Self defence and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

So you’re looking to take self defence classes, but with so many styles of martial arts what should I look for?

Sorting the fake from the real

I’m sure by now you have seen youtube videos of martial arts instructor knocking down multiple people with magic powers right? So prove to me how BJJ is any different.

Three words, Ultimate Fighter Championship (UFC)

Started by the Gracie family, The tournament featured fights with no weight classes, rounds, time-outs, or judges. The two rules, no biting or eye gouging. In this period where martial art styles were in their purest form, you were able to see style vs style. In UFC 1 Royce Gracie defeated a boxer, professional wrestler, and karate champion to win the first UFC all through submissions.

In UFC 2 Royce took victory again defeating a kung fu, judo, and a kickboxer though submission and strikes. Come UFC 4 Royce won again submitting all opponents. In UFC 5 a time limit was introduced resulting in a draw between Royce and Ken Shamrock. This was Royce last fight in the UFC as he seen it turning into a sport.

Over time for UFC fighters to stay competitive, they adopted a mix of styles (MMA) with the following being the most effective

  1. Striking – Muay Thai / Kickboxing
  2. Grappling – BJJ / Wrestling

Types of BJJ Schools

Now before you run off and join your local BJJ gym, you need to understand that over time BJJ has split into two categories, Self Defense and Sports Jiu Jitsu.

Self Defense

BJJ is foremost a self defense based on grappling.  The ability to defend yourself against strikes, obtain a controlled position with the option to escape or submit. These classes are design to simulate real-life scenarios.


While sports Jiu Jitsu originated from self defense and incorporates self defense aspects, it leans towards a points system based with time limits.  Due to striking being disallowed, you’re able to risk vulnerable positions to obtain control or submissions. Overall people prefer sports jiu jitsu due to its creativity, freedom, and variation of moves.

I would recommend a gym that caters for both, while self defense is a necessity it can become repetitive. Finding a nice balance between the both will be the key. Don’t be afraid to ask if it’s not listed on their website.

Take advantage of free trials

If you’re lucky enough to have multiple BJJ gyms within your travel radius, don’t be afraid to take advantages of the free trial before choosing a gym. Gym culture can vary strongly between gyms and instructors teach differently so finding one that meets your needs is important.  Understand once you get hooked, you will spend significate amounts of time and placing trust with the people you train with,  so a healthy environment is important.

What to expect in the first 3 months of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

Stay tuned for the next post on what to expect, until then go have fun and give it a go.

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