BJJ - A Known Quantity - 01/09/2012

By Kev Capel

known quantity - definition: 

someone whose character, personality, and behavior are recognized and understood.

Twice this week I was asked 'but why should I learn Bjj as opposed to say Krav Maga?' and twice I felt like I failed to really give a good sound reason why you should train BJJ. Not good considering I'm a gym owner! Dont get me wrong I came out with all the old classics:
1. Its a great lifestyle as well as a martial art
2. 90% of fights go to the ground
3. Didnt you see UFC 1?
etc etc but the guys asking me the question were'nt the normal walk in enquiry, both were friends who know me quite well.
The first guy was a work collegue interested in the art and its effectiveness and had googled 'the most effective martial art' with BJJ putting in a strong showing at no. 3 but ultimately losing out to Keysi and Krav Maga he was hard to convince about Bjj partly because other than the usual statements I rattled off he was sure I am just biased because I run a Bjj Academy.
The second guy is an old Army friend that worked in the private security sector all over the world who nearly lost his life recently in a hand to hand (plus metal pipe by all accounts) street altercation in Iraq - so he is very keen to learn something but not keen on playing on the ground as he knows first hand that being on the ground in a real situation is not fun, although he was slightly easier to sway towards bjj, more because he trusts my input on such matters not because I did a great job of giving a real reason why I feel Bjj is the art for someone like himself.

So I soul searched a bit hoping to come up with something concrete.
It wasnt easy because if like me you already train Bjj you already know how much fun it is, how addictive it is and not to mention that it gives you a real edge in a confrontation in lots of respects, but putting that 'knowing' into words was tough for me - and I like both these guys so I wanted to have a better answer than 'Because Helio Gracie was skinny and could beat up big guys'

And then it came to me - if you find yourself in a serious confrontation, ie road rage, Pub Disagreement (just add alcohol for overreactions) or god forbid a fight in a war torn country where life is cheap you need an option. That Option can quite easily be Karate, Kick Boxing or Krav Maga etc all worth while pursuits but why do I recommend BJJ - simply because its a known quantity. Let me explain my reasoning - when push comes to shove and a fight starts you are going to do something, and if your go to move is a groin strike or an eye gauge you really dont know whats going to happen next, hopefully the guy will crumble to the ground and you walk or run away unscathed but this aint Hollywood - during my time in the Army I was in scrapes and scraps every weekend and that isnt an exagerration unfortunately I was whats known as a punchy little git when you added copious amounts of alcohol and encouragement from other punchy peers in the regiment! ( I hasten to add martial arts has humbled me immensely and chilled me out substantially) So I know first hand that when you poke someone in the eye or kick their groin or even sucker punch them that they may not immediately quit the fight or be knocked out, they may fold, or they may now be incensed and now really have a reason to want to try and kill you, striking in these situations is an unknown quantity, its not wrong but if you tell me every time you hit someone they drop I'm gonna have to call you on it, where as with BJJ every time a new guy walks through the door and you roll with them you feel how they react and you learn to pre empt their movements, sometimes I feel rolling with new white belts is the most important training for self defence because you get to feel the jerky, thrashing moves of a complete beginner and although that flailing elbow was accidental it is still worthwhile learning how to avoid it. So in a nutshell for effective training in case of a real confrontation then Bjj is a great option because it is a known quantity, its very likely that if you close the distance and get to the clinch on a real aggressor it's going to feel almost exactly like clinching and rolling with an overly enthusiastic and strong beginner and after about 12 months of training Bjj you will be more than comfortable in that encounter and being comfortable in a high stress situation is much better than not knowing whats going to happen next.

Disclaimer: This is not a Bjj is better than any other martial art post - I have a lot of respect for alot of other martial arts and usually find that its a closed mind problem not a technique problem, I also see no harm with blending arts like Karate or Krav Maga or indeed my first martial art of JKD with Bjj but I do feel Bjj is important for everyone to garner that tactile feel that only live rolling and sparring can give you.

for the Top 10 Martial arts for self defence List I mentioned click here