If you haven’t participated in a grappling or combat sport such as wrestling or Judo or really anything full contact for that matter (basketball, soccer, football etc.) you may have wondered if Jiu Jitsu techniques (not including, boxing, karate, taekwondo or any other Martial Art that relies on punches and kicks) are an effective enough form of Self Defense. The honest answer, you will be shocked to learn, is NO! But… Before you stop reading, it’s important we take into the account the context of what we’re telling you. Because if we ask the question differently, say for example “Does someone who lives the Jiu Jitsu lifestyle have OVERWHELMINGLY GREAT ODDS against an untrained attacker?” The answer is a one hundred percent positive YES!
You see, rather than tell you that the techniques and strategies that comprise Jiu Jitsu are going to make you unbeatable in the streets we need to go into a bit more depth to understand why this is not the case. First of all let’s agree that there are no guarantees when it comes to a physical altercation, but what can training correctly, eating correctly along with learning how to use leverage against a bigger opponent give you against an untrained attacker in the streets? Well, let’s say the advantage can be astronomical! However, before getting ahead of ourselves let’s define “living the Jiu Jitsu lifestyle” and how do we begin to exercise these principles to increase our chances of survival in the street.
When we talk about the Jiu Jitsu lifestyle, we are referring to far more than just learning techniques and sparring every day. What we are talking about starts with a mindset that when applied correctly will transform your life in ways you never thought possible. Sounds somewhat ideological right? That’s because without effort it is. We can’t stress enough how thoughts and ideas without action have little value to you. Unfortunately, this is mostly what follows most self-defense courses without the attitude of starting to change your habits little by little or spend the rest of your life improving yourself physically, mentally and spiritually. The reason we prefer to use the word lifestyle over training is because Jiu Jitsu is meant to go far beyond the physical aspect. It starts with the right mentality and approach to set you up for success down the road. Those who are truly interested in their safety and wellbeing must decide to invest the right amount of time and energy towards their goals to ensure that their efforts are not wasted. By doing this you will get to experience all the many benefits that come with a life of training and learning which are great! Here are some of the benefits that people who stick the program receive:
-A team to back you and your goals
-Safety and security
-Peace of mind
Sound to good to be true? It’s not at all if you follow the steps that many ordinary people just like you and I have managed to do. By simply trusting the process and following the plan you will begin to see your goals as “just a matter of time” if you are willing to be patient and consistent. Some of our students have lost nearly 100 pounds in just a few years of their journey and it wasn’t by any drastic measures like some of the insane fitness programs and incredibly restrictive diets that are out there. These students all started by showing up to class before later on starting to slowly prioritize their eating habits and exercise. We say slowly because it’s not a sprint, Rome wasn’t built over night and that’s because great things take time. Now these students are not only a force to be reckoned with on the mats but some of them have become instructors because Jiu Jitsu ignited a passion inside of them that they didn’t know was there. The best part is many of these people who are now beasts on the mat are the kindest, gentlest most respectful people who you’d meet. This is because they understand what it was like to be afraid, out of shape and the new person in class. They are also very good at avoiding conflict whenever possible, it’s that cheesy line from one of the Spiderman movies “with great power comes great responsibility”. I should also mention that none of the previously mentioned people are superhuman by any stretch of the imagination. They are your regular Joes and Janes who stuck to the program and allowed it the time to change them for the better. Which is exactly what the people responsible for creating and evolving this system intended. Done correctly it should add value to your life and help you spend more time with people you love.
One of our greatest joys is to witness the bonds that people form which push them further in their journey. There’s a saying “The reason you start is never the reason you continue.” and we get to see it time and time again. We love seeing parents who put their kids in Jiu Jitsu only to join later out of curiosity and enjoy a discipline that keeps them at their best while getting to share it with their kids. The best part about the Jiu Jitsu lifestyle is that no one can take it from you. You’ll also feel safe being around dozens of trained Martial Artists who are happy to help you and protect you. Spending time around a Jiu Jitsu academy is one of the safest places you can be. Just look for a reputable school that has been around for quite sometime and looks to uphold a professional standard, if they have been around for years they understand what it means to do the right thing on a human and business level. Any reasonable academy owner will know that letting your students come into harm’s way is not good for business, so they will usually go out of their way to ensure your safety.
Going back to the practicality of Jiu Jitsu in a self defense situation, let’s understand that most people who are violent attackers are not well trained while they may have experience mugging, street fighting and other instances of aggressive behavior. They can be under the influence of substances (drugs and alcohol), train infrequently, and looking for people who demonstrate the behaviors of an easy target. This can include, poor posture, lack of attention to surroundings, being alone, being distracted, isolated or cornered. While we must acknowledge the clear and imminent threat, especially if we are smaller than most with little to no experience in a physical confrontation, there a few precautions that can be exercised.
-Your mind is your first weapon. Prevent dangerous situations by avoiding them altogether. Avoid going out alone, being in areas with poor lighting, being unaware of where exits or entry points are in an urban environment.
-Your eyes are one of your most important tools of defense, don’t let your guard down ever. Be alert and make a habit of constantly watching and scanning the area, especially when outside. You are less likely to be a victim if you seem aware. Predatory behavior is to look for who will be the easiest target
-Avoid being out late at night especially if you are by yourself, if you must, make someone aware of your location to check on you so if they don’t hear back they can alert the authorities.
-Understand that devices such as handheld tasers & pepper spray are unlikely to work. Most of us are not familiar with the level of violence that exists, these people can be on drugs to a point where they feel nothing. Things can also happen very quickly out of nowhere.
-Be in your best physical shape possible.
-Train some sort of Martial Art. It doesn’t have to be Jiu Jitsu but it should expose you to person to person contact to make you aware of what a physical altercation consists of. I am biased towards grappling(Judo/Wrestling/BJJ) especially when it comes to female practitioners because you can train at nearly one hundred percent effort(once you have a certain skill level) with male partners while sustaining minimal damage different than boxing or kickboxing. Women are also shown to be attacked by men differently than man on man, characterized more by grabs, holds and pins versus strikes (kicks, punches, elbows, knees).
The point of all this, is that techniques alone don’t make you more capable of defending yourself. Without the right mindset you can become even more prone to dangerous situations. Something we refer to as false empowerment. As humans, we evolved to understand that on our own we are much more prone to danger than when we are united. What a Martial Arts lifestyle should do for you is make you a part of a tribe interested in physical, mental and spiritual growth that will help you become your best version while protecting you along the way. On our own, we are surprisingly weak and vulnerable but just like trying to break a bundle of sticks versus just one, together we are much stronger.