Posts Tagged ‘Self Defense’

Knife defenses, and fighting with a knife in general, are voodoo sciences. It is very difficult to train, with any sense of realism, how to defend against a knife wielding attacker. The reason that Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is such a practical, powerful and useful martial art is due to how realistically the techniques can be applied in training. Striking arts cannot be trained as realistically as grappling arts. Weapons arts have to be trained even less realistically.

I am NOT saying any of this to insinuate that training in weapons or weapons defenses is a waste of time. Just the opposite: we have to exercise extreme discretion in how we train against weapons. Because there are so many variables to a weapon attack that must be estimated in practice, some practitioners tend to take a bit too much license in making up ways to defend and disarm an attacker. I have seen some dangerously ignorant approaches taken in this regard. Many disarms you might see floating around martial arts schools or videos online might feature an “attacker” leaving his weapon hand floating in space while the defender makes an elaborate series of strikes before stripping the knife away.

As I say in the video, statistically (for what that’s worth) most people who will stab you won’t reveal the knife until it is inside you. Don’t watch movies or most martial arts techniques to learn anything about knife attacks, watch prison videos. Survivors of knife fights go to the hospital; losers to the morgue. I do my best to research and pressure test everything I ever show or teach, and knife stuff is the hardest even though I have access to some of the most brilliant minds on the subject in the world.

Without further ado, here is a video of what I feel to be a realistic defense in to a potentially realistic knife attack. I hope you enjoy.

Too many times I hear and read, when showing a self-defense technique, “You shouldn’t have let the attacker get that close,” or “you should have gone on the offense.” Here’s the thing: self-defense techniques are about dealing with a situation gone bad already. If you could preemptively end the situation or avoid, then awesome, do that. But when you are caught off guard and placed into a negative situation is when you need the techniques the most.

Having said that, I at least wanted to put out a video showing a jiu-jitsu option for going on the offense when you can. In this video the fight has ensued and you are squared up with the opponent. Here’s what happens:

1. You manage the distance until you decide to engage.

2. You close the distance with a jab to cross or overhand right, which if it lands, great, but at least opens the opponent’s hands to get you into position for a single leg takedown.

3. If the opponent is unaffected by the strikes to the extent he stops your single leg setup, you can transition to a dirty boxing clinch. The dirty boxing clinch allows for strikes and throwing potential as demonstrated in the video.

I’ll let the video show the rest. Please like, share and comment on the YouTube video! Thank you all!

If you got into a fight tomorrow, what do you think would happen? What do you think the most likely attack would be? How would you defend against it?

Below is a video I shot with Funker Tactical for their new Martial Arts YouTube channel on how to defend against a sucker punch. Far and away, the most common attack on the street is someone trying to punch someone else in the face. Arguably, this is more difficult depending on the degree of indication someone gives you prior to the attack. A “sucker punch” is one that comes from someone who hasn’t given typical indication that his intention is to fight. It is exceedingly difficult to defend against something about which you have little to no forewarning.

In training martial arts, you will see a variety of techniques on how to deal with such an attack. The video illustrates my favorite, from Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, using a non-threatening posture preceding the attack, moving into a clinch range to nullify his punches, then throwing him to the ground. I could have used more strikes during this, but when it comes to strikes I like to be selective, energy-efficient and not create unnecessary space. Also, after securing the clinch, a variety of takedowns could be used, depending on the posture of the attacker.

Why Grapple?

Grappling benefits the smaller, weaker person vs the larger and stronger attacker. The larger person can hit harder and reach farther. Preemptive striking as an alternative, would require the defender to be faster than the attacker. It is a mistake to ever assume you will be faster or stronger than the person attacking you…why would someone attack someone physically superior to them? Also, this situation, as I describe in the beginning, may not actually result in a fight. Just because someone is being aggressive and confrontational does not necessarily mean a physical fight has to follow. If you had a possibility to diffuse or avoid a fight, and you instead chose not to do so, then you have failed.

This Isn’t My Idea

I didn’t invent this technique. Let me make that clear. I was taught this technique by Royce Gracie, and I assume he was taught by another family member in turn. I think everyone has his own take or way of performing a technique once he learns it, based either on preference or ability. I mention this to pay respect to my teacher and to not misrepresent any concepts that are not totally my own. Having said that, there are millions of techniques out there, some better than others for certain people, and constant revisions and improvements. This technique isn’t perfect, but there is no such thing as a perfect technique. Martial Arts is a game of percentages focused on what can keep you safest in a fight. Training is the thing. So go do it.

I have tried having the conversation/debate/argument about Sport and Self-Defense for BJJ, and I have arrived at this: It is all good. Train it all. The sport can enhance the self-defense and vice versa.

