I think the traditional BJJ self defense curriculum (bearhug escapes, knife disarms, etc.) is unrealistic and mostly useless. I imagine they are only kept as part of "tradition," like how the R side of the family (Rorion, Royce, Royler) claims to have the "Real Gracie Jiu-Jitsu" because they still teach the fuddy-duddy syllabus Helio passed down.
Just look at the BJJ self defense curriculum against (the sadly cliched) Aliveness, and you'll see that it doesn't fit the bill. I would get into SBG's ISR and STAB programs if self defense were my main concern, but for now I'm happy to be a ****** sportfighter.
I was reading a BJJ forum where someone asked Micheal Jen, a BJJ black belt, why he said "Personally, my adult blue belt requirements are very different from that which you listed. I don't like BJJ self-defense techniques. I think it is bunch of garbage, so I don't require that my student learn it."
Here are his replies, since I found them very interesting:
Keep in mind that I'm talking about the self-defense techniques, not sport BJJ or NHB. BJJ people laugh at the stuff that Japanese Jiu-jitsu and aikido do, yet BJJ self-defense is the exact same stuff. BJJ sport or NHB techniques are learned and then practiced with full resistance when we roll or spar. BJJ self-defense techniques are never practiced like that. It is done like kata. If it was done with full sparring, it would be clear that it doesn't work- just like the Japanese jiu-jitsu.Next he was asked "Do you think because of your BJJ training that you are better prepared for a fight, not self defense, but an actual fight?", and his reply:
By the way, before getting into BJJ, I almost got a black belt in a style of Japanese jiu-jitsu. I can tell you that once I felt full resistance, that stuff didn't work.
What is even worse is the BJJ weapons defense. If you want to learn to groundfight or defend against things on the ground, learn BJJ. BJJ is not weapon art nor is it a weapons defense art. If you tried the BJJ knife defenses in reality, you're going to get killed.
What is even worse is the BJJ weapons
I would say that I am better off than the average person who does not know anything, however, I wouldn't say that I am a proficient streetfighter.And some more answers to questions I'm not going to bother posting since you can guess what they were well enough:
I believe a person is prepared for what they train for. I train sport BJJ. I do not train NHB, self-defense, streetfight, etc... I do not fool myself and equate sport BJJ with a streetfight.
There are too many unpredictable factors in a real fight. A real fight is not two guy in Speedos facing off in a ring.
I can't really comment to much on arts like Krav Maga as I have not studied that art. I'm sure there are those who have used their martial arts in a streetfight, but there is no single art that prepares you for all situations.
As far as comparing arts, you need to look at the training methods. Obviously an art that has sparring with full resistance is going to be more productive that those who are just doing kata. However, when it comes to self-defense or a streetfight, environmental training is also very important. In BJJ, we grapple on mats. Have you ever tried it on pavement? On dirt with rocks? There's a lot more to preparing for a streetfight than sparring in the gym.
No I have not test my BJJ in a streetfight. I hope I never have to. As a business owner that lives in CA, I would never want to risk the hassle of getting sued. People in CA are lawsuit happy. Plus, people no longer fight fair. My wife cousin won a fight, but the guy later came back and shot my wife cousin in the chest.
Every art has it's strength and weakness. Is there one art that will prepare you for all situations? No. To be effective in self-defense, you will have to be familiar with all ranges of combat which means you will have to learn and mix different arts. Then you will need to ad environmental training so you can learn what techniques work and don't work in certain areas. Then there is the psychological training. It's one thing to know you are going to spar or train, it is another thing to get jumped when you least expect it.
There is no one single definition for a "real fight". A real fight could involve a knife. If you used BJJ against a knife, you will die. A real fight could happen in a bathroom or in your car where you have no room to go to the ground. A real fight could happen with more than one attacker. A real fight is not just one person facing off against another person.
If you truly want to be as prepared as possible when it comes to self-defense....
1. Your main focus when training will have to be self-defense. Take for example an NHB fighter. If a person wants to be a good NHB fighter, he will have to focus on NHB. A person cannot be a good NHB fighter if they focus on sport BJJ 90% of the time and NHB 10% of the time. Similarly, if you want to get good at self-defense, you need to make sure that is your focus. You must also accept the fact that you will no excel in sport as much as those who only focus on sport.
2. You will need to be well rounded. You will have to learn striking, standing grappling, ground grappling, and weapons. There is not one single art that effectively addresses all the arts, so you will have to study different arts.
3. As you study different arts, understand the different between sport and streetfighting. For example, boxing is an excellent sport to teach you how to punch. However, in the sport of boxing, hands are wrapped and covered by gloves. In the street, you do no have handwraps and gloves. You will need to learn how to adapt your techniques.
4. You will need to learn how to fight dirty and defend against someone who is fighting dirty.
5. Sparring and lots of it. If you look at effective arts like judo, BJJ, boxing, kali ilustrisimo, muay thai, sparring is a big art of the training. None of those arts spend a majority of the time doing kata or the like.
6. Scenario training. Spar in different environments/areas/number of opponent and begin to understand what does and does not work in certain environments/areas. Also, it is great to spar in a wide open area with lots of room, but what happened when there are objects on the floor and all around. For example, I can tell you that I have done weapons sparring and not paid attention to things on the floor and fell flat on my ass.
7. Psychological training. It is one thing to be ready to spar and it is another thing to get jumped when you are totally off guard.
8. Pain tolerance and killer instinct. Some people crumple under the slightest amount of pain. A person must learn to fight and withstand pain.
9. Tactics. Sport tactics are completely different than street tactics. In order to save your life, you may have to sucker punch someone or use something in the environment as a weapon or tactic. Or you may talk about certain things to throw off your assailant's mental focus.
10. When to fight and when not to fight/legal ramifications. Learning effective self-defense is also learn when to walk away. Self-defense doesn't mean to beat the ass of everyone who bothers you. In addition, understand what qualifies as self-defense and what qualifies as assualt.
Almost forgot this golden oldie:
The BJJ headlocks escapes are good, but most of the unarmed stuff is nothing but traditional Japanese jiu-jitsu that I doesn't think works very well. The weapon techniques are terrible. If you want to learn how to handle weapons, learn it from a weapons art.
A few people can say that they have made the BJJ self-defense stuff work in action. Similarly, I bet I can find some people who say they have used their Tae Kwon Do or Kung Fu in action. It still doesn't change my opinion on BJJ self-defense, TKD or Kung Fu.