No matter how you look at it the only self-defense tool you have at all times is your body. Thanks to martial arts, it means you don’t have to be completely defenseless if caught without any gear. By training in a particular discipline you can turn your body into a weapon. But, before you begin you need to understand which martial arts are the best for self defense.
Not all martial arts are equal.
Self-defense is a countermeasure that involves defending the health and well-being of oneself from harm. It’s important to note the right of self-defense as a legal justification for the use of force in times of danger is available in many jurisdictions.
But the interpretation often varies by state.
Self Defense can be broken down into Physical, Mental, Avoidance, De-escalation and Personal alarms.
Physical self-defense is the use of physical force to counter an immediate threat of violence whether unarmed or armed.
Mental self-defense is the ability to get into the proper mindset for executing a physical self defense technique. If you’re skilled in the physical aspects of self defense but lack the mental fortitude to execute then you won’t be able to perform under pressure.
Self defense also takes on other forms as well.
Avoidance. Being aware of and avoiding potentially dangerous situations is one useful technique of self defense. Attackers will typically select victims they feel they have an advantage against, such as greater physical size, greater numerical size or sobriety vs. intoxication.
De-escalation. Verbal Self Defense, also known as Verbal Judo or Verbal Aikido. This is defined as using one’s words to prevent, de-escalate, or end an attempted assault. It’s a way of using words as weapons or as a shield.
Personal alarms are a way to practice passive self defense. A hand-held device that emits strong, loud, high-pitched sounds to deter attackers because the noise will sometimes draw the attention of passersby.
There are hundreds if not thousands styles of martial arts out there. But we’ve put together a list of the best and worst martial arts for self defense. Being proficient in any one of them can give you confidence to protect yourself.
Jiu-Jitsu is a martial art that can trace its roots back to a battlefield art of the Samurai of Japan. These warriors were armoured and on horseback. Thus Jiu-Jitsu was developed for the samurai to fight if they found themselves disarmed while in combat. Jiu-Jitsu later evolved to include throwing, joint-locks and strangles. Alongside various striking moves found in other combative arts. Jiu-Jitsu focuses on grappling with an emphasis on ground fighting.
Jiu-Jitsu has a variety of core principles that are woven into the fabric of this martial art.
Relax. This is paramount because without the ability to relax you become exhausted quickly and the risk of injury or submission increases.
Position before submission. Another focus of Jiu-Jitsu is movements, specifically bridging and shrimping. These two critical movements will sew together all your moves.
Flavio Canto, Judo Olympian and BJJ black belt, once said ‘Practise movements, not only moves.’ Movements are versatile and can be woven into other techniques.
Escaping bad positions. Another core principle is escaping bad positions. And you will find escaping side mount is one of the most important defensive aspects of any grapplers arsenal.
Engage your hips. Sometimes it won’t always be possible to move your opponent so you need to learn how to engage your hips to move your body. This becomes clear when trying to escape precarious situations like from the bottom of side control. You won’t be strong enough to lift your opponent with your arms so you will need to engage your hips.
An inescapable fact of day-to-day life is that you might end up in a self-defense situation when you least expect it. Rener Gracie says, “It’s an optimistic assumption that your BJJ skills are directly transferable to a self-defense situation, or a real fight,”. Many people learn the “sport” version of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
However, there are many self-defense aspects of the martial art. To remain safe in a self-defense situation, BJJ practitioners look to either keep the attacker far away so they cannot engage or eliminate enough space so there is no room for them to attack. Jiu-Jitsu is great at managing distance and nullifying would be attackers. But it’s important to note that, “Whoever manages the distance, manages the damage that can be done,” Gracie explains.
Boxing is a combat sport that focuses exclusively on throwing punches at your opponent. The earliest evidence of fist-fighting contests date back to the ancient Middle East in the 3rd and 2nd millennia BC. But the earliest rules of boxing date back to Ancient Greece. This is where boxing was established as an Olympic game in 688 BC.
Boxing requires endurance, power, nerve, durability, strength and superb hand-eye coordination.
Boxers work to master stance. The basic stance has the chin tucked into the chest and shoulders hunched. The lead hand is generally kept extended in front of the body while the other hand is tucked near the chin for protection.
Blend offensive and defensive tactics. An effective offense involves throwing punches quickly and placing them strategically to neutralize the opponents guard. Boxing stresses being flexible in your attack to incorporate deceptive tactics like feints and being able to adapt to changing conditions.
Boxing is just as effective as any combat sport that focuses on full power striking, defending against attacks and sparring hard to simulate a fight. Those components make boxing an effective tool for self-defense.
Additionally you learn to:
Muay Thai or Thai boxing is a cultural martial art of Thailand. The origin of Muay Thai dates back several hundred years and was developed as a form of close-combat that leveraged the entire body as a weapon.
Muay Thai uses the body to mimic the weapons of war. The hands become the sword and dagger; the shins and forearms were hardened through training to act as amour against powerful strikes. The elbow was used to fell opponents like a heavy mace or hammer. The legs and knees became the axe and staff. The body operates as a single unit looking for openings while grappling and trying to ground an opponent for the kill.
The fundamentals and principles of Muay Thai are obvious and easy to adhere to but the simplicity of these concepts make it difficult to follow.
A strong defense makes a good offense. You can be the best striker, but without a solid defense, you won’t have a well rounded game. That will put you at a disadvantage and leave your opponent lots of openings to attack. The worst part is you’ll get hit, over and over again.
