Supplementing your BJJ with Striking Arts
Be A Well Rounded Martial Artist, and Get Some Striking Skill!
If your goal is to be the greatest BJJ grappling champion in the world, maybe this article is not meant for you, carry on with your day. If you joined BJJ to learn self defense or possibly transition to MMA, or because you want to be a well rounded Martial Artist, this article may have something to offer you.
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I want to talk about supplementing your BJJ with a striking art. Examples of some good styles to cross train in are Boxing, Kickboxing, Muay Thai (find out about it in Muay Thai Counters by Singdam Yokkao Saenchaigym), and full contact Karate (none of that point sparring non-sense; if interested to learn more, we offer Complete Kickboxing Basics by Jerome Lebanner or H Kick Boxing Fundamentals by Henri Hooft). We all know BJJ is the king of fighting on the ground, our transitions are seamless, our submissions are devastating, and our ability to defend ourselves against a larger attacker on the ground is second to none. Where BJJ loses a bit (depending on your school) is the takedown department, so a simple solution is to add in Wrestling, Sambo, and Judo techniques to compliment your takedown offense and defense.
Now, what about striking? Traditional Japanese Jiu Jitsu has some striking, Atemi, and its the techniques that allow them to close the distance to clinches as well as distracting the opponent long enough to apply a standing joint lock. Helio Gracie even shows a small amount of striking techniques in his book. I think we can all agree though that the methods of striking just discussed are pretty much outdated and underwhelming when compared to a dedicated striking art.
So, why add striking to our repertoire of skills? Because, all fights start standing, and if you can not close the distance by using proper, stable footwork, with the addition of using strikes to make the opponent forced to defend as you move in, how will you get the fight to the floor? Even if you do not plan on using strikes of your own in a real fight just knowing how striking works so as to give you an advantage in closing the distance goes a long way.
Now what if you do make it to the clinch and say the attacker is bigger and stronger and may even have a good understanding of base and balance, knowing how to strike from the clinch can open him up and give you the opportunity to enact a takedown, taking the fight to your comfort zone.
Take a step back now, say we are not even in the clinch yet, we are still standing far enough apart that we are in traditional striking ranges. If you have the ability to strike and knock your opponent out right there or to strike and escape, that is a great self defense tool to have. Especially when third parties are present, one does not want to find themselves grappling on the floor (if it can be helped) when others are around that may possibly hop into the fight, attacking you while you are tangled up. Yes, there is no good martial art for fighting multiple people, only strategies that may work. One strategy is using striking, moving from one target to the next until you have knocked them all out, or more realistically, created an opening to run away.
With all that being said, if you can only train one art because of time, money or your school only offers one and it is between a striking art or BJJ, make it BJJ. At the end of the day, if you do not how to grapple and defend yourself on the ground, your striking will usually go out the window, UFC 1 proved this! There is no “counter grappling” only countering grappling with better grappling!