Fast forward a year later and I made a drastic change by diving heavily into self defense training. This was because one of my students, himself a state kickboxing champion, got jumped in high school by 3 people and was pretty badly hurt. Of course, defending against multiple assailants is no easy task for anyone but I felt personally responsible that I had not better prepared this student for the realities of violence outside a ring. It was then I became affiliated with Steven Hatfield, who would take my training to the next level.
My instructor even takes it a step further and has his students go through an annual chemical spray course, because you need to be able to function even when visually compromised. Whether you're in an altercation and Law Enforcement uses OC to break it up (like in the case of numerous riots and brawls), you happen to use pepper spray and get blowback, or any number of ways you can be contaminated, learning how to remain calm and fight through it is a very useful skill. I plan to implement this training myself after I'm fully certified.
- Join a BJJ school. All other martial arts are fake, the UFC proved that
- Just carry a gun
Of course, Helio Gracie knew all of this. That's why when you watch videos of the Gracie self defense curriculum, the majority of it includes standing techniques more akin to Judo than anything else. I've heard it from more than a few high-level grapplers that the average person really only needs a blue belt to defend themselves against the majority of people they'd encounter on the street. Anything higher is about defeating other BJJ fighters.
The popularity of the sport as well as its connection to MMA have led to massive growth in the number of schools that offer only the sport of BJJ. This is such an issue that those who do teach the original self defense curriculum have begun calling themselves Gracie Jiu Jitsu to differentiate themselves.
Unfortunately, the highly successful marketing of UFC1 has cemented the idea that BJJ is the ultimate fighting style. Rather than understanding any contest is about the individual fighters and not the style they came from, people flock to the nearest gym out of a need to belong to something in hopes they'll catch "Cool Guy Herpes." Doing BJJ will automatically make them invincible in a fight and gain them loads of street cred. But what happens when someone who is not only considered one of the best grapplers in the world but also a multi-division UFC World Champion gets knocked out in a local street fight by an untrained, drunk opponent, as BJ Penn did in the fight shown below:
Of course, anyone can get caught at any time and this was likely a lucky punch, but there are numerous stories of high level BJJ practitioners and MMA fighters "losing" real-world altercations, yet this does nothing to erode the credibility of these disciplines as "the most effective fighting arts." Why? Because almost 30 years ago, Royce Gracie used BJJ to defeat fighters who had no idea what grappling was? What about these news stories:
Russian MMA fighter stabbed to death in North Ossetia restaurant
Brother of British MMA champion admits stabbing fighter to death
Maybe it's unfair to use these instances to show that sport fighting clearly does not prepare you for much outside of a one-on-one unarmed bout with someone of equal size, as I'm sure the majority of people claiming to teach self defense or martial arts in general wouldn't have faired much better when faced with a similar situation. That's why I mentioned earlier about the importance of pressure testing. Unfortunately the majority of people claiming to teach self defense live and die on "I would just..." statements before describing how they would maim their assailant as if they don't have the free will to stop you.
My point is simply that we have to stop saying MMA and BJJ (or any specific art) are best for self defense training when in reality it comes down to the training methods of the individual group that will determine how likely a student is to survive a violent attack. Of course there are no guarantees, but with the right training methods we can improve our odds of going home to our families at the end of the night. That's what it's all about.