Dedication. You need constant focused practice in order to improve your skills. If you are dedicated to making your thai kicks powerful, improving your agility and footwork you will succeed in whatever you put your focus and time into.
Technique always beats strength. Sure Muay Thai strives to cultivate knockout power. But without the right technique, chances are you won’t achieve your desired outcome, even with speed and power.
Heart and passion. In Muay Thai you need heart and passion or you will not succeed. Without the will to take punishment in order to come out with a win, you’ll never win. In Muay Thai, you have to appreciate and love the journey that muay thai is taking you through.
Since Muay Thai places an emphasis on close quarter combat and maintaining distance it is valuable for self defense. Muay Thais close quarter combat strikes of elbows and knees are very brutal and can easily incapacitate would be attackers. Also Muay Thai emphasis powerful rounded kicks that are very applicable to self defense scenarios. And since you get ample practice during live sparring rounds it makes for a good martial art for self defense purposes.
Krav Maga is a military self-defense fighting system that was developed for the Israel Defense Forces and Israeli security forces. It is derived from a combination of techniques sourced from boxing, wrestling, Aikido, judo and Karate with realistic fight training incorporated.
It was derived from the fighting experience of Hungarian-Israeli martial artist Imi Lichtenfeld. Lichtenfeld drew on his training as a boxer and wrestler to defend his community on the streets from fascist groups during a period of increased anti semitism. It was from protecting his community with a crew of fellow Jewish boys he acquired hard won experience and the crucial understanding of the differences between sport fighting and street fighting.
Krav Maga has a philosophy of emphasizing aggression. In addition to simultaneous defensive and offensive maneuvers. This philosophy can be summarized by the sentence: “Do whatever is needed to cause as much damage as possible to your attacker and get away safely”. It is as simple and ruthless as it is efficient.
Unlike traditional martial arts, Krav Maga makes no attempt to transform you into spiritually enlightened warrior. It’s sole purpose lies in self defense in street applications.
Krav Maga is amazing at taking untrained individuals and turning them into competent unarmed fighters in a short amount of time. Krav Maga also proves helpful in street scenarios where the assailant is armed and in numbers.
However, there are downsides to Krav Maga. For example, their flashy techniques are scripted and can have unrealistic sparring sessions. Krav Maga has certain “foul tactics”, but are never able to execute them in full-contact sparring. They focus more on no-contact or limited contact which creates a false sense of distance, timing, power and sense of confidence.
The same can be said for weapons disarms. You see them in static training, but never full contact. Still, Krav Maga can be a very effective martial arts for self-defense in a street application.
Buyer beware! It’s important to understand that not all martial arts are created equal. Some emphasis the spiritual side to martial arts while others are more focus on being combat ready.
Aikido can trace its roots back to Japan. Aikido’s founder, Morihei Ueshiba, created the modern art of Aikido by combining his martial arts training in jiu jitsu, fencing, and spear fighting with his religious and political ideologies.
Aikido is rooted in several styles of jujitsu, in particular daitoryu-(aiki)jujitsu, as well as sword and spear fighting arts.
In an essence, Aikido takes the joint locks and throws from jujitsu and combines them with the body movements of sword and spear fighting.
Aikido signifies “The Way of Harmony With the Spirit”, and is rightfully recognized as a peaceful and non-aggressive form of martial arts. Aikido is described as the peaceful martial art.
Aikido Principles: Basic Concepts of the Peaceful Martial Art states that: “It’s defense techniques should be so gentle that also the attacker is delighted. And that there’s no competition, since each participant should be considered a winner.”
1. Aikido is the path that joins all paths of the universe throughout eternity; it is the Universal Mind that contains all things and unifies all things.
2. Aikido is the truth taught by the universe and must be applied to our lives on this earth.
3. Aikido is the principle and the path that join humanity with the Universal Consciousness.
4. Aikido will come to completion when each individual, following his or her true path, becomes one with the universe.
5. Aikido is the path of strength and compassion that leads to the infinite perfection and ever-increasing glory of God.
Aikido is not as effective compared to most other popular martial arts. It has too many weaknesses to be considered an effective martial art for self defense purposes.
Unrealistic attacks. Attacks in Aikido don’t resemble attacks you’d normally see in a self defense situation. A common attack scenario in Aikido training is the wrist grab usually done with one hand. Most attacks won’t involve wrist grabs or continued holding like is practice in Aikido.
Partners are too compliant. Training with fully compliant partners give you a false sense of confidence in your abilities and doesn’t prepare you for a self-defense situation. You will have to deal with opponents who resists everything you do and doesn’t throw himself into your throws.
Training partners don’t go “live” – no actual sparring. Most training partners in Aikido are trained to act more robotic and static. They drill the technique and simply stop. It’s predictable and you know what’s coming.
No practical ground-fighting or practical striking.
Kung Fu, is an ancient martial arts with strong roots in China. Originating from the hunting and defense needs in the primitive society that included basic skills like cleaving, chopping, and stabbing.
Later it developed into a the fighting skills from the Xia Dynasty (21st – 17th century BC)to the Yuan Dynasty (1271 – 1368) and reached its peak during the Ming and Qing Dynasties (1368 – 1911).
Chinese Kung Fu started to form during the slavery society (around 11th century BC – 403 BC). Under the Xia Dynasty, it developed to be a more practical martial art and better served battles.
The concept of Kung Fu revolves around three basic principles motivation, self-discipline and time.
Motivation is the fundamental driving force. According to experts, the real motivation behind learning Kung Fu is inspiration and not force. This is said to come from an inner craving to learn and develop the mind and body.
