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Is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu a Self-Defence Martial Art?

If your goal is to take up a martial art to improve your self-defence skills, you’d be hard pressed to find a better option than Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Gracie Botany is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu academy, so you’d expect us to say that. But you don’t have to take our word for it. UFC legends like George St-Pierre and Bas Rutten have praised the self-defence benefits of BJJ, as has former Navy Seal Jocko Willink. 

Beyond street fights, the merits of BJJ were proven in early UFC tournaments, which pit fighters of one discipline against others. Despite being smaller than his opponents, Royce Gracie defeated kickboxers, boxers and wrestlers using his Jiu-Jitsu techniques.

In short, Jiu-Jitsu is proven to be effective across all styles of combat. This article will explain why.

Interested in training self-defence? Come into our Gracie Botany academy in Sydney’s eastern suburbs for a free trial class

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Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu; leverage and timing

Practitioners of most martial arts will tell you that their discipline is about self-defence, not attacking others. BJJ is close to unique in that the value of self-defence is part of its very design. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is not about size and strength, it’s about leverage and timing. It’s about using your opponent’s movement against them.

The more your opponent is moving and attacking, the easier it often is to use that movement to defend yourself.

BJJ is a grappling martial art that focuses on ground-based combat. Its origins are in Judo: A famous Judoka named Maeda trained the Brazilian Gracie family in the Japanese art of Judo. Judo is all about using your opponent’s weight and momentum to slam them to the ground. 

Two of the Gracie boys, Helio and Carlos, modified the Judo, using its principles but focusing on ground-based grappling. The idea was that people, once on the ground, are less able to use power and strength to their advantage. This was done chiefly for Helio’s benefit: As he was younger, smaller and weaker than the rest of the family, he needed to adapt the moves to remain competitive.

Today, Helio Gracie’s portrait is on the wall of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu academies around the world – including Gracie Botany. 

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu; no strikes, all grappling

If you take up Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, you’ll learn how to take an opponent to the ground, how to establish dominant position, and how to apply debilitating submission holds. “Dominant positions” are those like mount and back control, where you control your opponent and they have minimal ability to harm you. 

It’s crucial to note that in BJJ, you won’t be learning how to strike. There are no punches and kicks: Instead, you’ll learn chokes, armbars, leg locks and more. But you will learn how to defend against strikes and aggressions of all types. (I mentioned Geroge St-Pierre’s advocation of BJJ earlier – here’s a clip of him showing how to defend against a knife attack using Jiu-Jitsu technique.) 

Many martial arts offer solid self-defence skills. What puts BJJ ahead the rest is how it offers these skills to everyone. You don’t need to be big, strong or athletic. If you train with us at Gracie Botany, you won’t have to spend a lot of time on the mats to see a large person be handily submitted by someone much smaller.

That brings into focus another key aspect of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practice: The sparring. BJJ is a practical martial art, with sparring at the end of each class. Through this training, you learn what works and doesn’t work for you. It means you don’t have to guess whether some technique is applicable against a resisting opponent, because you’ll quickly have experience to show you what’s possible. 

Make no mistake, Jiu-Jitsu is a difficult skill to learn. It can take months to get your bearings, and years to develop a robust self-defence skill set. But you can be just as sure that if you’re willing to invest the time, you’ll get a huge payoff in the form of proven self-defense skills.

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Free trial class

Are you ready to start learning Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu at one of the top schools in the world? Then sign up for a free trial session!

Gracie Humaita in Botany is centrally located in Lord Street, Botany. Minutes from Maroubra, Matraville or Mascot.

Gracie Humaita Botany is a well known martial arts academy located in Sydney’s eastern suburbs. We teach kids and adults Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, including self-defence techniques. Gracie Botany is a safe place to learn effective self-defence.