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Does Jiu Jitsu Work on the Streets?

Introduction One question that often stirs debate among martial arts enthusiasts is, "Does Jiu Jitsu work in a street fight?"...


One question that often stirs debate among martial arts enthusiasts is, "Does Jiu Jitsu work in a street fight?" This inquiry is particularly relevant for those interested in the practical applications of martial arts, beyond the realm of sport and competition. In this article, we aim to offer a comprehensive view of the pros and cons of utilizing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) techniques in real-world street scenarios.

The Essentials of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ)

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a martial art that has gained immense popularity over the past few decades, both as a competitive sport and a method of self-defense. Originating from traditional Japanese Jiu Jitsu and Kodokan Judo, BJJ focuses on ground combat, utilizing techniques that allow weaker or smaller individuals to control and submit stronger opponents through leverage and positional awareness. In BJJ, practitioners have the option of training in a Gi — a traditional martial arts uniform consisting of a heavy jacket, pants, and a belt — or in No Gi attire such as BJJ rash guards and grappling shorts. Each type of attire has its own set of rules and techniques.

Advantages of Using Jiu Jitsu in Street Scenarios

Ground Control

It's a well-documented fact that a large number of street fights end up on the ground. In such scenarios, the ground combat techniques of BJJ can prove invaluable. From positions like the guard, mount, and side control, a BJJ practitioner can exert significant control over an opponent, setting up various submission opportunities.

Submission Techniques

BJJ offers an extensive arsenal of submission techniques, ranging from chokes like the rear-naked choke and triangle choke to joint locks such as arm bars and kimuras. These submissions can neutralize an aggressor effectively without causing them long-term damage, thereby providing an ethical and practical way to end a confrontation quickly.

Confidence and Mental Preparedness

Another seldom-discussed advantage of BJJ training is the mental toughness and confidence it instills. The rigorous sparring sessions and technical intricacies of the art equip practitioners with a calm demeanor in high-pressure situations, allowing them to think clearly and act decisively when confronted with real-life threats.

Challenges of Using Jiu Jitsu in Street Fights

Multiple Attackers

While BJJ excels in one-on-one combat, its effectiveness diminishes in situations involving multiple attackers. Engaging in ground combat with one assailant can leave you vulnerable to attacks from others, making it a risky strategy in such circumstances.

Limited Striking Techniques

BJJ primarily revolves around grappling. While it teaches practitioners to close the distance and take opponents to the ground, it lacks a comprehensive striking curriculum. This limitation can be a significant disadvantage when quick, decisive striking is needed, such as against an opponent armed with a weapon.


Speaking of weapons, traditional BJJ training generally doesn't include weapon defense, leaving practitioners at a severe disadvantage when confronted with armed attackers. While there are self-defense curricula within BJJ that address this issue, they are not universally taught and thus can't be relied upon as a catch-all solution.

Complementing BJJ with Other Martial Arts for Street Readiness

Considering these limitations, those interested in a well-rounded self-defense skill set would do well to supplement their BJJ training with other martial arts. Striking arts like kickboxing or Muay Thai can fill the gaps in BJJ's curriculum, providing a more complete range of techniques suitable for different types of street confrontations.


So, does Jiu Jitsu work on the streets? The answer isn't a simple yes or no. BJJ provides a robust set of techniques for ground combat and submissions that can be incredibly effective in certain scenarios. However, it also has its limitations, such as the challenges posed by multiple attackers and armed confrontations. Therefore, while BJJ serves as an excellent foundation for self-defense, it becomes significantly more effective when supplemented with other martial arts that address its shortcomings.

By understanding these nuances, one can approach self-defense in a more informed and comprehensive manner, choosing the best techniques from various disciplines to create a well-rounded strategy for personal safety.

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