Oddly, this isn’t always a popular opinion, because the self-defense purists argue that the sport is a corruption of the original intention of the Gracie family martial art. I totally understand this viewpoint, because if I were to call boxing or wrestling or judo a complete martial art, I would be very sorely mistaken. Sport BJJ is just that though – it is a rule-based and structured sport in which many techniques are adapted and applied in a competitive environment in order to determine who can best apply their art in that setting. I don’t know any serious competitors that think what they are doing is a complete representation of the totality of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

However, there are many sport competitors who neither see the need or value of practicing the more martial aspects of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. They are content with training only for sport, and don’t care about the self-defense. This is perfectly OK! If I only want to box, and have no aptitude or interest in grappling or weapons training or whathaveyou, then fine! Let me box. However, if you are like me, you enjoy the entire art and see the value of sport jiu-jitsu in building attributes that enhance your ability to apply all techniques, such as timing, sensitivity, reflexes, athleticism, etc.

So what is the real problem here? It is when one side of the “argument” makes the assumption that the other views their version as the true and only way to train. Competitors thinking the self-defense is impractical or a waste of time are as bad as self-defense practitioners who train in a vacuum and never pressure test their abilities in a competitive environment. Personally, I believe these two myopic groups have the loudest voices (or keyboard strokes) in the debate, which is very unfortunate because it makes it seem as if they are representatives of BJJ…and they are not. These loud voices of opposition and critics of other practitioners should be marginalized and minimized. When we focus too much on the criticism of others, we take the attention off of our own progress.

I will leave you with this quote from Theodore Roosevelt:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Funker Tactical, famous for putting out amazing gun & gear tactical training videos and the like are expanding to include more martial arts! The Funker Martial Arts channel recently launched on YouTube, featuring some awesome technique videos with martial artists such as Doug Marcaida, Fred Mastro, Ryan Hoover and yours truly. It is awesome to get to work with these guys! We have filmed several videos that will be released periodically. I hope you all enjoy the techniques as they come, as well as the sample below. Check out the Funker Tactical and especially their new Funker Martial Arts Channel!

I have a new site up at KnightBJJ.com! Check it out to see technique videos and info, stuff about training and other jiu-jitsu related issues. I hope you like it!

KnightBJJ.com

Triumph

There’s always that question, particularly in Jiu-Jitsu, of whether the belt someone is awarded is legitimate. This question isn’t asked the same way in other arts because the criteria are different and in Jiu-Jitsu there is more of a hang up on who can tap who. Is it all about that? If you get that purple belt, should you be able to tap any blue belt? If you are a brown belt and can tap a black belt, do you automatically deserve your black? Does it depend on size or strength combined with technique? Is there a simpler answer?

Technique conquers all. I believe that. But the technique doesn’t guarantee victory. All things being equal, equal technique and experience, the bigger or stronger or faster opponent will typically come out on top. You shouldn’t be expected to best a 250 pound athlete of a purple belt if you are a 150 pound purple belt. So the performance basis of any martial art, Jiu-Jitsu included has a cap on it.

Furthermore, shouldn’t the “art” aspect be considered? The philosophy. The principles behind the technique and the knowledge you gain are benefits of the study and practice that potentially carry on further than even the techniques themselves. Just as in yoga, self-study or self-reflection is a premise of the journey, Jiu-Jitsu likewise should be approached with concern toward the character development of the practitioner. This hits closer to the heart of the questions posed in the beginning.

Here is what I have surmised as one of the most important considerations in progression in Jiu-Jitsu: it’s not a matter of are you better than anyone else, it is whether you are better than the you the you were. Can you tap the yesterday you? The last week or last month you? Do you have a more refined lens or approach to training than the previous you?

Can Buchecha tap Relson Gracie? I’m gonna say most likely. Maybe not, but I’d put my money on Buchecha. So why not give Buchecha the red belt? Let’s pose a different question. Who can teach the most people a deeper understanding and appreciation of Jiu-jitsu? Who can show someone the most versatile of movements for a multitude of situations to the most diverse individuals with varied levels of physical ability? Now my money goes on Relson.

So again, Jiu-Jitsu wins, because it’s not about just a few criteria. A true professor in my estimation, watches students closely and insightfully, considering many aspects of their ability and character. I understand that there are schools and teachers who only award rank based on performance in fights or tournaments. “You got a gold medal? Here’s your next stripe.” “You got a rear naked in your mma fight? Here’s your brown belt.” Sad to see.

I’d rather put a stripe on the belt of the kid who looked the bully in the eye for the first time in his academic life than on the belt of the kid who was already an athlete in five other sports and is now tearing up all the grappling tournaments. That guy who could barely tie his shoes because he was so overweight and now can roll for half an hour – that’s the guy I admire. Again, I admit, I love watching uber talented athletes do miraculous things on the mat or in the ring, but they are not half of the hero as the woman who stopped the sexual assault that was about to happen to her.

So while you have to be able to perform the techniques with understanding and appropriate proficiency, and you should be able to defend yourself easily with these techniques against your physical equal of an opponent, these are but partial criteria in considering ranking qualifications in Jiu-Jitsu. Personal growth and development, and as Grandmaster Helio said, the triumph of human intelligence over brute strength, these all should be considerations in determining rank.

This isn’t always the case. And these are my opinions. And these are my convictions.