Mindset of self defense jiu-jitsu

Before starting this piece, I should lay down some context. Gracie Jiu-Jitsu is built on the premise of self defense, not sport. With that being said, I’ll further add that I have years and years of sports jiu-jitsu conditioning ingrained within my fiber. Okay, just keep that in mind.

So on Tuesday we were working a drill on how to regain your guard from side control. During this drill, I kept having several points come up in my head that concerned me. I felt that during the transition, I didn’t have complete control of my opponent. Similarly, when he was doing the drill I didn’t feel like I was being controlled the whole time. There were moments I felt openings and gaps which would allow me to pull away or stand up if we were live sparring.

This didn’t entirely make sense in my head because he could escape, step back, get away from me or otherwise try to pass my guard. Aren’t we supposed to always control the opponent? Especially if I’m on my back? I am a top fighter, so if I get a hold, I need to sweep you and get on top. I can’t do that if I lose control and you run away.

At the end of class I mentioned this to my training partner and another guy who has his combatives belt as well. One of the guys said, more than likely your opponent will be driving into you trying to stay on top and using pressure. They are not likely to back up in a street fight. More importantly, if they back up, so what? You just shift into punch block series position 4 or 5.

That right there was the “a-ha” moment. Of course, it makes perfect sense. Why would I try to keep a hold of the guy or “roll” with him in a street fight. The objective is to get out of it and survive, not to get points or tap the guy. It’s a real street fight scenario. Duh!

This may not sound like a big deal to you guys, but it was an important observation and a very helpful point that my classmate pointed out. So much so that I thought it deserved its own blog post and a Direct message to our head coach. These little adjustments in mindset will go a long way in helping me make the transition to this different yet similar form of jiu-jitsu!

See you on the mats!

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