If you are familiar at all with mixed martial arts (MMA) you have heard of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) and its revolutionizing affect on martial arts over the past two decades. Synonymous with BJJ is the family name Gracie, arguably the most recognizable name in the industry; mostly for having created the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championships) in 1993. What you may not know is that the Gracie family began teaching their unique brand of BJJ, known as Gracie Jiu Jitsu, as a means of self-defense in Brazil in the 1920’s; long before BJJ was ever known as a sport. As BJJ has come to popularity in the UFC and competitive arenas such as Grappler’s Quest and NAGA, the self defense street worthiness of the art has been neglected by many BJJ academies. On the streets, fancy competition style guards and sweeps are not effective. Contrary to our many of our BJJ peers Scranton MMA has always remember to stay rooted in the arts original conception: self defense. Royce Gracie, 3 time UFC champion, and Hall of Fame Legend, once explained, “A fight does not start with a referee asking if you are ready. It generally starts with an aggressive action, an unexpected attack. If you can not escape from that attack and bring the situation into your comfort zone, then you are in for a very long day.”

What is it about Gracie Jiu Jitsu that makes it so effective as a self defense system? The answer to that question can be broken down into four main points: (1) GJJ is designed to work when you are surprised and place in an immediately threatening position (2) GJJ is designed around leverage and therefore allows a smaller opponent to defeat a larger opponent, (3) GJJ allows you to train realistically thus developing smooth, rapid response from your technique, and (4) GJJ allows for a range of severity when dealing with an attacker. Let’s take the time to examine each of these points one at a time in greater detail.

(1) Element of Surprise

To understand GJJ you must understand the difference between a grappling art and striking art. Grappling arts (such as GJJ and Judo) rely on the leverage of pins and holds to control an opponent while striking arts (such as karate and kung fu) use punches and kicks to attempt to neutralize an opponent. The striking arts are best employed when an attacker is known and identified and you are capable of launching an attack before the opponent. Grappling arts are designed for close quarter combat so that even if you are tackled with a headlock or attacked from behind with a bear hug the GJJ practitioner has a plethora of effective responses at his disposal. At Scranton MMA we know that having an instant and efficient response to an attack makes all the difference in the outcome of a self defense scenario.

(2) Size and Strength

Despite Hollywood sensationalism and common belief a karate chop is not always the answer. At Scranton MMA we emphasize the importance that striking someone bigger, stronger, and more aggressive than you might only aggravate the situation. Take for example a 150 lb person punching a 250 lb. Such a punch unless landed under perfect circumstance against the far larger aggressor is going to have little effect other than making the opponent angry. At Scranton MMA we teach how the pain of a joint lock or other submission can render the same opponent helpless. This is because GJJ is based on leverage not strength and so it only takes the proper technique applied with leverage to ensure the outcome of the self defense situation is in your favor.

(3) Lifelike Training

When training in the striking arts you at some level must always “pull your punches”. The striking arts are designed to injure an opponent with the force of strikes and kicks and so when training with your partner so as not to injure them you must always “take something off” each strike. This is a serious drawback to the striking arts. GJJ on the other hand has little use for punches and kicks and eschews them in favor of pins, joint locks, and chokes thus allowing the GJJ practitioner to always practice exactly as it would go down in a real street fight and thereby truly learning the technique. In the precious seconds of a self defense scenario your response must be conditioned muscle memory, just like riding a bike or throwing a ball.

(4) Severity of Response

At Scranton MMA we teach how the techniques of GJJ allow you to choose the severity of the response. If the person you are facing is temporarily out of their senses you can control them without hurting them. However if you are dealing with a criminal or someone intent on doing serious injury to you or a loved one you can incapacitate them with a suitable amount of damage. There is but an inch between the excruciating pain of a joint lock and the efficient breaking point of the joint. The is but a second between calming an opponent with a choke hold and rendering him unconscious. GJJ allows you the practitioner to meet the threat with the appropriate reaction!