You’re probably wondering which martial art to take up to improve your ability to defend yourself, mainly if anything unexpected happens in the street. BJJ is often considered one of the most effective martial arts.
It could seem a bit weird for a fighting style that mainly takes place on the ground to be helpful in street fight situations, so I will answer this question: Does BJJ work in a street fight?
BJJ can work in a street fight when faced with just one attacker but is rarely helpful against multiple. The techniques you can learn in BJJ are highly effective for taking down a single opponent, controlling them, and convincing them to give up through submission and chokeholds.
If you want to learn more about the effectiveness of BJJ in a street fight, then keep reading this article!
Benefits Of BJJ For A Street Fight
First, let’s take a look at some of the main benefits of choosing BJJ in a street fight situation. Overall, BJJ is effective at taking someone down and holding them there until they give up.
The “Finish Him” Advantage
What’s particularly great about using BJJ in a street fight is that it is one of the few martial arts that focuses heavily on ending a conflict.
BJJ can end a fight by using all kinds of submission methods. It could be an arm lock, ankle lock, elbow lock, neck crank, or choke, among many others.
In BJJ training, you spar regularly with other practitioners until one of you taps out to concede to the other.
BJJ has a wealth of options for finishing an opponent with a submission or choke, and that’s what makes it so effective, particularly on the street.
This ground-fighting martial art is also of top quality for defending yourself, even when compared to other grappling arts like Judo. Despite Judo being really useful for taking someone down to the ground, the skills can become limited after that.
When compared with striking martial arts, a striker rarely has the ability and power to knock someone out in a street situation.
Fighting Comfort With BJJ Training
You genuinely do start from the bottom with BJJ and have to fight your way to being on top and winning.
If you’re not making anyone submit yet in a BJJ sparring match, you’re getting submitted yourself and have to learn how to defend yourself to work your way into a winning position.
Few martial arts are sparring another person from day one. BJJ is one of those martial arts.
Once they have them on the ground, they will have a considerable comfort level to be in these grappling positions that most people could ever even understand.
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In most other martial arts, an extended period is learning how to hit bags or pads or work with a grappling dummy, but BJJ has you trying to figure out how to beat someone immediately.
So when it comes to a street fight and a BJJ practitioner goes up against a regular fighter, maybe even a reasonably experienced Boxer, they only need to worry about taking the opponent down to the ground.
Once a BJJ fighter has their opponent on the ground, an inexperienced grappler will have difficulty overcoming the intensity and technical skill.
The only chance an inexperienced grappler could have against an experienced BJJ fighter is to have a significant weight or strength difference to get them off. But, even then, BJJ teaches a ton of tools about using weight leverage and technical skills way above strength or size, and that’s what makes it so effective.
The only other martial art that could compete on the same level with a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner is a Wrestler, but even then, BJJ can beat Wrestling most of the time.
Negatives Of BJJ For A Street Fight
Let’s dive into some of the negatives of choosing to use BJJ in a street fight situation. While BJJ is highly effective for many things, there are drawbacks, like with any martial art.
Using BJJ Against Multiple Attackers
The main disadvantage of using BJJ in street fights is that it should only be considered applicable against one opponent.
As soon as you are defending yourself against two attackers or more, your best option is almost always to avoid the confrontation and leave.
Forget what you’ve seen from Bruce Lee or Jackie Chan movies. It’s almost impossible to avoid two attackers simultaneously long enough to be able to respond.
BJJ Vs. The Striking Advantage
Another consideration is that if you only have BJJ experience and plan to use it in a street fight, you could be unsuccessful coming up against an experienced striker.
There are plenty of martial arts that involve striking heavily. Boxing, Muay Thai, Kickboxing, Taekwondo, and Kenpo Karate are some of the most commonly taught martial arts, and you could be going up against them without knowing it.
An experienced striker could have an easy advantage over someone who wants to grapple, they just have to be aware of a grappler’s shooting for the legs and takedowns to crack them with a well-timed punch or kick, knocking them off course and into the ground themselves.
Using MMA for self-defense is very effective for street fighting because it’s as close as you can get to include almost all forms of martial arts. Having knowledge of takedowns and being able to defend and counter them with striking is what makes MMA fighters very useful in street situations.
To Gi Or Not To Gi
If a BJJ practitioner has mostly been focusing on learning in a Gi-wearing environment, then they could have challenges in applying their abilities in a street fight situation because almost no one wears any attire even close to a Gi.
A Gi is like wearing a thick Kimono around your upper body with a belt and long trousers. While trousers might be a common thing to wear in most cities, something like the Gi jacket isn’t at all.
This is what could make a BJJ practitioner less useful in a street situation if they are expecting to be able to apply their skills, which they learned on a Gi, to street clothing. It is not the same.
This is what makes it important for a BJJ student to have experience learning both Gi and No-Gi variations of movements, techniques, and submissions. This will allow them to adapt to most situations on the street and give them lots of options for choosing their technique to win.
Final Word: Is Jiu-Jitsu Good For A Street Fight?
Jiu-Jitsu is only good for a street fight when there’s one opponent. BJJ is specifically taught as a one-on-one martial art for subduing and submitting a single opponent, not multiple. It is, however, a very good martial art for winning a street fight and minimizing any damage to yourself.
It’s key to remember that BJJ is a grappling martial art and that if you want to defend yourself on the streets it is a smart idea to have experience in one of the striking martial arts, too.
Pick up Boxing or Muay Thai to add to your training alongside BJJ to give you the best combination of skills for defending yourself if you need to use them.
So does BJJ work in a street fight? It absolutely does but you need to be prepared for changing situations and have experience across different martial arts to give you the best chances. The only scenario you shouldn’t expect it to work is against multiple attackers, just get out of there!
Joe Bloom is the lead author and editor of MMA Hive. Joe has been a passionate mixed martial artist in training since 2019, having studied Boxing and Muay Thai at BaliMMA and Soma Fight Club, as well as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu with RitualsJJ.