Self-discipline is complementary to motivation. Discipline puts motivation into deed and action. A learner has to make an effort into what he has been motivated for, and self-discipline helps him get started and guides him to achieve that goal.
Time is the path to perfection. Once motivation and self-discipline have sent in, the student has to commit a significant amount of time putting mind and body into practice.
Kung fu looks good in dojos because students are compliant. However, a lot of their techniques won’t work against a fully resisting attacker. They also have outdated forms of training. They rely on techniques and training that may have worked in the past but aren’t applicable to many altercations that take place today.
In its modern form, karate is less than 200 years old. However, this martial art has roots that date back thousands of years.
The art first originated in Okinawa and its early form was influenced by ancient Chinese martial arts systems known as Kung Fu. The earliest surviving evidence of karate in Okinawa was a mention of the word Tode (Okinawan name for art) in the late 1700s.
This was a reference to a martial arts trainer from China who taught a form of kung fu and is believed to have introduced the first version of the Shotokan kata kanku dai.
From there karate began as a common fighting system among the Pechin class of the Ryukyuans. Each area and its teachers had particular kata, techniques, and principles that distinguished their local region.
Gichin Funakoshi (1868 – 1957), known as the father of karate, once said “the ultimate aim of karate lies not in victory nor defeat, but in the perfection of the character of its participants.” The father of karate, would go on to stress spiritual considerations and mental agility over brute strength and technique.
Karate practitioners should not rely alone on striking, kicking, blocking, but should focus on the spiritual aspects of their practice.
When it comes to self-defense there are far better choices of martial arts available.
Karate is a great martial art when used in combination with other disciplines. However, more traditional techniques and ways of training haven’t been modernized. While karate is one of the most popular martial arts it’s been watered down. Now it’s not too uncommon to get your black belt in 6 months if you look hard enough.
Expert martial artists, retired Navy Seal and current UFC Fighter weigh in to give their opinions on the best martial arts for self defense.
Ryan Hall is a BJJ black belt and a professional mixed martial artist currently competing in the featherweight division of the UFC.
Ryan Hall goes on to give some insight into what he believes is the best martial arts for self defense against untrained assailants.
The first thing he mentions is that the best weapon is using your mind. He then goes on to state that the average person can’t fight and can become scared. And depending on your surroundings, environment and the number of assailants your approach will alter. Therefor your mental awareness is your most important weapon in self defense scenarios. Situational awareness is key to understanding what’s around you.
Ryan Hall then goes on to say the best thing for defending yourself in real life is probably Jiu-Jitsu or Wrestling. The reason for this is anyone can get lucky throwing a punch and hurting someone in a self defense situation.
However, unless someone is experienced with grappling they won’t be able to engage in any ground fighting. In general, the average person can’t wrestle.
Black Scout Survival is a lifestyle – to be prepared for any situation no matter the environment. SCOUT is an acronym that encompasses their ideology (Survival Concepts in Outdoor and Urban Terrain). BlackScout Survival is a Veteran owned company and their products come from Veteran owned manufacturing.
Blackscout says that it isn’t soley about learning a particular martial art for self defense. But they stress physical fitness as a key to self defense. But first and foremost getting a concealed carry. They go on to say it’s not simply enough to go to the range and shoot static targets but take tactical marksmanship training.
Blackscout recommends a good ground game and Jiu-Jitsu for self defense but also acknowledges not all self defense situations should go to the ground. They recommend Jiu-Jitsu up to blue belt along with other striking based martial arts. They recommend Boxing and Muay Thai for self defense purposes.
All in all they recommend staying in shape and be open-minded when it comes to self defense.
Ramsey Dewey is a former professional fighter with a record of 3 wins and 4 losses. In 2009, he moved to China and started teaching MMA in Shanghai as well as competing across China, Mongolia and Singapore. He has over 20 years of martial arts competition experience including combat sports like: MMA, Muay Thai, BJJ, K-1 Kickboxing, Karate, Catch-Wrestling and more.
Ramsey recommends trying a variety of martial arts training for self defense. He then goes on to say it’s not so much about the style as it is about the gym or facility, training partners and instructors. Remember not all martial arts gyms are good.
Ramsey says a lot of Krav Maga schools suck. Not all but a lot tend to suck because they are more focused with upselling rather than training to win fights.
It’s important to learn how to fight first before going into more esoteric martial arts.
Dave Ramsey Key Points when Fighting for Self Defense
Jocko Willink is an author and a retired United States Navy Seal with numerous awards and service medals to his name. He was a commander of Seal Team Three’s Task Unit Bruiser during the Battle of Ramadi. Willinik served eight years on active duty and was part of the SEAL team that seized Russian Tanker Volga-Neft-147 in the Gulf of Oman which was carrying Iraqi oil in violation of a U.N. economic embargo.
Jocko says when it comes to self defense a gun along with a concealed carry trumps everything else. He also recommends going to the range and taking tactical training. The important thing to remember is in a self defense situation other people will have guns, knives and can possibly be psychotic and or on drugs.
When it comes to martial arts training for self defense Jocko recommends starting off with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He believes it’s important to learn how to handle yourself if you encounter a grappling scenario if you fall onto the ground.
Next, he recommends western boxing to learn how to punch properly and maintain proper striking distance.
From there, he recommends learning Muay Thai for self defense purposes for its close quarters striking, clench work and maintaining striking distance.
Finally, he believes integrating some amount of wrestling to learn how to execute takedowns and avoid ending up on the ground in a self defense situation.
Basically, there isn’t a magical instructor to allow you to defeat multiple attackers. But Krav Maga touches on it and is probably better as an augmentation.
We recommend you start with a base in Jiu-Jitsu and branch into other martial arts like Boxing, Muay Thai and incorporate Wrestling into your arsenal. Find a martial arts gym to get started today.
Buyer Beware of Bullshit Martial Arts
Sure it’s not an easy journey but jiu-jitsu often times changes its practitioners mind, body and spirit for the better. Often times beginners find themselves on a mat in a new and unique environment, surrounded by guys and girls wearing heavy gis. It’s not uncommon to feel self-conscious, overwhelmed and even want to run away immediately.
It’s only natural to be initially intimidated. It can seem daunting at first. After all, It is a martial art. However, more often than not jiu-jitsu practitioners are quick to welcome on newcomers who are respectful and eager to learn into their ranks. In addition to a myriad of mental and physiology benefits, training in jiu-jitsu offers immense physical benefits.
Looking in from the outside jiu-jitsu appears to be easy. But this thought quickly vanishes when a person steps on the mat and rolls for the first time. It’s normal for new students to even struggle through warm-ups in the beginning.
The reason for the increased difficulty is jiu-jitsu is neither an aerobic or anaerobic exercise.
Some coaches feel grappling may be more aerobic, while others are convinced it skews more anaerobic. The truth is it’s a hybrid mix. We can look to the typical five to seven minute sparring session to help solidify this concept.
For example, have you ever tried to sprint or bike at a high clip for over five minutes? It’s almost impossible. This same rule applies to jiu-jitsu. You can only grapple at a high output for short bursts before you slowly begin to fade. Your anaerobic system makes use of fast twitch muscle fibers as jumping and sprinting. Sometimes you will need to engage your anaerobic system, whether you’re ‘sprinting’ to scramble from a bad position or avoid a submission. However, other times you will rely on your aerobic system.
The aerobic system is the most commonly used in jiu-jitsu. It provides energy for low intensity activities that last anywhere from two minutes to a few hours. Your aerobic system will be activated during warm-up, training and even during sparring sessions as you cycle between the two.
Even people who maintain a diligent cardio regime still struggle in jiu-jitsu. While running on a treadmill or jumping on a bike are great exercises they aren’t equivalent to grappling. When you do any sort of cardio on your own you dictate the pace. However, while sparring in class you’re forced to react on someone else’s terms. Either you are setting the pace or you’re on the defensive reacting to your opponent’s movements and playing catch up.
Sparring also known as ‘rolling’ is a hybrid workout of cardio and weight training simultaneously. It doesn’t matter how good you are your opponent’s body is constantly acting like resistance. Whether you’re trying to make space from your opponent or stand up in someone’s guard. Your opponent’s body weight is the resistance. In truth, jiu-jitsu is a form of resistance training.
Finally, most people are lacking in one area. People tend to stick to what they are good at. For example, if I prefer strength training, then all I will want to do is lift weights rather than long distance running. However, when the time comes to sprint, I am going to come up short. On the other hand, jiu-jitsu makes use of both the aerobic and anaerobic systems giving a more balanced workout.
The Structure of a BJJ Class Promotes Weight Loss
The structure of a BJJ class is a such that you get a chance to work out your entire body in both an aerobic and anaerobic exercise.
The Warm Ups
Every teacher and gym is slightly different. Some coaches warm-up light while others start class with a heavy conditioning session. Typically, all jiu-jitsu classes start with a group warm-ups such as running laps, doing push-ups, crunches and a few additional training drills like forward and backward breakfalls and shrimping.
While classes differ slightly in their approach to warming up the goal is to engage your muscles and joints to prevent injury later on. These exercises will mimic jiu-jitsu specific movements and help you break a sweat.
After warm-ups, it’s time to learn and drill. During this time you get partnered up with a more skill jiu-jitsu practitioner and begin going over the lesson for the day. It’s during this time the instructor shows new techniques and you practice them with your partner. During drilling and learning new techniques you are actively engaging your body in a manner that offers a low intensity total body workout.
Typically, jiu-jitsu stresses ‘position before submission’:
Position = relative positioning of your body compared to your opponents.
Submission = an action that causes your opponent to surrender, ‘armbar’, ‘choke’, ‘ankle lock’ etc.
The Sparring Session
During the final section of the class you will get the opportunity to do some free rolling / sparring. This serves as a time to implement what you have learned during class and offers a serious workout. Generally after your first several lessons you won’t know enough to submit people but it is a great time to implement items you’ve trained in class.
Sparring in jiu-jitsu offers a chance to go live with techniques but also offers a serious workout. Some schools start with timed rounds, but also allow you to continue sparring with no time limits after class.
Jiu-jitsu offers immense benefits for your cardio, strength and overall health in general. It’s a physically demanding martial art that pushes your heart and lungs beyond the point where you would normally stop. This allows you to break through your physical plateaus. Also, sense jiu-jitsu is a grappling based martial art the risk for injury is generally lower than other martial arts.
Jiu-jitsu is a sport that is well-loved by many, and all around the world, people have been trading in their gym attires and running shoes for brand new belts and gis. Many people have dedicated a serious amount of time to the sport, in the hopes of becoming better at jiu-jitsu so they can be like their idols.
But what every jiu-jitsu practitioner needs to understand is that their progress in the sport is just as dependent on their methods of learning as it is on their drive and dedication. So here are some tips for both on the mats and off the mats, that have helped countless people get better at Brazilian jiu-jitsu, try them out for yourself!
First and foremost, you need to know who to train with. You may have all the potential in the world but you could get stuck in a rut just because you don’t know how to pick your training partners properly. This doesn’t mean ditch everyone who is lower ranking than you, or keep away from senior teammates who dominate you.
The key here is balance. You need to have a sample of everything. It’s important to have a coach or senior ranking teammates who are better than you, to guide you and to show you what holes you have in your game. It’s also important to train with people who you think you can dominate in turn, in order to practice new moves on them and polish your technique.
And lastly, you need to train with people who are on the same skill level as you, people who you can beat sometimes, but who beat you sometimes too. This is to give room for your technique to grow, and to give you an accurate gauge for your progress on the mats.
We can all agree that the technicality of jiu-jitsu can sometimes be a little overwhelming. We’ve all probably experienced spacing out in the middle of an instructor’s lesson because of the sheer details involved in a move. One way to learn it faster and imprint it in your brain is not to memorize how it’s done, but the reasons behind all the little actions.
The next time your instructor teaches, don’t just memorize the series of steps and what it looks like—pay attention to exactly why he places his arm on that specific portion of the hip or why he chose that succession of steps.
Sometimes one might think that taking notes is a little dorky for this macho sport, but you’d be surprised how many black belts actually have a notebook where they organize their thoughts and moves. No one has a photographic memory and there just comes a point when there are simply too many moves to remember off the top of your head.
After every lesson, don’t forget to take down the important steps of each move. It serves as a review, and this way when you want to revisit the moves at a later time you won’t miss out on any of the minor details. If your instructor allows you to, you could even take a video and study it in greater detail whenever you want.
Many jiu-jitsu practitioners have also found making flowcharts of their strategies helpful. With this flowchart, they list down all the different moves that they could do if they’re in a certain position, and all the moves that lead from there, and so on. This helps them organize their game in their heads instead of having a blank mind on the mats.
The more drills you do, the better. This isn’t just to make you stronger or give you more cardio, it is also so the move can be remembered by your body. Make it a point to diligently do drills for every move you want to incorporate into your jiu-jitsu game, that way when your body recognizes a familiar position, it won’t think twice to fire out the next steps without you having to consciously remember them.
Remember, rolling is practice. It isn’t a place where you could show off or hold yourself back because you are too nervous. It’s there so you can watch yourself in different scenarios and it serves as a safe place to test out your strategies for competitions. Every roll is gold, and therefore every roll should have a goal.
You can tell yourself that for the next 6 minutes your goal is to practice the kimura from different situations, or you could tell yourself that this time your goal is to submit someone within the first minute. Whatever it is, setting a goal provides direction and prevents you from wasting your mat time.
Seeing your match from a phone or video camera is infinitely different from seeing it while you’re actually playing. When you see yourself play from an objective view, all the little things you never noticed on the mats are just as clear as day on the screen.
You’ll be surprised how often you’ll say things like “Oh I should have swept him there” or “I could have taken her arm at this point” or even “My base is just too unstable, I really need to work on that”. Having a video of yourself rolling or competing can allow you to dissect your game point by point, and show you what you need to work on to get better quickly.
Your seniors are there for a reason, and asking someone a question will be a much faster way of learning than trying to figure it out on your own. You can ask questions for clarification of a move your instructor is teaching, you can ask questions after rolling and realizing you don’t know what to do when you’re caught in a certain position, or you can ask questions if you’re just wondering what to drill to generally improve your game. The possibilities are endless.
This could be one of the most important tips for you to improve your jiu-jitsu. If all you do is train and do drills, you are leaving a huge aspect of jiu-jitsu out of your life and just plain missing out on a great experience. Training for a competition is different from everyday casual learning because it allows you to really put your skills to the test, right when you’re at your one hundred percent.
You get to face people of the same skill level as you but from different backgrounds. You are exposed to so many different players in competitions and that diversity is simply not present in just one gym. This allows you to really polish your skills and serves as a good way of evaluating your progress.
You don’t want to be the guy at the tournament who thinks he’s a much better grappler than he really is. So ask your coaches if you’re ready for your first BJJ tournament. Some gyms encourage competition for students early on with as little as one month of training. Others prefer students train for several months and showcase skill in the gym before competing. And certain gyms aren’t even competition focused.
It’s important to first ask your coaches to assess your skill prior to any competitions. Because ultimately, you’re representing your school and coach when you’re competing.
For your first tournament, you need to assess your current weight. After doing so, you’ll be able to determine the weight you can best compete in. Your weight should be guaranteed, so that you can focus more on your game plan. The point of your competing weight reflecting your current weight is so that you can avoid cutting too much too fast. Consequently, you don’t want to suffer a loss because of poorly executed weight management.
Once you have your desired competition weight selected, you can begin assessing your current shape before looking at tournaments. This will help you better decide the conditioning that you will need in preparation for the tournament.
First, you need to decide whether you want to compete in a points jiu-jitsu tournament or a submission only style tournament. From there you need to determine which tournament to make your debut. There are some very solid organized tournaments run by groups like NAGA, IBJJF, NABJJF, US Grappling and more. Entry fees generally range from $70 to $130 to enter a single elimination tournament.
Also, you can always check with your coaches to see if there are any upcoming tournaments that they think might be a good fit.
