IS JIU JITSU OFFENSIVE OR DEFENSIVE?
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a highly strategic, and systematic form of Martial Arts. The ground work involved has elements of offensive, and defensive bjj, and practitioners of the art are extremely well conditioned for combat. The art has been used for self defense since its inception in the early twentieth century, but slowly over the last century Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has also become one of the premier combat sports.
What this article covers:
- The Defensive Components of BJJ
- The Offensive Nature of BJJ
- Is It Better to Use Offense or Defense in Competition Matches
Athletes of today have highly functional defense systems that include guard retention work, aspects of framing, and the ability to escape from positions. The offensive side of Jiu Jitsu includes dynamic takedown maneuvers, energetic transitional components, and a brutal nature of submission ferocity.
It is hard to pinpoint whether Jiu Jitsu is more offensive than it is defensive, as it really does come down to each individual game style. To win the match an athlete needs to be offensive, because that is the only way they will maneuver their opponent into a submission hold. The defensive nature of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is there to help athletes survive, and get out of dangerous positions. The make up of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is extremely diverse, as an athlete can use their defense as a way to set up their offense. This is evident when athletes showcase their ability to escape, and use this transition to move into an attacking position. The art of BJJ has both offensive and defensive components that all athletes will need in pursuit of a more functional game style.
THE DEFENSIVE COMPONENTS OF BJJ
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu can be an extremely defensive Martial Art. The defensive structure of grappling is the most important aspect, otherwise an athlete will be on the receiving end of a submission. All athletes will use a defensive mindset when they begin a match, and this is evident in how they will address the grips from the standing position. When an opponent takes the dominant grip it is imperative that the athlete breaks the grip, and looks to reposition their own controlling grips. Using footwork, and standing in base at all times is vital for an athlete to avoid getting taken down. Without these principles in play then the athlete will lose balance, and wind up on the mat in a precarious position. These defensive structures will continue as the fight hits the mat, and most athletes will use different guard positions as a way to stop an opponent from passing their guard. Holding a dynamic opponent in the guard can be boring, but is completely necessary because of the exposure to their offensive nature.
All athletes that are stuck in bad positions will use guard retention, and this is the act of using an athlete's arms and legs to frame, and then escaping their hips, before retaining the guard. This defensive structure is seen when an athlete scrambles out of the mount, or side control, and clings onto their half guard, before reclaiming their closed guard. Utilising guard retention principles is crucial to regaining some control, and stopping an opponent from dominating them. Good body posture, and framing techniques are an extremely good defensive mechanism, which can keep an opponent away from their attacking capabilities. When an opponent latches onto a submission, this is when a defensive structure is needed the most. Athletes will use their frames, and their grip breaks to untangle arms from around their throat, and free their arms, and legs from dangerous entanglement positions.
THE OFFENSIVE NATURE OF BJJ
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has an offensive platform that all athletes need to use during rolling. This is evident in how an athlete will pass the guard, as they use coordinated attack plans like knee slicing, backstepping, and weave passing to achieve their objective. There are many different offensive tools in the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu arsenal, as an athlete can utilise sweeping mechanisms to gain dominant control positions, and attacking movements to administer leg entanglement positions. Gaining the dominant grips in a grappling match is extremely important, and this is one of the most offensive ways an athlete can begin to dictate how the fight is going to go.
Offensive Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is when an athlete uses their transitions to trap an opponent into a range of different submission set ups. There are a multitude of different submission moves, and using a baiting system to trap an opponent into a submission is vital to the achievement of their objective. Submissions can be achieved from all positions in Jiu Jitsu, with many of them administered from the guard, or in other top control positions like the mount, side control, and the back control position. Submission offense can also be achieved from the standing position, as athletes will commonly try to outmaneuver their opponents from the outset of the match. There are other positions like the knee ride, the north south position, the kesa gatame, and the turtle position that can also be used to launch offensive maneuvers from.
In the modern era of BJJ athletes will use an extremely offensive nature to attack their opponents. This has become extremely evident with No Gi grappling, where high level athletes utilise the ashi garami position to attack leg entanglements. This type of offense has become the premier choice of attack by most world class athletes. Not only is the leg lock one of the most devastating offensive attacks, high level athletes are now using inversion techniques to gain significant control positions like taking the back. This can lead to an even higher level of attack, as the back control system is the most dominant position in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. The modern innovation of BJJ has seen athletes use offensive weaponry to dominate their opponents on the professional grappling circuit.
IS IT BETTER TO USE OFFENSE OR DEFENSE IN COMPETITION MATCHES
Competing in a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu tournament has a way of forcing an athlete to change their game plan, and this is because a competitive match can change momentum rapidly. Some athletes can get caught up in the anxiety of the moment, which can play a big role in the outcome of a match. Choosing to be offensive or defensive isn't really an option, as an athlete needs to be reactive in each moment as they come. All athletes must have elements of offense if they want to be successful in a tournament match, and being defensive is important, but it cannot dictate how an athlete will flow throughout their competition matches. When an athlete is stuck in a submission, or underneath a position like the mount, then using defensive mechanisms like framing, and posture is crucial to their survivability during a match. This is why having a solid defense is crucial, so that the athlete can launch offensive attacks.
