Let me start with the statement I am not a hater of BJJ it is just the art that has sparked this particular discussion. Believe me I am equally critical of other arts such as Aikido. In my life I believe we should be honest about all things and the martial arts are no exception. All the arts have contributed something to the world and the best I can tell BJJ has contributed a great marketing plan. Now one of the best known martial arts in the world it has successfully introduced such terms as “rear naked choke, “the guard” and “mount position” in to our modern lexicon. Before we get into my thoughts on BJJ let’s take a look at a few traditional arts such as Karate which was designed to defend against armed Samurai using nothing but empty hands and crude farm implements, Japanese Ju-Jitsu which is the father of all Japanese arts, Krav Maga a modern day “Warrior’s Art”, Bando , Arnis ,and the mother of all martial arts Kung Fu. What you will notice about the traditional arts and proven modern combat arts like Krav Maga, Kapap and Systema which is a very close cousin to Aikido, is that they lack a significant ground component. The reason they don’t to quote the Israel’s “If you want to die fight on the ground.” All the arts I named where forge in the crucible of human combat and warfare over the past 3000 plus years and BJJ was not. You have to understand that a violent encounter only last 5 to 8 seconds. Think of it this way… 1 Mississippi, 2 Mississippi, 3 Mississippi, 4 Mississippi, 5 Mississippi, 6 Mississippi, 7 Mississippi, 8 Mississippi and the encounter in over just that fast.
A real world encounter is fast and violent, this is why traditional combat arts are front loaded, meaning the most violent and damaging parts of the technique come early within the first 2 to 3 moves. They are quick, compact and violent. BJJ is not built like that it is back end loaded meaning that “They are setting you up for something later in the fight” I don’t know if that’s a good idea. You may not be alive later in the fight if you don’t survive the first 8 seconds. That may be a great strategy in a sporting match but could be a deadly mistake in combat. If you watch the video closely you can clearly see that they both have had some training. To what extent we don’t know but some training and they used that training. The training cost the one guy some teeth and pride, but it potentially could have been his life. It points out two major flaws in not just BJJ but combat prep in general. First you can’t tie up meaning spending too much time, energy and focus engaging one opponent for the reasons you see on the video.
I believe any art that doesn’t strive to inflict the maximum effect of a technique very early on in the encounter, within the first 3 moves, in an effort to dispose of the opponent as fast as possible and maintain situational awareness is faulty. Tying up with someone takes all your focus and too much energy making it very difficult if not impossible to remain situationaly aware. I’ve said it once I will say it again fighting on the ground for any reason is a sure fire recipe for disaster . I don’t care how skilled you are in the dojo or training hall don’t do it. If you fall down or get knocked down make every effort to get back to your feet. In a real life encounter there is no such thing as the superior position if you are on the ground. Remember why hold downs like the mount and guard where perfected. Japanese police in the feudal era perfected “hold downs” because they could not kill a samurai because of his class status and only permitted to arrest him ,so they needed a safe way to hold the samurai until help could arrive and place him in custody. Clearly that worked both ways if other samurai arrived first then the officer was in peril
WWII returning GI’s would talk about how lethal the Japanese where even unarmed with their Judo as a consequence during the allied occupation of Japan martial arts was out lawed. In Burma the Burmese fought the Japanese with their art of Bondo and from the Philippines the art of arnis is widely considered one of the most affective combat arts. Krave maga is the closest to bJJ with regards to age. It is a relatively young art but it is built on the principles of the old ways. Every day the Israelis use Krav Maga to defend their homeland . None of these arts spend much if any time on the ground. They have one strategy when on the ground and that is to stand back up, because they know what the marketing material seems to have omitted “If you want to die fight on the ground”.
If your strategy is to use BJJ if someone is attempting to rape you I plead with you not to because I fear you will find yourself a rape victim or worse. The combat philosophy is all wrong. First you have to understand the only time you will be attacked is if the attacker determines that he or she has some sort of tactical advantage. Be it time, situation, size, strength or whatever. The first action is to avoid the situation all together with situational awareness , second is to discourage the attack and that can be done simply with a confident walk and head up scanning your environment and if you are attack SURVIVE ! the initial 5-8 second keep fighting then escape and evade do not attempt a prolonged engagement, like attempting to choke someone unless that is part of your escape plan. Am I saying that BJJ is totally useless in the most violent of encounters? No some training is better that no training. I am saying question it. If the philosophies and techniques are sound they will stand up to scrutiny. No art is an unquestionable religion.
I’ve studied martial arts since I was 8 and I love the martial arts, all arts for that matter. I hold no allegiance to any one art. I consider myself a student of the “ Martial Ways”. I have read 1000’s of books on the subject of martial arts and studied and trained with 100’s of sensei’s(a few legit many bogus, a topic for another day) and unfortunately I have found it necessary and regrettable to use the skills and knowledge I have accumulated in defense of my life. It’s is not something I am proud of but the honor goes to my teachers who prepared me to be successful and victorious in just such an unfortunate situation. What I have written is not a condemnation of BJJ or any other art it is just my opinion nothing more and its worth just that much. But I will say be careful what combat philosophy you subscribe to and who you train under because your LIFE may depend on it one day.