When creating your game plan, it is best to ask yourself what you are great at, where you need the most improvement and the type of opponents you may face. In doing so, you can better plan your success. You can break it down by attacks, defensive techniques, and your escapes. It is best to plan for top, bottom, and escapes. In doing so, you can keep it simple, which is especially helpful if you are a beginner. Your plan of action should include your takedowns, guards, guard breaks, passes, submissions, and how you plan to get in and out of positions. You can also include drills to determine how you will react to takedowns. Finally, you should outline all escapes or any situations you haven’t covered.
Aim to drill at least two takedowns, and drill sprawling to avoid common takedowns, like the ankle pick. Through drills and training, you can commit your game plan to muscle memory. Preparing for the BJJ Tournament As you grow closer to your tournament day, double and triple check your weight, game plan, and every aspect of your BJJ practice. Continue to drill and spar up until two days before the tournament to ensure maximum gains, but still adequate rest. If you do any move 1000 times, you will always notice an increase in its effectiveness. It is best to also use this time to focus on any areas you feel are especially weak.
The night before the tournament, you should be fully prepared mentally and physically. BJJ tournaments are physically and mentally demanding for beginners and veterans alike. Decide if you want to use Gi gear, remember to bring your belt, pack sweatpants to stay warm and comfortable, and you can bring any source of music as well. As far as nutrition goes, for snacks, you should pack light. Therefore, the best suggestions would be bananas, protein bars or shakes, almonds, honey sticks, and coconut water. It is best to eat light during the tournament itself. Though it is optional, you can also bring a friend and pack a camera.
Clear your mind the night and morning prior to your tournament. You can do this through a movie, by reading, or even by hanging out with friends and family. Whatever it is you need to do to clear your mind, do so because a clouded mind could be your biggest disadvantage.
The day of the tournament has come. Make sure to eat a good size breakfast because you will need fuel. You won’t always know exactly when you will have a chance to refuel again. Take the time to relax and visualize before your match. This will help you effectively warm up mentally before attempting to warm up physically.
Warming up properly will help you avoid injuries. It is suggested that you use foam rolling, Hindi squats, dive bomber pushups, sprawls, and partner drills as methods of warming up. Ensure that you recover properly between your matches by focusing on your hydration and breathing. Avoid making any drastic changes during the tournament.
Tournament training is invaluable. You will either win or lose, but regardless you will learn and improve in your BJJ practice.
Krav maga is a self-defense oriented martial art. It was developed as a means of self-defense for those Europeans concerned with anti-Semitic extremism. It is currently used by the Israel Defense Forces.
The underlying goal of Aikido is to protect your self while mitigating injury to your assailant.
Krav Maga is intended for self-protection and isn’t sport oriented. The overall strategy is to prevent injury, practice dignity while defending yourself. Their belief is to do whatever is needed to cause as much damage as possible to your attacker and get away safely. It is simple, ruthless and efficient. Krav Maga looks primal in nature and aggressive.
Both disciplines have a self-defense aspect to them. Gracie Jiu-Jitsu or GJJ places a heavier emphasis on self-defense than more sport oriented Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. The self-defense portion utilizes ground fighting techniques but also incorporates weapons training, closing distance to clinch, takedowns and powerful strikes.
However, this is where the similarities end.
Krav Maga is an eclectic system that takes useful elements from existing martial arts. Most notably it incorporates:
Strikes – similar to Karate and Boxing
Take-downs / Throws – like Judo, Aikido, and Wrestling
Ground Fighting – similar to Judo and Wrestling
Along with this, Jiu Jitsu usually incorporates a gi while Krav usually doesn’t have a unified uniform.
While Jiu-Jitsu and other martial arts may have certain etiquette in terms of their strikes Krav Maga focuses on self-preservation. So, they permit and train in groin strikes, eye pokes etc. The style is centered around survival and their techniques are a means to an end.
Many Krav Maga organizations do not support a competition component. Their belief is that Krav Maga is not a sport. They maintain a belief that sports operate under principles of using safe techniques, doing minimal harm and wearing down opponents using tactics supported by the “rules” of safe competition.
Their belief is that Krav Maga techniques do maximum harm and significant damage and therefore is not suitable for competition purposes. They may have never seen a high-level MMA fight.
While Krav Maga works in self-defense situations against Jiu-Jitsu the Krav Maga specialist would be like a fish out of water.
The Jiu-Jitsu fighter would close distance to clinch or initiate a takedown and establish side control or mount. A high-level BJJ practitioner would soften the Krav Maga fighter up with strikes from the top position until they exposed themselves and set in a quick submission.
Aikido is a traditional Japanese martial art developed by Morihei Ueshiba. Aikido is oftentimes translated as “the way of unifying life energy” or as “the way if harmonious spirit”.
The underlying goal of Aikido is to protect your self while mitigating injury to your assailiant.
The word Aikido itself holds clues into this martial arts basic philosophy.
Ai – joining, unifying, combining, fitting
Ki – spirit, energy, mood, morale
do – way, path
From a literal interpretation, Aikido means the “Way of combining forces”.
Aikido like Jiu-Jitsu is a grappling heavy martial arts that places a heavy emphasis on safetly subduing your attacker. Both martial arts pursue controlled relaxation, fluid movement of joints like your hips and shoulders and relies on endurance and flexibility.
Also, like jiu-jitsu there are a lot of basic circular movements. Both martial arts believe in harmony, rather than confrontation. Aikido take an aggressive linear attack and converts it into a circular motion that neutralizes the attacker.
Aikido techniques are practiced as a self defense from a linear attack.