The only way to win a match is by being offensive, and this will work in both aspects of winning a match. Scoring points in a competition can only happen by an offensive maneuver like taking the back, gaining the mount position, taking an opponent down to the mat, or sweeping them onto their back. Winning the match by submission also means that an athlete has to be offensive. Setting up a different range of submissions can not happen from pure defense, as an athlete needs to make moves just like in chess to trap the king. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a lot like chess, as the strategic board game uses pawns, bishops, and rooks to maneuver their way into trapping the king. This is the same as an athlete will use grips, controls, arm drags, and transitions to trap the neck of their opponent into a submission. These are all offensive moves, and must be mastered so that the athlete can win competitive matches in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
THE BEST WAY TO USE BJJ FOR SELF DEFENSE
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is not only a combat sport that athletes can compete in, there are also prominent self defense applications. Jiu Jitsu was first designed as a self defense combat system, as the formidable Martial Art was used in the early days of Vale Tudo in Brazil. The application of traditional Jiu Jitsu and other styles like sanuces ryu jiu jitsu techniques, were used with an adaptive form of striking, grappling, and throwing techniques. Using BJJ in a self defense capacity has many different applications, and fundamentally many of the moves are crucial to helping a victim survive. Posture and footwork are two essential components that a person needs, to be able to counteract any takedown maneuvers from an attacker.
There are a few factors that should not be used in a street altercation, like pulling guard. This is a bad decision on the streets, because there are too many things that can go wrong. Some students may think they can pull guard, and submit their opponent, but in a street altercation a person should never ever give up the top position. It is too easy for an attacker to use the ground as a way to hurt someone, and this can often lead to serious injuries. Being underneath an attacker can be extremely dangerous, because they might be able to use weapons, slip out of submission attempts to use strikes, or even gang up on a victim with other assailants, which can be deadly. Turning their back on an attacker is another huge mistake, because the attacker will have a definitive advantage, and may land devastating blows to the head, or the spine. If the attacker knows anything about wrestling, judo or bjj for self defense then they will also be able to neutralise, or choke the person, and in a street situation this can be life threatening. Usually an attacker will still have fear, because they do not want to get caught and go to prison, nor do they want to be defeated, so this can lead to an attacker committing dangerous acts, which can result in unintentional death, or severe injuries.
It is vitally important that anyone using self defense principles proceed with caution in any conflict scenario. The best method is to avoid danger altogether, or make sure they know where their escape is, and try to flee the situation. A fight on the street can always go wrong, and being a hero is not like in the movies. There are situations where an altercation cannot be avoided, and in these moments anyone who is forced to face an attacker must use a calm attitude, a strong base, good posture, and quick reflexes. Maintaining distance is imperative to surviving against an attacker, and if someone can cause enough problems for an attacker this can usually force them to give up, and try to find an easier target.
HOW TO TRAIN BOTH ELEMENTS IN BJJ
Understanding how to use both defensive, and offensive components is a crucial element in becoming a higher level athlete in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. There are times when an athlete can be offensive like using high impact takedowns, dynamic guard passing, slick transitional components, and brutal submission maneuvers. But knowing when to be defensive is the key aspect in linking all of the game styles together. Defensive components like breaking grips, using good posture, utilising framework, using different angles to escape their hips are all extremely relevant facets that need to be practiced by a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioner.
Athletes that train inside of an academy must think about how these aspects are all linked together. Rolling against lower level athletes, and dominating them time and time again will only sharpen some of their offensive skills. Athletes need to also roll against other training partners that can challenge them, as this is the only way for them to practice all of their defensive maneuvers. Rolling to the submission is not always the best play, and athletes can start to utilise different drills in their rolling like playing sweeping and passing games. Utilising mat time is crucial, and athletes can bolster their game styles by practicing different ways to pass the guard, while their opponent attempts to retain their guard. This can also be achieved in all different aspects of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu including takedown battles, sweeping and submitting, and maintaining and escaping from positions.
These are all fundamental ways that athletes can train their offensive, and defensive game styles. Even when athletes are rolling to the submission they should not always pick an easy target to roll with, instead they should constantly mix it up, and roll with both lower level, and higher level athletes. Rolling with the higher level athletes will help them work on their submission defense, their positional escapes, and how to survive while under extreme amounts of pressure. Rolling against the lower level athletes is also a good idea, because not only will they have low impact on their joints, and tendons, they will also be able to forge a sharper game style by working on all of their flow chains. This is important in knowing how to hit certain movements, and once they have mastered many of these techniques it will become easier to attempt these on higher level opponents.
Offense and defense in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is like the Yin and Yang, they are both just as important as each other. An athlete cannot win without being offensive, but if they have no defensive skills then an opponent will easily be able to defeat them. This is just like the circle of life, as both of these aspects are equally important. In terms of winning competitive matches, offense is probably more important, because at the end of the day if an athlete loses the match it is only a sport, so the defensive aspect may not be as crucial to the athlete compared to the offensive attack. It really does come down to the attitude, and the drive of each individual athlete, as some of them are in it to win, while others are in it just to survive.
When talking about a real life street application, the defensive aspect is much more important than the offensive one. All people that get stuck in a straight fight do not want to lose, and are most likely wanting to win. But this is usually only for pride, as someone with more to lose will commonly want to walk away from the altercation, because they do not want to receive damage. This is why being defensive on the streets is extremely important, because of how easily someone can lose their life, or cop serious injuries. The necessity for having a good offense on the street is not as important, because winning the fight means far less than living on to see another day. So both aspects of offense and defense have significant validity, and seem to have important, and unimportant aspects in competition, and on the street level application.
If you enjoyed this piece, consider checking: