Most people who begin training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu do so with the intent of learning the sport side of things.

The competitive aspect, the excitement of rolling and trying to submit your opponent is one of the main reasons people are drawn to this martial art.

However, for many beginner students, this can be a mistake. In this blog post I will explain why it is important for beginners to focus on self-defense aspects of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu before moving on to learning sports Jiu Jitsu techniques.

Historically, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu came from the influence of Japanese Jiu Jitsu and Judo into the Brazilian culture via the Gracie family.

Like its older martial art siblings, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu was created with self-defense in mind.

The techniques are designed to give the smaller, weaker person the ability to defend themselves against a larger, stronger opponent.

When you first start training, it is important to focus on these self-defense techniques.

The reason it is important for beginners to focus on self-defense aspects of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is because it will give them the foundation they need to defend themselves in a real life situation.

There are many different self-defense techniques that you will need to learn in order to be effective in a real life situation.

Some of these techniques include:

- blocking strikes

- how to take an attacker to the ground using throws or takedowns

- escaping a variety of headlocks

- defending chokes

- dealing with bearhugs

- getting away from an attacker who has you pinned to the ground

- managing distance

- and so on....

But isn’t sports Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is also a representation of a “real life” confrontation?

The answer to this question is both "yes" and "no".

In the context that both self-defense and sports/competition aspects put you in a fight against a resisting opponent, then the answer is "yes".

However, bear in mind that competition fights are totally different from real life fights.

Competition fights take place in a controlled environment with rules to ensure the safety of the competitors.

Real-life fights have no rules in place. Your attacker can strike or punch you. He can also uses a weapon and you might even have to face multiple attackers at once.

Delusions of the effectiveness of sports Jiu Jitsu technique during a real life fight can put you in danger regardless of your belt rank as a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioner.

However, if you have solid understanding about the self-defense aspects of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, you know which techniques work in real life fights and which should only be used in competitions.

Fundamental self-defense techniques always work for competitions but not the other way around

Another great benefit of having a solid fundamental self-defense techniques in your arsenal is that they mostly always work for competitions, depending on the rule set.

A good takedown or throw is very useful in Jiu Jitsu competitions.

The principal of staying on top to control your opponent also works in competitions.

Knowing how to block strikes and managing the distance work great for both MMA and combat Jiu Jitsu competitions.

On the other hand, sports-based techniques do not work in self-defense situations.

For example, if you try to execute a berimbolo or an Imanari roll or doing deep half guard techniques during a real fight, I can assure you that your face would be smashed into a bloody pulp.

Legitimate Brazilian Jiu Jitsu schools teach self defense

All legitimate Brazilian Jiu Jitsu schools teach the self-defense and sports aspects of the art.

If a school only focuses on sports, then it has forgotten the main essence of Jiu Jitsu as a martial art.

There are, however, schools that are more sports-oriented but even these ones will not discard teaching self-defense to their beginner students.

To wrap it up....

Once you have a good understanding of the self-defense aspects of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, you can then begin to explore the sport side of things.

The sport side of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is exciting and can be a lot of fun, but it is important to remember that the primary focus of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is self-defense.

There are many different techniques used in sports Jiu Jitsu, and many of them are very complex and technical.

If you try to learn all of these complicated techniques from the beginning, you will likely become overwhelmed and frustrated. It is much better to focus on the basics and build a strong foundation before moving on to the more advanced techniques.


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