Does BJJ Work in the Street • Martial Arts Journey


Does BJJ Work in the Street I personally fell in love with BJJ very quickly. I can easily see why the hype exists up to
this day, of people loving it so much, that quite a few announce it as the best martial
art in the world. After all, Royce Gracie won the first UFC
championship mainly relying on his Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and BJJ is a key component in UFC
and MMA up to this day. I personally experienced as well, how powerful
BJJ is when rolling with a more experienced practitioner. Martial artists who trained without pressure
testing and sparring, even for years, can only compare their techniques mainly on a
theoretical level, in a never ending debate. In BJJ, if you are not as good as your rolling
partner – you will see that as bright as day very quickly, by being submitted multiple
times. The effectiveness of its techniques and training
methods are undeniable in its own realm. Yet the question is, is it as good for self
defense as it is in combat sports? Having personally practiced one of the least
effective martial arts for more than a decade without questioning it enough, believing that
it is effective for self defense, when I woke up to the truth, I decided I will not want
to fall into the same hole twice, and that before I devote myself to another practice,
I will first thoroughly question it. And what better way is to do that, than to
find answer by relying on the best experts of their fields. Hi, my name is Rokas and in this Martial Arts
Journey video, I will share what I discovered with the help of self defense and BJJ experts
on whether BJJ works in the street. The question first came to me when I started
realizing that martial arts and self defense are two separate worlds. I still had a lurking question on where combat
sports are found in between this scale, yet first of all I decided to find the gap between
the former two. To find this answer, I interviewed Bruno Orozco,
a self defense expert with years of experience based in Mexico, who also has foundation in
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. During our talk Jiu Jitsu naturally came into
our conversation. Bruno said: “A lot of brazilian jiu jitsu
practitioners say it’s the best martial art in the world. Let’s say it’s the best martial art in
the world. Well, self defense and the best martial art
is not the same. For example, if I grab a knife and I know
how to use it and I attack a brazilian jiu jitsu guy, I kill him.”. To me that sounded like a fair point. The Brazilian Jiu Jitsu that I’ve been exposed
to did not teach knife defense. Personally, during my BJJ training I even
haven’t been introduced to defending against strikes. At that moment, having a desire to become
adapt in self defense, BJJ was my first pick. The talk with Bruno made me question my decision. Yet relying only on one source for information
will rarely reveal the whole truth about a subject. Luckily, my next talk was with a martial arts
and BJJ legend Matt Thornton. For those who do not know Matt, he is one
of the first american born BJJ practitioners to receive a black belt in this practice. He is also famous for formulating the term
of “aliveness” – referring to importance of pressure testing, live drilling, and lack
of it in various martial arts. Talking to Matt I knew that he will have deeply
considered this question. When I eventually asked the question of whether
BJJ is enough for self defense, Matt replied: “The street vs sports debate is something
I consider to be a fallacy. The same delivery system transcend over. It’s the same material and the same training
method. [If someone focuses on competition] they are
always working on jiu jitsu vs jiu jitsu. Let’s just say for the sake of argument,
if while they are doing that, they never put the strikes in and all of a sudden they wind
up in a fight and they might potentially put their body and their head in a position where
they can take punches because they’re thinking more about tournament situation as opposed
to an MMA situation. Having said all that, because of what we do
in SBG is we focus more on the fundamentals, what we teach tends to transcend these different
environments, because there’s very little change that has to be made.”. My talk with Matt Thornton was one of the
best interviews I’ve done up to date. I gravitated to believe him strongly and it
did make sense what he said. Yet now I was left with two opposing opinions
from two experts whom I both respect and believe in, and I found myself believing both answers
at the same time, even when they appeared conflicting. Having come to this dilemma, I decided I need
a third opinion. During my talk with Matt, he mentioned one
of his coaches: Paul Sharp, a BJJ black who is also a widely known self defense expert
with years of experience as a police officer. Now who could have a better answer to this
question, than someone who had to apply his knowledge and skill on repeated and potentially
life threatening basis? Soon enough, with Matt’s help, I was able
to reach Paul. This time one of my main focus points was
to figure out the difference and gap between martial arts, combat sports and self defense. When I asked Paul Sharp this question directly,
