There weren’t as many of the newer white belts in class tonight compared to the last few Fridays. It was mainly the regulars, although we did have one brand new guy. I found him interesting because he seemed unusually preoccupied with punch protection. While I was working with him on a guard pass, he would ask me questions like, “Couldn’t the person punch you from here?” I found the question a bit odd, not because I don’t care about punches, but because he was referring to the guy in the bottom of side mount punching the guy on top of him. I assured him that it would be an ineffective strategy for the bottom person, provided the top person had positioned himself correctly. While being aware of the danger of punches is an obvious concern for MMA or self defense, it’s not something that too many people bring up during jiu jitsu training, at least not at the gym I go to. I think it’s because most of our jiu jitsu students cross train in Muay Thai, in addition to being very good grapplers, so they are probably fairly confident that they could deal with punches if the situation were to arise. I’ve watched the videos of some of the MMA fights that our competition guys have participated in, and they didn’t seem to have any serious trouble with punches from what I’ve seen. Of course, anyone can get knocked out with a lucky punch or if they momentarily loose focus, but I think most of them probably feel that punch awareness on the ground is mainly a matter of common sense. I’m not sure if it’s common sense, in the sense that everybody comes by this knowledge naturally, but I don’t think there is an overwhelming amount to learn on this front. Basically, you’ve got the punch block series from guard (5 moves), the emergency punch block from guard, punch block defense from the bottom of side control and mount, and headlock punch defense. Oh, and don’t turtle up in a real fight unless you are fond of getting rabbit punched in the back of the head. That’s maybe ten rather basic moves, out of the hundreds of moves in the jiu jitsu curriculum. Just about all of this information is no more than a Youtube video away. Even if it’s not regularly addressed in jiu jitsu class, it’s probably one of the least difficult things to learn in jiu jitsu.