How Learning Self-Defense Can Help with Your Overall Jiu-Jitsu Game

Whether you’re a competitor or a weekend warrior, learning the Gracie Self-Defense can positively enforce the foundation of your game. When applying the self-defense concepts along with a strong fundamental background, you have a bigger pool of offense and defense to draw from. Your movement, your take downs, your frame, your idea of being attacked become way more dynamic because, in my opinion, it’s all the same thing. Not to mention, it makes us practitioners all the more versed in the gentle art.

Often times, learning self-defense can fall by the way side. Contemporary academies focus more on other styles and the self-defense is therefore not studied as deeply as stand up or ground techniques. There are a few common prejudices I hear when it comes to training self-defense. The first one is 1) I know BJJ so I can already defend myself; 2) Self-defense is not as fun as other subjects; 3) I’m a competitor, so I just like to work on my competition game. As practitioners we find our niche as we progress in this art, but first we learn many styles. At blue belt we take our fundamental and advanced classes to learn the many concepts of top game and bottom game. Once we start to reach purple our learning and application becomes a funnel and the narrow the filter gets, the more acute our specific ‘games’ develop. However, not learning the whole curriculum of self-defense, de la riva, passing, side control, is like firing from 2 cylinders when you could have 4. Can you imagine?

Let’s address the common prejudices. You may know be studying Jiu-Jitsu but if you don’t learn punch defense from all positions, attacks from behind, or even the weapons defense, truly ask yourself how you could defense yourself. And what if you find yourself in a street situation where the person confronting you knows Jiu-Jitsu and perhaps has the self-defense background? Secondly, the self-defense may not be as stimulating as learning how to pass the guard or learning berimbolo to take the back, but understand that it’s necessary. As a passionate practitioner myself, there are certain positons that don’t really “speak to me,” but I know I must learn them if for no other reason to know how to defend against it. Thirdly, I have to say that going through the self-defense curriculum as many times as I have, the stand-up has 100% impacted my takedowns. It actually has been instrumental in creating my takedown game, more specifically the clinch. I have seen this in other practitioners as well and you can see it in some of the high level IBJJF competitors.

From a broad standpoint, I have learned that the self-defense and ground techniques are really the same thing. The self-defense curriculum just gives us practitioners another cylinder to fire from whether we are competing or rolling in the gym. So why not spend a little more time during the week expanding your knowledge to incorporate the self-defense? I promise you, you won’t be sorry.


Jenifer Hordinski

Girls in Gis staff writer

Jenifer Hordinskiand her husband own and operate Katharo Training Center. Jenifer enjoys cooking almost as much as she loves eating. She also appreciates people who are spontaneous and well-crafted jokes. But above all, she loves training and teaching Jiu-Jitsu and spending time with her family over any savory impulsive joke.



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