Posts Tagged ‘Sport bjj’

Image result for greek fight

I found it strange when “No-Gi” became a thing. Not the concept of training without the kimono, which I do at least half of my training time, but the label. I see the necessity, the value and the realism of it. But the moniker, and the way it stuck and the eventual dogma that has become associated with the concept of No-Gi training is just, well…weird.

Here is why I think it is weird to be dogmatic about no-gi training, and by dogmatic I mean the viewpoint of those convinced that training with a gi is somehow less realistic for self-defense purposes. Do these people plan to only fight naked? Because I YouTubed it and I found very few completely naked fights (although there are some bizarre things turned up by a Google search for “Naked Fighting” and I don’t recommend this search).

All joking aside, I understand how this came about of course. The more grip dependent bjj became in sportive and sparring contexts, the more divorced from real fighting it became. I agree that spider guard has extremely limited application to a street fight. But this is the extreme example, and too many folks confuse the part for the whole in regards to usefulness in martial arts training in general. For example, if you think that the patty-cake drills frequently found in Wing Chun, JKD, FMA styles, etc. are direct reflections of how the fight would or should happen, then you understand nothing about violence. Moreover, you missed the point of those drills. Drills like those are like chain wrestling or kata: they are segments of techniques connected with likely transitions, not necessarily linked for practicality but for flow and fluidity to enhance sensitivity, receptiveness to changes in energy, angle recognition and building of attributes useful in an actual fight.

Back to BJJ and No-Gi grappling, I find it especially strange that I don’t hear criticism of wrestling or boxing as “unrealistic” methods of training for fighting. Rarely do I see a comment on a boxing video the way I see on BJJ competition videos such as “This shit will get you killed if you try it in a street fight.” Yet, I don’t think it is even arguable that a bjj competition is more of a “fight” than boxing by far.

And now that I said that and surely pissed off some BJJ haters, let me elaborate: Boxing is extremely useful and valuable for a street fight, in my opinion. My opinion, however, is that the rules of boxing are far more strict than boxing.

Here is a comparison:

What can you NOT do in BJJ competition that you CAN do in boxing? Strike. That’s about it.
Now what can you NOT do in boxing that you CAN do in BJJ competition? Clinch for extended periods of time, throw, sweep, grapple, choke, attack joints for submissions and the list goes on.

Please understand, this is not saying that one is superior to another. This is just to point out the absurdity of comments like the example given above that are ubiquitous on BJJ videos.

Back to my original point, I suggest that training in the gi, with accessibility of grips, is potentially more realistic for self-defense. Understanding how to grab, hold and control someone is very important when not in effective striking ranges, and whether you want or not, most likely the fight will hit a range where striking is not the most effective tool for the job. And while the clothing an attacker has on may not identically match a gi, there will be comparable grip opportunities, that with intelligent training can be modified to fit the occasion. Training with complete restriction against grabbing the clothing can limit this ability.

If you are training for a No-Gi competition or MMA, then of course, don’t become too dependent on gi training. Although, it is arguable that there is still some benefit to training with the gi for some portion of a fight camp for MMA. But that is a subject for another time.

So in summary, unless you are training for No-Gi comp or MMA or specifically for battling nudists, there is a benefit to be had from training with the gi, especially as it pertains to self-defense. And even at the sport level, there are attributes to be gained or polished by wearing the gi. Sport is sport, whether wrestling, boxing, fencing, whatever and one should develop a filter for absorbing what is useful and discarding what is not for varying contexts of fighting.

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.”