I really enjoyed tonight’s class. I felt like I had moments during my sparring where I was flowing well. I even submitted a white belt with a straight ankle lock. Actually, he submitted himself by rolling the wrong way in his attempt to escape, but I’m still counting it as a success. At the end of class, the head coach went around the class and gave feedback to each of the students regarding their progress. When he got to me, he said he thought I was pretty good at a lot of techniques, but should try to focus on getting really good at at least one thing. He said that specializing in something would allow me to bring my jiu jitsu to the next level. I had been thinking much the same thing over the past month, which is why I have been working on developing my 50/50 sweep. It’s still too early to tell whether it will be a good fit for me, but I like the early results of my experimentation with it during sparring. Rickson Gracie has been very vocal recently of his disapproval of modern guards like the 50/50, but I’m not convinced that his concerns are entirely justified. Fighting–real fighting–is dangerous. If you end up on the bottom of the fight in real life, some guards are safer than others for sure, but we’ve all seen people in the UFC get demolished from the bottom of closed guard, even when they were doing their best to tie up the top person’s arms. The key is to be aware of strikes no matter what position you end up in. Even if I’m in 50/50, and you come on top, yes you can punch me, but my arms are free to defend, and I have a free leg that can kick you in the face. That’s probably illegal in MMA, but I’m thinking about a self defense situation. I highly doubt I would ever use 50/50 in a self defense situation, but even if I did end up there, I don’t think it’s a totally hopeless situation. In any case, I am slowly starting to realize that most people, including Rickson Gracie, are not relying on any hard data when it comes to who will and who will not prevail in a self defense situation. I’m not talking about MMA, and I’m not talking about a street fight. I agree that Rickson Gracie is an expert in those two things. Self defense is when one party engages in a completely unprovoked attack on the other, and the other party attempts to neutralize the attack. Other than police officers and prison guards, most of us have never been attacked out of the blue. It has only happened to me once in my life, and I used striking to end it. The fight, in my case, never went to the ground. Another point about sport vs self defense BJJ is that a large number of pure sport BJJ guys have studied other martial arts. Most of the guys at my gym cross train in Muay Thai, and I myself did karate for 15 years, and judo for ten years. I think mindset and physical conditioning are far more important than specific techniques in a real life assault. That’s why I think a lot of out of shape, and overly confident, “self defense” martial artists would be in big trouble if they actually got into a fight.

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