he answered: “I see that a lot, and I see both sides, cause I have friends who can articulate
both sides of the argument.”. This was a very interesting moment for me
already which was leading to my final answer. Being able to see both sides and picking the
truth from each one of them. Paul continued: “I fall more in the camp
of – if you have a very deep fighting sports background, then it’s probably easier to
tweak you a little bit, to make you very dangerous in the street. We run these courses where we have guys from
all backgrounds: military, police, non-military… And overwhelmingly the guys who excel, are
guys who have some kind of combat sports background, because we can tweak them a little bit. We will have two on one, or three on one,
and overwhelmingly the guys that do well are the guys who have a solid background in some
sort of combat sports.” Now having this answer, I’ve started to
realize that maybe I do not have to choose single camp and that maybe both sides are
true. That there may be a gap between brazilian
jiu jitsu and self defense, yet the question was: how big that gap is? It turns out, both Bruno Orozco and Matt Thornton
already answered most of this question. In my first interview with Matt, he said:
“The only piece that is missing [in BJJ], is everything before the fight, and that’s
a process of education – things like being aware of your environment, knowing where to
go and where not to go, understanding how violent criminal actors will come up and interview
you, all that kind of stuff.”. Bruno Orozco spoke similar, saying: “Self
defense is a different area. It’s about security, strategics, habits. It’s a very wide area.”. It seemed that both experts addressed that
there is something that is missing in BJJ training for self defense, yet that wasn’t
primarily based in the technical realm, yet something which surpasses it. Something that can be called: personal safety. I feel it is important to mention that we
live in the safest times in history. In many places of the world, the chances of
being attacked are becoming increasingly low. This does not mean that we should not learn
self defense, but learning self defense by training martial arts should probably not
be the main reason for doing so. Often times avoiding danger and knowing how
to do that, may be the best self defense in itself, and if we are smart and aware enough,
we may never need to defend at all. As Bruno Orozco said: “Training martial
arts is a great basis, because it teaches you a way of life and if you have a way of
life, you are going to be a healthy person emotionally, mentally and physically, and
this attracts less problems. A person who has no control on his own emotions,
of his impulses and does not have personal discipline, a person like this attracts problems,
and that is not good self defense.” Maybe the question whether BJJ works in the
street is not the most important one. A way of life, control of emotions and impulses,
personal discipline – Brazilian Jiu Jitsu trains all of these things and that is something
that makes it already a great asset for personal safety. Does BJJ work in the street? I think the answer lies somewhere in the middle,
like most good answers do. Will a person who trains brazilian jiu jitsu
have an advantage in a street fight or self defense situation over an untrained person? Personally, I think he will have a huge advantage. He will also be probably much more ripe to
add the extra curriculum that is important for self defense specifically. Yet if one is very serious about personal
safety and self defense, one should not expect one discipline to offer all answers. It is also a responsibility of the practitioner
himself to learn about the complete width of self defense which includes such subjects
as guns, knives and most importantly – personal safety as it relates to physical violence. Yet if one wants to be able to stay safe and
defend himself generally, addressing this question at least once in life to bridge the
gap may be all that is necessary, and then training BJJ can simply be training BJJ for
the whole benefits that it gives, which includes skills for self defense, yet also offers fruits
which are far greater and beyond, than just the question whether it works in the street. I also have to stay humble and say that these
are just my open conclusion which I am ready to change as I continue to grow and learn
in this path. It is important to question our practice and
it is important to choose our sources. Yet it is also important to learn from our
own experience, which I am still just developing in this realm. Nevertheless I hope that my explorations and
insights will benefit your thought process as well, and that by questioning you will
find the best answer for your own self. Do you agree with the message of the video? Let me know in the comments. If you want to check the great interviews
which I quoted from, there is a list of sources in the description and top of the comments. If you liked this video, make sure to share
it with your friends and martial arts community. If you want more videos like this one, subscribe
to the Martial Arts Journey channel. This was Rokas and I wish you to own your


