Does your BJJ Involve Strikes?
Should you incorporate strikes into your training?
First and foremost, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu was created as a self defense art to keep you protected from a larger, untrained attacker on the street where there are no rules. Of course as you further your training you can start to focus on the sportive side of BJJ or delve deeper into the more MMA focused, skilled fighting side of it, but in the beginning you should make it a goal to be able to defend yourself against someone who wants to hurt you that has no training but is also larger and stronger than you.
Your training should be geared towards the untrained energy and responses that a random person off the “streets” may give you, not necessarily the skilled responses of another trained Jiujiteiro or MMA fighter (although later on in your training this will be necessary to continue your growth and gain of knowledge).
This guard game will have you prepared for everything! Click Learn More!
The simplest and most straightforward way to begin learning this skill set is to roll with strikes. It sounds scary to some but if you take it slow with a trusted training partner and a competent coach the acquisition of realistic self defense skills should not be overly complicated or difficult to obtain. Start by rolling positionally but add in open handed strikes, this is an easy way of immediately being able to tell if the range that you are training at is realistic for a fight. If your partner can slap you (lightly to start) you now immediately know that you either need to close the distance and tie them up, or make tons of distance and keep them at a range in which they can no longer touch you.
Level 2 is to put on MMA or boxing gloves and do the same positional rolling, but now the strikes are a little more realistic. Of course when training with real punches a mouthpiece is recommended, even when going lightly with somebody you trust, an accident can happen. Remember, we are learning to fight, not bake cupcakes so if you start to ramp up the intensity make sure you are mentally in it and not slacking off. Even a child can land a lucky shot from time to time so always be on your toes when training with strikes.
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Next you can start incorporating strikes of your own, so now not only defending against them but using your own strikes to not only make opening for submissions but also to end fights from a dominant positions. Do not forget about standing though. All fights start on the feet, make sure you are also learning to close the distance against strikes while standing and also how to use strikes of your own to close the distance and set up your own takedowns!
Who knows, you may discover that you thoroughly enjoy training with strikes, maybe even more than sport style rolling and it may spur you to delve into other striking arts to compliment your BJJ. Next thing you know you will find yourself feeling more confident than ever because now your art is truly martial in nature and you have the ability to realistically defend yourself against somebody who wants to strike you, skilled or unskilled. So train hard, train safe, and most importantly, have fun and listen to your coaches!
One of the foremost experts on the incorporation of strikes into your grappling is high-level MMA Coach Neil Melanson. Check out his Advanced Guard Systems which can be beneficial strictly from a BJJ perspective, but also when strikes and real world self defense become the priority. You can get it here at BJJ Fanatics!