Take a moment and think about how Brazilian Jiu-jitsu is taught. There is generally a logical progression. You start off with drilling technique with no resistance then you drill it with varying amounts of resistance.
One of the best examples of that last step is rolling. When you roll, you go against people with different skill levels and different body types. Each of them offers you unique challenges and levels of resistance.
That is how skill is developed.
Things are a little different when it comes to self-defense. The essential piece of training against resistance is often taken out. It makes it seem that there are two different arts within Brazilian Jiu-jitsu.
There’s the sport and then there is self-defense.
Does it have to be that way?
Think about that question. Also reflect on how much the sport of BJJ has grown and evolved over the years. What’s to say that the same innovation can’t be brought to self-defense?
Japanese Jiu-jitsu vs Brazilian Jiu-jitsu
Let’s switch gears a little. What is the main difference between JJJ and BJJ?
Yes, yes I know that JJJ is kind of a wild child. They seem to teach aspects of everything like throws, striking, small joint locks, etc. It’s like throw everything at the wall and see what sticks.
Still at a very fundamental level, there’s a clear link between the two arts. They both fell from the same tree. A lot of the techniques are the same. There is a difference though. It’s mainly in how they are taught.
I’ve seen this first hand. There’s a Japanese Jiu-jitsu club that I’ve visited many times over the years. I’ve been able to mirror my progress against some of guys that train there because of that.
Also it’s given me some perspective on the differences in teaching methods. What I noticed is that the progress there has been slow. It’s not because the guys are untalented or the teachers are bad.
It’s simply because the methods used weren’t the best for preparing students to perform against resistance.
Improving Self Defense
Right now, I’m in the position where I will have to teach more self-defense at Evolve. The goal, of course, is to help as many people as possible develop skills that are useful to them.
I don’t believe that it’s enough to just drill technique with no resistance though. It doesn’t matter if the focus on self-defense or not. All that matters is the progression of learning.
For the sport, I’ll give a quick illustration.
There’s a beginner class at Evolve. In the class, rolling isn’t a part of the class structure. Now, there are students who only come to that class, and they’ve been doing it from some time.
Over time, I have been able to see a clear difference between the students who roll and the ones that don’t. It’s not a question of who has been training the most. All that matters is how they train.
So when it comes to self-defense, resistance has to be incorporated in the training.
One way that I think it can be done well is to just take it out of the Brazilian Jiu-jitsu curriculum altogether. Instead, a MMA class should be created with a focus on self-defense.
Take what’s useful for self-defense from BJJ. Include useful techniques from other arts, then train it all in probable situations.
Oh, and please don’t forget the resistance.