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Back to Basics: Self Defense


There is a long-standing debate among practitioners of the gentle art when it comes to the alleged division between self-defense and sport jiu jitsu.  I, for one, don't care much for how the distinction is often employed, rhetorically speaking--which is often part of a marketing scheme rather than something grounded in how jiu jitsu is often taught and practiced. But I nevertheless agree that self-defense ought to be part of any jiu jitsu curriculum.

Whether the old school self defense techniques are used to empower women, protect children from bullies, or prepare people more generally for real world altercations if and when they lamentably occur, the self-defense aspect of the traditional approach to jiu jitsu--which treats jiu jitsu as a true martial art rather than merely a game to be played out on the mats--is important. Fortunately, the self-defense curriculum is relatively small (compared to the entirety of jiu jitsu--which is vast). So, while it obviously takes time, work, and persistence to master the self-defense techniques, learning the basics is pretty straight forward.

Unsurprisingly, the bible of self-defense when it comes to jiu jitsu is Gracie Jiu-Jitsu: The Master Text by Grand Master Helio Gracie. The entire books comes in at less than 300 pages and covers even fewer techniques (with 1,200+ photos). It covers striking, take downs, ground work, and weapons defense. So, if you want a book to help you on your way to learning the self-defense aspect of jiu jitsu, this book is a must have.

In the meantime, I thought it would be helpful for some of our new students at Devine Jiu Jitsu Charleston (as well as other readers of JJJ), if I posted some videos that cover some of the fundamental techniques of the self-defense curriculum. If your school isn't covering any of these techniques you should encourage your instructors to add self-defense to the curriculum. If they're unwilling to do, you might consider finding a new school. For while the more sportive aspect of contemporary jiu jitsu is inherently valuable (and fun) in its own right, there ought to be some focus on the basics of self-defense for every practitioner of the gentle art.

The videos below show techniques taught by Grand Master Helio Gracie (in the first four videos) as well as two videos by his second eldest son--Grand Master Relson Gracie (who explains the importance of self-defense in the first video and does a self-defense demonstration in the second). The final video is also especially useful. The Migliarese brothers (both Relson black belts) demonstrate 80 self-defense techniques in quick succession. So, watch, learn, and go train!  The videos are below the fold...









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Many people misconstrue that the self-defence tactics for men and women are the same. However, personally we believe that self-defence for women is a different and complex technique. A brawl between two men, and that of a woman defending herself from a man – are two very disparate scenarios. Almost all women, at some point or the other, become victims of violent crimes. Incidents of eve teasing and rape have become very common. The best way out is to empower oneself with the right information & technique.

By conducting Self-Defence trainings and camps at schools, colleges, communities, and public places, we aim to reach out to all men, women, and children, of our society, to prepare them physically & mentally to confront untoward incidents. We believe that parents should allow their girl child to master any form of martial art, which would enable her to protect herself from violence and harassment.

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