People take up Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for many reasons and all of them are valid as everyone is different. One of the things that will really help you is to make sure that you keep your goals and reasons for starting in mind when you train. I know this sounds really simple but a lot of people start BJJ for self defense and then get drawn into the world of modern competitive sports Jiu Jitsu and end up playing the latest tricky sports techniques each and every time they train…
Again not necessarily a bad thing. If you are doing BJJ for fun, fitness and a hobby then that is great! Even if you do it for self defense, as long as you make sure to address the self defense aspects in your training regularly too I am sure you can enjoy the best of both worlds. As Ryron Gracie is fond of saying “Keep It Playful” and don’t forget to “Keep It Street” from time to time too!
I think Sports and Self Defense training can easily coexist in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu as long as you address what you want out of the art and your instructor and academy can cater for both! Too many people are quick to vilify Sports Jiu Jitsu as being bad for the art when in fact it has brought tremendous growth and development to the art we all love!
Sports Jiu Jitsu is the major driving force towards spreading the name, supporting growth and evolution of the art and attracting people from all ages and all walks of life! The sports side has forced individuals to become better athletes or at least improve their fitness significantly, again NOT a bad thing at all as being healthier and fitter will help us in all aspects of life!
Just like MMA or Vale Tudo before it, Sports BJJ has brought a tremendous amount of attention to the art we love and actually does bring more people through the doors of all our academies so we can’t complain too much!
That being said, I do firmly believe that EVERYONE who practices Jiu Jitsu should be taught how to defend themselves from the simplest of common assault tactics. You should learn how to safely enter a clinch and take your opponent down to the floor where you can control, render them incapable of causing you harm or escape as necessary.
Jiu Jitsu in my eyes will always remain a Martial Art and we have to respect it as such and arm people with the tools to defend themselves and even more importantly arm them with the knowledge and know how of how to avoid and defuse a potentially volatile situation too!
I do think that someone who focuses on Jiu Jitsu for self defense should still do a lot of live training and jump in and train with others who have different goals but always in safe, well supervised and well matched environment. Competitors and younger more athletic training partners expose them to a level of realism and limitation that they may not otherwise be aware of and done properly will increase their confidence and enhance their ability to defend themselves!
So if you are passionately for one side of the argument, how about taking a few sessions to see what we can learn from the other side and how training in each can actually complement each other just like Gi training helps No Gi and No Gi training helps your Gi training! YES I know I may have opened another can of worms there but it is true! however I will leave that for another post!