Unlike jiu-jitsu Aikido training is centered around partners rehearsing a set of pre-arranged forms rather than sparring or any freestyle type practice.
The other major difference between the two martial arts is Aikido is not a competitive art form. Jiu-jitsu can be used in competition and as a result has continue to grow in relevance. Whereas Aikido isn’t and testing your skill set against a resiting opponent is difficult.
Common Basic Attacks:
Front of the head strike – consist of a vertical knifehand strike to the head.
Side of the head strike – a diagonal knifehand strike to the side of the head or neck
Chest thrust – a punch to the torso
Face thrust – a punch to the face
While Aikido is centered around reacting to strikes jiu-jitsu offers a bit more offense to the martial arts practioner. Traditional jiu-jitsu has some basic strikes along with an emphasis on taking the fight to the ground and utilizing pressure or attaining a dominant position to set up submissions.
Jiu-jitsu has several submissions which can be used both offensively and defensively like joint locks, heel hooks, chokes and strangles.
Its fairly safe to say people question Aikidos effectiveness both in a self defense situation and a sport combat application. I’m sure you’ve been on youtube recently and have seen the Aikido guy trying to spar with MMA fighters. It hasn’t gone so well for him.
However, jiu-jitsu’s effectiveness has been proven time and time again. For example, the gracie challenge was an open invitation issued by members of the famous Brazilian Gracie family known for their jiu jitsu mastery. It stated to all other martial artist of various style to fight them in a vale tudo match. They did this to solidify the effectiveness of Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
No one in the Aikido discipline has ever been able to do this. Nor any other traditional martial art.
Originally went Aikido arrived it Europe it had two colored belts White and Black. But it was difficult to implement.
In many Western Aikido schools the belt system is similar to this structure:
6th kyu – white
5th kyu – yellow
4th kyu – orange
3rd kyu – blue
2nd kyu – brown
1st dan – black
2nd dan – black with thin gold stripe
3rd dan – black with red stripe
Aikido works in the gym when both parties are cooperating and can help in some self defense applications. However, as a combat sport it is not effective.
Aikido is a modern japanese martial art developed by Morihei Ueshiba as a result of his philosophy studies, religious belieffs and culmination of his total martial arts studies. Aikido focuses on: irmi (entering), and tenkan (turning) movements.
Karate is an asian martial arts systems that emphasizes the hands and feet to deliver strikes. This martial art physical aspects seek the developmetn of defensive and counterattacking body movements. The overall theme of karate is you never attack first. This martial art is centered around fighting and self defense.
Karate was developed within the Ryukyu Kingdom and was influenced by Chinese Kung Fu. Karate is predominantly a striking discipline focused on ounches, kicks, knee strikes, elbow and open hand attacks. Today there are four styles of karate in Japan: Shotokan, Goju-ryu, Shito-ryu, and Wado-ryu.
Karate is centered around cultivating a calm temperament and self control with mutual respect to your opponent. This is evident by the arts belief in,: “There is no first attack in Karate.”
While jiu-jitsu is primarily a ground based martial art it does have some basic strikes as well. Both diciplines utilize strikes for self-defense situations.
Both disciplines embrace similar philosophys. Jiu-jitsu places an emphasis on humility, honesty and respect. Karate also promotes being humble and open to Karate’s many lessons and being open to criticism.
Sure while there are some basic strikes in jiu-jtisu it is primarily a grappling martial arts. Karate focuses more on striking through teaching katas or forms. The kata is a formalized sequence of movements which represent various offensive and defensive postures. However, these postures and katas are based on idealized combat situations.
In Karate they call there sparring sessions, a “meeting of hands” or Kumite. It varies by school and focus there is everything from full contact karate which resembles kickboxing like K1. Then there is light contact like the World Karate Federation.
In karate, it takes a typical adult student who attends class two times per week to earn a black belt in five years. Contrast that with jiu-jitsu at five years you would just be eligible to test for your brown belt. In rare instances, Karate gyms have been known to give out a black belt in as little as 3 years.
Karate practicioners train a series of open hand and closed fist strikes. Common strikes learned are:
Haishu uchi – Back hand strike
Haito uchi – Ridge (back of sword) hand strike
Ipon ken – forefinger knuckle strike
Ipon nukite ken – first finger spear strike
Kai ko ken – open fist strike
Kakuto – head of the crane / goose neck strike
Ko koo – tiger’s mouth strike
Kuma de – bear hand strike
Keito – head of the hen strike
Nakadaka ipon ken – middle finger knuckle strike
Nihon nukite – two finger spear strike
Nukite – Spear hand strike
Seiken – clenched fist strike
Shuto uchi – Knife (sword) hand strike
Teisho uchi – Palm heel strike
Tetsu tsui – [iron] hammer fist
Uraken uchi – Back fist strike
Washi de – eagle’s beak strike
Wan to – sword arm strike
Contrast this with jiu-jitsu and there are basic self defense that are utilized for setting up takedowns and to really implement a strong bjj game.
Originally went Aikido arrived it Europe it had two colored belts White and Black. But it was difficult to implement.
In many Western Aikido schools the belt system is similar to this structure:
6th kyu – white
5th kyu – yellow
4th kyu – orange
3rd kyu – blue
2nd kyu – brown
1st dan – black
2nd dan – black with thin gold stripe
3rd dan – black with red stripe
Going back to the Gracie challenge BJJ would win over Karate. While certain forms or variations of Karate would be effective in self defense situations it isn’t enough against BJJ.
