Brazilian Jiu Jitsu literally caused a worldwide martial arts revolution over the past two decades. When the UFC brought MMA to mainstream popularity, it did so almost completely because of the effectiveness of BJJ practitioner, Royce Gracie. Of course, other BJJ experts soon joined in the fray, and it wasn’t too long before no-holds-barred fighting competitions and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu were forever intertwined in the minds of the general public.
As effective as BJJ proved to be in competitive fighting, however, there have always been detractors who say that this martial art will not work on the streets. These folks believe that grappling arts certainly have their place in the world, but that bar room brawls and real world self defense scenarios are better served by more aggressive, striking-based martial arts.
Is it true? Does BJJ work in a street fight? Or will all that BJJ training do next to nothing if you find yourself in a street fight? Let’s take a look at some of the facts about some of the most common street fighting scenarios and see whether or not a competent BJJ practitioner would be able to come out on top in these types of scenarios.
Does BJJ Work In A Street Fight?
Confrontations with Bullies & Idiots
In our estimation, the majority of street fights start because a bully or drunken idiot is out throwing his weight around. You’ve probably found yourself in a bar, club or restaurant before and seen what these guys get up to. Someone bumps into them and they want to have a throwdown in the parking lot.
So would a BJJ practitioner be able to deal with these kinds of clowns? Absolutely! The real question to consider is whether or not these guys are worth the time, and potential trouble that they may cause for you. As a BJJ student you should know very well that you should avoid engaging in combat with someone like this. Your best way to win in these scenarios is to keep your BJJ on hold and simply find a way to walk away without ever coming to blows.
Now, there may come a time, though, when simply walking away is not an option. If you’ve tried to walk away from one of these types of confrontational jerks. Some of them will take things to the next level. And that is when you may have to use your BJJ.
And this is where the effectiveness of BJJ on the streets really shines through. A karate fighter or boxer may simply bust one of these bullies in the nose or possibly strike multiple times to cause injury to their opponent.
A BJJ practitioner, though, has more options than a striking-based fighter. Instead of causing immediate, and perhaps deadly injury, a Jiu Jitsu practitioner can easily lock on a submission hold to get their opponent under control. It is very surprising to see how quickly a big, tough bully loses all his bravado when he is locked into an arm bar or neck crank submission hold.
However, there will be some times when the submission hold mentality will not suffice. Some people just don’t know when to back down. If a BJJ practitioner has an opponent locked in a pain-based submission hold, but the instigator will not stop fighting, what is the next logical option?
This is a question that has to be answered differently in every scenario. No two confrontations are the same… You have to assess the situation quickly and decide how much of a threat your opponent presents. If you fear serious injury or for your life, you can take the intensity of your submission hold up a few notches. Remember, that a joint locking hold can quickly transition into a joint breaking hold with just a bit more pressure.
And if you are really desperate and fear for your life, a quick transition into a choke hold, where you can put your opponent to sleep, is a nice way to decisively end a street confrontation. As a trained BJJ fighter, you know to quickly take control of your opponent and you know that once you are in control, you can decide how nice or nasty you want to be.
Attacks on the Street
So far we’ve talked only about BJJ in a “push comes to shove” type of street fight. And we’ve seen that most BJJ practitioners should be able to easily take control of these situations and defend themselves successfully. But what about more serious attacks? Muggings, rapes, and batteries happen every day. Does BJJ provide adequate defense against these more deadly types of street assaults?
Again… absolutely! The same basic principles that we’ve already talked about apply to these situations too. The bottom line is getting out of the situation alive. When possible, we suggest fleeing. It’s never fun to have to run away, but an unprovoked attack on the street is potentially deadly and during an attack it is no time to worry about your pride. If it is possible, run away and keep running until you are out of harm’s way. This applies to practitioners of any martial art. If there is a clear and present risk of life or limb, it is far better to get out of the situation as fast as you can.
If you cannot get away, it’s time to put your BJJ into overdrive. A mugger does not deserve the option to tap out or say “I quit!” Avoid injury, initiate your offensive attack and lock in a submission hold with extreme power. This is definitely one of those times when you would opt for a submission that either causes injury to a limb or a choke that takes him down for the count.
Hopefully, the discussion of these types of street fighting scenarios proves that BJJ can work as well, if not better, on the street than most other martial arts. For less serious threats, BJJ practitioners have the option to start off with a more gentle approach, and can escalate if they need to. And for more serious scenarios, it is very easy to turn joint locks and cranks into brutal, fight ending holds, with just a bit more speed and power thrown into the equation.
The bottom line is that a BJJ practitioner simply has more options than most other martial artists, when it comes to street fighting scenarios. And since a BJJ practitioner can choose to strike, in addition to applying strict Jiu Jitsu submissions, they have a fighting arsenal that is much more complete than most people are willing to give them credit for.
Remember the old saying, though: “When two tigers fight, one is injured and one is killed.” No one wins in a street fight, so do your best to avoid them when it is possible. And this is advice that practitioners and fighters of every martial art style needs to take to heart.
So we hope we have provided our view in answering the question “does BJJ work in a street fight“?
Our short answer is that it does and it is probably one of the most effective martial art forms in terms of self defense for the streets. Of course, there is a huge difference between Jiu Jitsu that is relevant for the streets as opposed to Jiu Jitsu that is effective for sports and competition. We won’t get into full detail as there is a video posted about it here… Do You Know “Street” Jiu Jitsu?.
What are your views about the effective of BJJ on the streets for self defense? Leave us your opinions in the comments area below.