Philosophy

COMPETITION VS. SELF DEFENSE

The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world is in controversy over whether or not the art of Jiu-Jitsu ought to be taught for the purpose of sport or self-defense. The sport side, or modern practitioners of Jiu-Jitsu seems to have come under attack from the more traditional BJJ practitioners. The claim from the side of tradition is that modern techniques have no real practical application in a real life self-defense situation. The modern practitioners claim is the same; that self-defense techniques have no practical place in training for competition. Both sides are correct but let’s take a look at something more fundamental than technique.

In training for a self-defense scenario, we learn to defend and attack from any number of potential situations; if an attacker does this, this is the technique you employ to defend or counter. There are any number of possible scenarios which take into account things like range, number of attackers, whether there are weapons or no weapons. It is very good to practice techniques to defend in any given situation, but something is missing from this kind of training. More fundamental than knowing a technique is the ability to employ it in a psychologically stressful situation. A person can know all the self-defense techniques in the world, understand range, when to close the distance and when to create space, when to punch or kick, choke or run away, but if that person has never been in a situation where things are happening fast and he is under great stress, where he has an opponent who is trying to overcome him, his knowledge will prove to be useless.

On the other hand, the traditionalists are correct. Many modern Jiu-Jitsu techniques would get a person killed in a real life and death situation. A person who tries to pull guard or berimbolo in a street fight would be out of his mind. There are certain techniques which only apply in a controlled situation where variable are limited. However, that person should have a solid enough understanding of fundamental Jiu-Jitsu techniques to be able to discern which techniques to apply. If a person does not have a good foundation built on fundamental techniques, his Jiu-Jitsu may indeed only be good for competition where all variables are controlled.