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Does your BJJ School Teach Self Defense or Sport?
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu was considered the most effective form of self defense and the single most effective style for fighting at one point.
After the first UFC when Royce Gracie showed the effectiveness of this art against fighters larger to him the world was stunned and wanted to know more. Watch the Gracie in action videos to see even more examples of Jiu Jitsu versus other styles.
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Now, in 2019, there are people who say better options for self defense may belong to arts such as Muay Thai, Krav Maga, wrestling, etc, for the simple fact that most Brazilian Jiu Jitsu schools focus solely on winning point competitions and work almost exclusively from the ground almost completely ignoring the standing positions and how to defend strikes as well as use strikes of their own.
Everyone has the right to choose what they do and what they enjoy (whether that is training to prepare for a real fight or training for sport, or even both) but at its core, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu was meant to be an art of self defense that teaches an individual how to defend oneself against a multitude of threats. Some schools do an excellent job of teaching both aspects of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, they have a system for allocating time to the whole art, teaching it as a holistic self defense method that contains the techniques necessary to defend against strikes, use strikes, and take an opponent to the floor, while also maintaining a strong competition aspect.
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu does not have to be trained one way or the other, you do not have to be solely sport or a pure self defense school, the art of BJJ is vast and has evolved so quickly in the past few years that you would be doing yourself a disservice to only stick with one aspect of the art.
Self defense only proponents who claim that the sport side of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is just a detriment to their art are wrong as well because the sport side of it gives you an avenue to train at 100% intensity without injuries and competing at tournaments is a great way to inoculate yourself to the stress of a real situation.
At the same time though, those that say the self defense aspect of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is useless and that all you need to win a fight is modern sport techniques may be unpleasantly surprised when they start rolling with just simple slaps to the face or when the new white belt sticks them in a strong headlock and starts hitting them, they may realize that a lot of what they trained goes out the window when the strikes start coming in, or maybe starting a match standing with someone who knows how to move properly and can utilize a basic jab and push kick, you will come to understand that closing the distance can be even more difficult if the opponent has just a base knowledge of how to move their feet and throw strikes and that actually completing the takedown when worrying about punches to your face is whole other problem as well.
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Do you train at a only sport Brazilian Jiu Jitsu school but wish to know the full spectrum of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and how it can be used to defend against a real attacker? Talk to your coach and respectfully ask for some training in that side of the art, chances are that your coach does know some of it (maybe it is not his favorite aspect so he does not specialize in it) and will be happy to share their knowledge, a lot of schools stop teaching self defense because they feel it bores some students, so do not be afraid to ask.
If your coach says no and it is really what you want to learn, maybe look into other places to train in your area. The same goes for self defense only schools, there is no reason to run from the ever evolving sport of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. If your school ignores current sport aspects, ask your coach for the basics of these new sport centric positions or attend seminars at other schools. Embrace the whole world of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and all it has to offer, you might come to realize that you love training with strikes involved or that you have a passion for the sport side of it and want to integrate it more into your personal training!
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