There has been a recent trend in the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world of decrying Competition, both “Sport BJJ” and Mixed Martial Arts, and emphasizing “self-defense” for Jiu-Jitsu.  Our BJJ is for self-defense is an excuse used by academies that don’t want any external measure of their training effectiveness. Its one step away from the mythical “dim mak” death touch.


Gracie Jiu-Jitsu was NEVER about Self Defense


How did Helio Gracie, the “father” of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu get famous?  He beat the shit out of other people.  He wasn’t going around fighting people in “self-defense”.  He was fighting people in CHALLENGE matches in one-on-one situations.  I’m not saying Helio didn’t get into street fights or have to defend himself.  What I am saying, is that he didn’t get famous for that. He got famous for one-on-one no-weapons challenge matches. A tradition that the Gracie family has upheld until the birth of modern day MMA.

Secondly, the explosion of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu in the United States (and consequently, “Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu”) was based primarily on two factors:

1. Royce Gracie’s success in the Ultimate Fighting Championship
2. The amazing Gracies in Action VHS series (clip below)

What you’ll notice is that there are no weapons and no multiple attackers.  So let’s be honest – Gracie Jiu-Jitsu’s own fame was founded on ONE on ONE, HAND to HAND situations. So don’t get it twisted and say it was ever really for self-defense. Maybe it’s purpose and greater good for the whole world was Self-Defense but it was popularized and established through other means.

What Better Proof of “Skill” is there Beyond Sport Competition?

Its interesting that people who still decry “sport” still watch it and follow the big events and use sport events to denote skill.  For example, there is no BJJ academy anywhere where the students say, “Oh, he placed at the Worlds” and are implying “he sucks.”  Self-defense advocates also still watch “sport” Mixed Martial Arts events like the UFC.

In fact, the self-defense only aspect is never used in the positive, but rather used to explain mat deficiencies.

Whereas “oh he’s a self-defense guy” usually means “he sucks”

Is the Hatred of Sport Competition Really a Cry for Self-Defense or a Dislike of their Inability to Adapt?

There’s also a weird bias against certain techniques. In the late 2000’s, I remember the self-defense advocates decrying the Spider guard but then loving cross chokes. Then they hated deep half guard. Then they hated 50/50. Then they hated Berimbolo. Then they hated the Lapel-based Guards. Notice a trend? The hate is for the new techniques that are somewhat hard to learn. If you love “old-school” techniques like cross-chokes that require a lapel, how can you be against spider guard or worm guard – that also require lapels?


What the fuck are you going to talk about if there is no competitions?  Street Fights?  You want Gracie Mag to write about Street Fights?

Strangely enough, the thing that the self-defense crowd loves the most is No-Time-Limit Submission Only GRAPPLING…  Doesn’t this seem crazy.  The 2 most effective expressions of the art by this group are STREET FIGHTS & NO TIME LIMIT SUBMISSION ONLY GRAPPLING MATCHES but Mixed Martial Arts & Time Limit Submission Only Grappling Matches are considered to be ineffective expressions of the art.

In the early 90’s when the Ultimate Fighting Championship started

Competition Keeps Instructors Honest

Is it that hard to believe that different learning institutions can produce different level students? After all, there is Harvard and Community College. They

What Risk Do You Have If You Go To a Non-Competition School?