Does Sport BJJ Help Self Defense?

This is a common topic to debate on and this is a great response by Keenan Cornelius

The whole sport jiu jitsu vs self defense jiu-jiujitsu debate is crazy to me. Of course the guys winning in sports jiu jitsu can defend them selves. The self defense aspects of bjj are white belt to blue belt level. It only takes months to learn them. After that it’s all much more complex and fun. Any one who thinks their self defense jj is more applicable than sport bjj come Atos San Diego comp class. I’ll unleash Carbullido on you. He helped me with worm guard passes more than anyone. But he will wrestle your ass down and kimura quicker than you can say “Helio wouldn’t approve”

Dan Lukehart's photo.

Try walking into a major teams competition training and telling them their BJJ isnt good for self defense. See what happens. Go to Atos SD competition class. They are the pinnacle of Sport BJJ. No need to even pick the high profile black belts like Andre, JT, Keenan, Leo or Guto. Ask for the up and comers like Carbullido. See how fast Liera will be on your back. 15-20 seconds? Heck…even go further down the line. Ask for blue belt Pete O’Neal. Hes come by Brea JJ before. Ive seen how he does against casual brown and black belts. Somehow, everybody seems to understand if THEY personally went in the room they would get their butt kicked, but in a hypothetical street fight situation the sport guy would get stomped because they are doing crazy competition stuff. Put faces on it. Make it real. Look at Mikes face in this pic. Look in his eyes. Look in Galvaos eyes. Imagine some random guy on the streets attacking him in this moment. This picture is about 10 seconds before I competed with him. Hes a tough guy…. Period. Punches, gi, no gi, whatever. He understands MOVEMENT. He gave up his entire life to train with Andre so he can be the best. Don’t knock what got him and others so tough.

Don’t close yourself off to ANY technique for its benefits are not always immediately clear. Double guard pull? Try training 3 times a day and by Wed when your muscles and joints are so sore you can hardly walk. You can still be on the mat working leg locks, leg drags and timing because its a position that can be easy on the joints…You might even stumble on a way to come up from a sweep in a better way. Worm Guard? Introduces you to angles and back takes from a different perspective which concepts and movement transcend any one position.

You argue that thats all well and good, but its when people only focus on those techniques. Who are these people? Mason of AOJ white belt berimbolo fame? If hes pulling these techniques off to win a blue belt world championship, its sheer ignorance to think he wouldn’t be able to be successful if somebody bear hugged him from behind. Ask him to show you the technical escape, and he might (even likely?) wouldnt be able to show you exactly what you are looking for out of him. He will still escape if you allow him the opportunity resist 100%.

Sport techniques…lets just say Berimbolo for now….its not a technique to confuse the opponent and somehow trick your way to victory. One would think that if they watched the sport develop from afar and are not in the day to day grind. There is an intimate sense of angles, coordination….timing. If you resist the main method in which to develop this, you are limiting yourself.

The analogy to sport TKD or sport Karate is a bad one. Want to know why? Because this isnt 1993. Any time you are practicing techniques against fully resisting opponents it has some application in a real fight given proper context. You wouldn’t know that if you didnt follow the rapid evolution of MMA and realize the wide variety of striking and grappling techniques & philosophies that have been assimilated into real fighting situations. Many of these flashy techniques, when layered on proper training and skill foundation, turned out to be quite effective indeed! Against highly skilled opponents no less! Much of the BS stuff worked! If you didnt even know your own brother fought Saku in modern MMA, how are you going to know this fact? How are you going to know that 50/50 is an entirely viable position if you have not seen how it happens in real MMA fights?

Is it any coincidence that the most commonly practiced disciplines in MMA have rich sports to go along with them? Wrestling? MT? BJJ? Why is wrestling the most dominate base? Like in BJJ, only a limited amount of the techniques work in an MMA context. Much of the techniques in wrestling are a flat out bad idea. It works for one reason above all: They are tough as nails and grappling with some sort of sense of positional dominance is effective in a fight . Everybody in a wrestling room is a competitor. Its a dog eat dog world. The strong survive, the weak are cut. People work until their is sweat coming off the walls and you break down and simultaneously cry and throw up. There is no instruction for self defense what so ever! Its high level sport doing its thing. Any D1 wrestler with no cross training has overwhelming odds of success in a streat fighting situation. As do tough Judo sport players. How much BS junk relative to a real fight do you think Ronda practiced if you broke it down on that level? How much sport only grip fighting sequences? Does she use her Judo stance when striking? However, All of it informed her MMA skill set in some way.

Listen to the perspective of the older generation. They are extremely knowledgeable and have much to share about the history, mindset and techniques of the art. They can also help make you high level in sport BJJ. However, be careful who you empower to represent current BJJ landscape. Previous champions should be apart of the discussion, but their perspective should not be the ONLY ones guiding it. Any organization that excludes current leaders perspectives and thinks their views should be cleansed is a joke. If you surround yourself with students and yes men, you might get the impression that its only a small fraction of people that would disagree with you and they must be washed away through reeducation. The same statement would hold if it was the converse was true and didnt include past leaders. All perspectives should be included. The top competitors have so many organization formats they compete under and will adapt to any circumstance. Advantages, no advantages, points, no points, gi, no gi, heel hooks, reaping ect. It will still be the same guys winning with the same amazing BJJ with adjusted strategy to achieve victory. Keenan vs Casey anybody? So much for only doing Reverse De La Worm Guard and wins by points. I like Caseys BJJ too. It has some great strong points!

On the mat, if you tell me you are not interested in self defense what-so-ever, we are going to learn how to block punches from the guard and do slap fighting for rolling. If you come and tell me you only want to do self defense, ill have you working worm guard. Yin and yang. This post is no different. It is my yang to part of the communities Yin. I am presenting only one side of my total views because its under represented at the current time.

Most of all, certainly don’t pretend elite competitors wouldn’t be able to defend themselves well against untrained attackers head locking them. Goodness.

There you go guys and gals… if you are interested in Self Defense, this tournament is a great chance to test your skills under pressure and nerves.  Remember…



Register BEFORE Friday to save! If you have any questions please email me at

Register BEFORE May 15 to get early bird prices.  You can still register up until May 27 though.

About myackulic

Arashi Do North has been open since Jan 2004 (since 1985 in Alberta). We offer Karate, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Muay Thai classes to Children 4-7, 8-12, 14-16 and adults (16+). Come try out a class with use and check out our other social media for neat videos and photos.
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