Is Your Martial Art and Training Functional in the Street?

Recently the debate regarding the effectiveness of Jiu Jitsu/Jits/BJJ in a street fight has heated up all over the internet  because of a recent clip of two guys getting into an altercation over a pick up basketball game. Now I am gym rat who has played in thousands of pick up basketball games and this particular “fight” is right out of the street ball manual. One guy lost. Another guy won and both of them are yapping at each other. You know how this ends right? Eventually one of them is either going to have to back down or throw down and that is exactly what happens here in this video.  

So there are a couple of things that jump out at me when I watched the video.  But before I get into my “break down” of the altercation let me first restate my opinion on Jiu Jitsu and it’s overall effectiveness in a street fight. I love Jiu Jitsu. I believe that of all of the martial arts it takes the most strategic thinking. It is a chess game that is backed by the science of leverage and anatomy. In MMA fighters who do not have ground skills are limited, very limited by their lack of a complete arsenal. Fights will end up on the ground sometimes and it would be foolish to enter a ring or cage knowing this but not preparing via training for this.

The skill set developed during training for jiu jitsu is incredible and it no one would question its effectiveness as a science. My criticism though begins inside of the training. You see the overwhelming majority of BJJ schools in the united states are not , I repeat true self defense schools. In fact they are sport/competition based training and they spend very little time if any devoting their roll time to street based attacks, armed attackers, multiple attackers, restrictive clothing etc…

Many instructors tell their students that the skills they are developing inside of the dojo are and on the mat are 100% applicable and transferable to the street. This is simply not true.  In fact training is a process not an event. What I mean here is that spending two hours a day for 5 days a week will net you 40 hours a month. If all of these hours are spent training for a specific event with specific rules, how well would the practitioner do in a real life scenario that was void of all rules and conduct? It is a fair question don’t you think?

“We do not rise to the level of our expectations. We fall to the level of our training.” --Archilochus, Greek Soldier, 650 BC

This is not an attempt by this author to disrespect BJJ in anyway. To the contrary I am actually supporting BJJ as a system by pointing out it’s scientific prowess and the tactical advantages it provides those who have trained. It is a fact though that the average BJJ student has never trained in a scenario that includes multiple attackers, weapons, street clothes etc… There are many BJJ schools, students and instructors who only train in Gi BJJ. Imagine if you got into a fight on the basketball court and both you and your opponent are slippery, covered in sweat and you have never trained without your Gi? How can you say for sure that you know exactly how you’d react. You still with me or are you still stinging with butt hurt? So a BJJ program that included weapons and multiple attackers, street clothes, fatigue, sweat, stress of the unknown, would be far more effective and applicable in the street than basic sport based Jiu Jitsu.

By the way the same could be said for any sport based training system. I will use my own gym as an example. I have over the last couple of years developed a fight team out of my Krav Maga gym. We primarily compete in Muay Thai and MMA. During this time I have developed and evolved as a coach. I did not arrogantly bring Krav Maga to these events without training in the specific sport. In other words I went to the best trainers that I could find and learned from them. In turn I brought what I learned about these sports to my fighters. Additionally we trained with our friends from others systems in order to further our knowledge and improve at the specific skill sets required in these arenas.

Do you see? As of this very moment, we have three undefeated Muay Thai Fighters including an Undefeated 3 time Champion. She is the reigning undefeated United States MuayThai Association Regional Champion, USMTA TRI-STATE Champion and Premiere Muay Thai League Cup Winner! I have two undefeated MMA fighters, one who has won Fight of the Night twice in a row and one who knocked her opponent out in 53 seconds of the first round in her debut.

My point here is that without spending time training in these sports and preparing for the specific event my fighters would have very little chance by simply relying only on Krav Maga in the cage or ring, mostly because the strikes and tactics we use in Krav Maga are illegal. So if I can recognize the need for specific training why is it so hard for sport fighters to recognize the need for specific training for street altercations? Makes you wonder.

Back to my “ break-down” of the fight I mentioned earlier. Yes you can clearly see that the Jiu Jitsu student did a fairly decent job of avoiding damage and using some grappling to control his opponent. This the part where the Jiu Jitsu community uses this video to validate the system. First of all Jiu Jitsu does not need to be validated it is scientifically proven and combat approved. However this “fight” if you want to call it that  was not all that violent. The Jiu Jitsu guy did not appear to have any real interest in causing significant harm to his opponent and for that matter he was not able to finish any of the submissions he attempted until the heel hook at the end and his opponent did not appear to be in any real discomfort.

That being said there can be no question that the Jiu Jitsu guy’s acquired grappling skill helped him survive this mild altercation.  What would have happened though if any of those other guys jumped into the fight? Do you think that the Jiu Jitsu guy would have been able to maintain his control? Do you think that his training has prepared him for multiple attackers? I don’t. If it had he would not have gone to the ground in a street fight in the first place.  Again he who puts all of his faith in Jiu Jitsu is as foolish as he who has no faith in Jiu Jitsu. Train hard! Be safe!

About the Author:

Donavin Britt is a Second Degree Black Belt under John Whitman. He is the owner and Chief Instructor of Las Vegas Krav Maga in Las Vegas, Nevada. Donavin has trained with many of the top Krav Maga and BJJ instructors in the world. 

Donavin has a background in multiple Martial disciplines and continues to be recognized as one of the most dynamic instructors and innovative trainers in the game today.

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