While Karate focuses on the striking aspect Jiu-Jitsu practitioners work to take the fight to the ground to gain an advantage. The jiu-jitsu fighter would move in quickly to close distance and set up a takedown. The BJJ fighter would quickly establish a dominate position once on the ground and would soften the Karate fighter up with strikes. From there its only a matter of time before they are easily submitted.
No Gi and Gi are both 2 forms of Jiu-Jitsu. While some may refer to No-Gi jiu-jitsu as wrestling nevertheless No Gi is still a form of jiu-jitsu. We believe that to become a well-rounded BJJ player you need to train in both. Gi jiu-jitsu is a great way to build a strong base and work on your technical abilities and defense. Whereas No Gi helps you refine your submission and finishing skills.
In No Gi BJJ the pace is faster pace due to the lack of friction from the kimono. Also, due to the lack of added grip from the Gi the submissions are a bit different. No Gi BJJ players prioritize taking the back over gaining the mount position due to limited submission options. While there are fewer submissions in mount No Gi opens up a lot more options for guillotines, darce chokes, and various foot locks.
While in Gi Jiu-Jitsu the sleeves, collar, and pants provide opportunities to gain and control position. Also, the added fabric opens up various submission opportunities as well. As you may have figured Gi Jiu-Jitsu is pretty slowed down. While Gi Jiu-Jitsu rewards those who prioritize technique and tactical thinking. The jacket becomes a weapon in the Gi. The most common jacket grip is the sleeve or the collar. It becomes easy to get arm control, arm drags, armbars and much more. The grips offer additional leverage to control the fight and submit your opponent by using their jacket against them.
When deciding what type of Jiu-Jitsu game you want to purse remember not to limit yourself. There is something to be learned from training in No-Gi Jiu-Jitsu or Gi Jiu-Jitsu. To be a complete BJJ player, you should train in both.
Which do you prefer?
Combat Jiu-Jitsu is submission grappling that allows open-handed strikes to opponents once the action hits the ground. Combat jiu-jitsu is pitched as a league of professional grappling. Combat jiu-jitsu adds an added element of danger to grappling matches thanks to the introduction of strikes. But it’s a place where grapplers hone their top-game and ground-and-pound skills. And allows for jiu-jitsu to be applied to a more combat oriented environment without the concern of boxing or kickboxing.
Combat Jiu-jitsu is Eddie Bravo’s brainchild. We got an early indication of what he was planning when he dropped hints on the Joe Rogan podcast last year.
Bravo mentioned: “It gets you ready for MMA better than grappling, that’s for sure” “And also there’s a lot of jiu-jitsu guys out there who are awesome that will never do MMA, they don’t want to learn Muay Thai, and this could be their professional sport. This could be the final frontier. I would think 90 percent of jiu-jitsu fans out there would rather see Marcelo Garcia and Xande Ribiero going at it with punches than just straight grappling.”
The common consensus is that combat jiu-jitsu could place BJJ in a larger spotlight and work to spread jiu-jitsu’s popularity. Combat jiu-jitsu aka CJJ has been pitched by Eddie Bravo as being a bit more attractive than pure BJJ tournaments. It’s going to help prepare jiu-jitsu guys for MMA and potentially evolve the sport.
However, to really draw out bigger names they will have to put up purses and they aren’t quite in a position to do that yet.
The Eddie Bravo Invitational (EBI) is a 16-man tournament that features submission-only grappling. For EBI 11 combat jiu-jitsu was introduced. The EBI tournament features a $20,000 take home prize and is designed or the fans.
Some People are Taking Combat Jiu-Jitsu To Another Level
Flexibility is a powerful tool to have in your arsenal for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Some people are born more flexible than others but fortunately, we can all practice and improve our flexibility. It’s always a good idea to work on your stretches after a light warm up before you begin training.
Think of flexibility like strength training. While working out and being incredibly strong isn’t necessary for BJJ it certainly helps level up your game. Flexibility training is very similar to strength training, it won’t make or break your game but it will certainly give you an edge.
This stretch targets your groin and hip region. This is a great beginner stretch that isn’t too difficult. Sit on the ground, straighten your legs out and remember to straighten your spine for proper posture. While you grab and hold your ankles slowly press your knees downwards with your elbows.
Lying Spinal Stretch
This stretch will give your spine more flexibility and make you more limber. Start out by lying on your back with your arms stretched out to your left and right side. Left your legs to the sky, fold it over to the right side of your body. This stretch will aide in your spinal flexibility and will come in handy when people try to stack you while they are on your guard.
This is a counter pose to a forward bend. The bridge is a good beginner’s yoga stretch that helps you build additional flexibility in your back. Lie down on your back and place your feet shoulder-width apart. Press firmly on to your feet and lift your butt off the ground. Interlace your hands together press the fists down to the floor. This stretch also helps improve your bridging during rolling sessions.
Leg Cradle Stretch
Lower back injuries and pain are very common in jiu-jitsu fighters. The leg cradle stretch is great for stretching out your lower back. Perform this stretch laying down on your back, straighten out your legs and slowly lift your knee and grab it. Gently pull your left knee to your chest and hold steady for about a minute then return it to the starting position.
Standing and Reaching Hamstring Stretch
Stand up tall and bend forwards from the hips, reaching for your toes with your hands. The goal is to keep your legs straight and your back as flat as possible. Don’t worry if you can’t reach your feet with your hands just rest them as far down on your legs as possible.
While improving your flexibility won’t win you any tournaments it will make your jiu-jitsu game stronger. Integrate these stretches into your training regime and you will notice improvements over time!