a strong position on the ground before going for a submission. So, does BJJ work in street fights? Let’s look at the pros and cons of BJJ when it comes to real-life situations. 

8 Reasons Why BJJ for Self Defense Is Effective

If you’re wondering whether BJJ could be helpful in a street fight, you’re not alone.

I asked myself that question. Here’s why many believe BJJ is the perfect martial art for self-defense:

1. Defense Against Grabs and Holds

BJJ teaches you how to defend yourself when somebody grabs you. Striking martial arts don’t.

If someone tries to choke you or put you in a headlock, BJJ offers solutions. You’ll learn how to escape, bring your attacker down, and submit them. 

2. Focus on Takedowns and Ground Control

BJJ trains you to bring your opponent down and keep them there.

This is unexpected for many who are looking to strike. Many people know the basics of striking, but not many people know what to do once they are on the ground.

By the time you’re a blue belt, no untrained person can do anything to you once you’re fighting on the ground. 

3. Skills Against Bigger Opponents

BJJ teaches techniques to defeat larger opponents because it doesn’t rely on brute force.

In Boxing, if you are the smaller guy and have to fight against an untrained, larger person, your opponent could still get lucky. It sometimes only takes one good punch to end the fight.

In BJJ, you don’t get lucky. It’s about who has more skills. I saw over and over again a smaller, skilled fighter tapping out a much bigger opponent. 

4. Ready for The Ground

Many real fights end on the ground. BJJ prepares you for this scenario, giving you a huge advantage over those who aren’t.

Also, in BJJ, you spar every practice, which stands out compared to other martial arts. You are used to functioning in high-stress situations. You spar often, which is the best way to prepare you for real-life altercations.  

5. Diverse Techniques

BJJ offers an extensive list of techniques, making it difficult for your opponent to predict your next move. Other martial arts don’t have that many techniques.

In BJJ, For every attack, there is a defense. And for every defense, there’s an attack. You’ll always have a counter-attack ready. No matter what they are trying to do. 

6. Solution When Escape Isn’t An Option

I want to emphasize that the best self-defense is to run away.

Leave your ego out and escape the situation. You never know how trained the other person is or what they are carrying with them. As long as the person is not grabbing you, why engage? 

But what if you can’t run away? What if the person starts grabbing you? That’s where BJJ comes in. BJJ is one of the few martial arts that teaches you what to do when someone grabs you.

7. Ability to Neutralize Threats

Striking martial arts aim for a knockout.

Knocking somebody out is not easy, even if you’re trained. BJJ aims to choke somebody unconscious or break their limbs. You can make your opponent incapable of continuing the fight. 

If the situation escalates and you wonder if you should choke them out or break their limbs- It sounds rough, but break their limbs.

If you choke them out, they could still run after you and try to attack you again. When you break somebody’s leg or arm, they can’t. They would be forced to lay there until help arrived.  

8. Used For High-Stress Situations

In BJJ, you spar more than in any other martial art. Every practice has time dedicated to rolling. These rolling sessions are intense and teach us how to stay calm in high-stress situations, which I believe is useful in streetfight situations. 

When a fight breaks out, you’ll be able to be calmer and more composed because you’ve been in these fight situations many times before. 

5 Reasons Why Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is Not Effective for Self-Defense

1. Schools Focus Varies

Some BJJ schools focus on competition, not self-defense. You’ll learn BJJ techniques that work against other BJJ athletes, not techniques that work in a street fight.

For example, I don’t recommend pulling guard in a street fight. In BJJ, the Guard means you have an advantage, but only because your opponent is not allowed to punch you. 

If you’re crazy enough, have a look at Combat Jiu-Jitsu. Here, people are allowed to strike with open-palm strikes. The goal is to make BJJ more applicable to real-life situations or MMA fights where strikes are involved. 

2. Not All Techniques Are Useful

As I said, not all techniques will work on the streets.

You need to know which techniques work in real-world situations. Sometimes, you’ll learn flashy moves like the Berimbolo. I don’t think this technique will be useful on the streets. Does anybody out there have another opinion? Would love to hear! 

3. Not Great for Multiple Attackers

If more than one person attacks you, BJJ is not the best option.

By the time you choke one person out, the other person can punch and kick you from above, making you vulnerable on the ground to other attacks.

In such scenarios, it’s better to focus on stand-up fighting arts like boxing or Muay Thai.

4. Limited Takedowns

BJJ is great once you are on the ground, but I found that there is not enough emphasis on how to take somebody down. For that, you’d need to add wrestling or judo to your practice.

In the BJJ Gym, we sometimes don’t even start standing when we roll. One person will pull guard right away, or we even start the roll sitting or lying down.

5. Complementary Martial Arts Required

BJJ alone is not a complete martial art. There is no striking involved, and only limited takedown techniques are used.

In a street fight, you want to be prepared for whatever will happen. Combining it with other martial arts like wrestling and boxing will fill the gaps.

Final Thoughts

I love BJJ, and it gives me security when I’m out. I feel confident that what I learned in BJJ practice will work for an untrained person.

But if you’re caught in a real fight, you’ll want more than just BJJ. Striking arts like boxing and wrestling skills will come in handy here. 

So, is BJJ the ultimate martial art for self-defense?

Likely not, but it’s still valuable. Of course, the best is to train in multiple martial arts. You can focus on one and learn the basics in the other. In my case, I focus on BJJ, and once a week, I visit a Boxing or wrestling gym.

But with all that being said, I want to emphasize that you should avoid a fight at all costs Be aware of your surroundings and stay out of trouble whenever possible.

And if there’s a weapon involved, never engage! I don’t believe in martial arts that teach you how to disarm a person. The consequences are just too high. 

If you have any questions or disagree with me on some points, please reach out! I’m happy to clarify/discuss!

If you are still looking for equipment for your BJJ training sessions, check out our posts on the best BJJ Gis and the best rash guards for BJJ.

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