63 Responses

  1. Martial Arts Journey

    September 12, 2018 10:12 pm

    Do you agree with the message of the video?
    Sources quoted in the video:
    Bruno Orozco –
    Matt Thornton –
    Paul Sharp –

    Second interview with Bruno Orozco –

  2. adam

    July 9, 2019 9:20 pm

    The only thing that work in the street is controling the other guy's fear. You start saying some wild thing like i'll break your bones drink your blood take your eyes out… The other guy will be scared and escape the fight or at least he'll be surprised and that's where you win

  3. Baljeet Singh

    July 11, 2019 4:55 pm

    I think a combination of striking and grappling training can make you very effective in a street fight. I train BJJ and just received my blue belt and I love the sport. But even I know that Bjj alone just won't cut it. I know of a purple belt BJJ practitioner who got into a street fight and he pulled guard on the street.. his attacker just started raining down punches on him non stop and he didn't know how to handle that. So yeah you have to have a balance. Maybe boxing/judo/bjj or Muay Thai/wrestling etc.

  4. Reistoph Milkayr

    July 12, 2019 4:29 pm

    For me, BJJ is highly effective in streets, thats it if u one on one like in mma, but streets are known to be dirty fight, when spending too much time one grounds, other will come to get u. Therefore, it is not very advisable to be on the ground for a long period in street fights.

  5. Tarrell Freeze

    July 15, 2019 8:05 am

    I've been a serious guitarist for 40 yrs. Self defense is like improvising on the guitar. When I started playing, I kept trying to find the one style or approach that would enable me to improvise over many different type of chord changes. The Pentatonic/Blues scale is like the BJJ of improvising. It's combines yet trims away the inessentials of many other scales and therefore it works well in many situations in the real word. But there's also areas that it doesn't fit. After many years I realized…. To be a truly well rounded improviser/musician takes a well rounded knowledge of music. However, you will never know it all . Self defense truly is a wide area but I think studying BJJ(the Blues scale) combined with real word self defense techniques iincl how to defuse altercations(Major & Minor Scales) will make you very effective and confident in real word self defense. (Unless your opponent is a Jazz virtuoso)

  6. MoTC

    July 18, 2019 6:39 am

    Let's have a look at martial arts in their original form, i.e. when they were actually used in real combat…
    You see a heavy emphasis on striking, stand-up grappling, throws and takedowns. Maybe with a follow-up technique, but not following the opponent to the ground.

    On hard ground, a well-executed throw can end an opponent, or take so much out of him that he's easily finished off.
    No-one wants to be on the ground, thrown or swept to the ground, or to pull guard to get there!

    Apart from the sheer danger involved with being on the ground, ask yourself this:
    If you're out for the evening wearing your new $100 shirt, are you going to be keen to roll around on your back in the street? 😄

  7. The Buddha of Knowledge Michaels

    July 18, 2019 8:23 am

    Why don't you ask those who survived prison. They have the best defense martial arts I ever saw. Instead of asking your BJJ instructor who I can knock out with a

  8. Paul Brooks

    August 4, 2019 1:27 am

    I read through some of the comments before I commented myself because I wanted some opinion from regular folks. I used to hate any kind of grappling art, because I started Judo when I was 17, I had no wrestling background, and finally earned my yellow belt in it, after being thrown around like a rag doll by guys twice my size, and a lot more experienced, before I switched to boxing, and Muay Thai until my contract ended. For a long time, I hated everything about MMA, and UFC. Then, I got into an actual fight that depended on my not losing; it was a Domestic Dispute situation that I was stupid enough to be in the middle of, and I had to rely on the training I did have, which was somehow apparently enough. For a long time, I resisted going back into training, but I finally started doing Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, after some convincing from my instructor. I showed up on open mat day, half afraid it was going to be triggering, and immediately fell in love with it! Of course, I didn't win at all that day, but I was emotionally okay with it, and found myself wanting to back. The more I went back, the more I wanted to keep coming back! I have got to the point where I am tapping out the other guy (or gal sometimes, women do it too), even the excessively hyperactive ones with whom we are familiar. For me though, it isn't about winning or losing, its about becoming my best self. I focus on small things, controlling my breathing, making sure the arm, and leg is pinned to escape a mount, not locking out my arms, etc. I celebrated the other day when I got through all 6 minute rounds without stopping to catch my breath. I enrolled my daughter in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu with me, because I want her to learn self-defense as well, and so she can become her best self. She loves doing it! She is 5 years old, and is already throwing boys off of her, and submitting them!

  9. Dannyboy Green

    August 4, 2019 6:46 pm

    When I practiced Akido I had a ponytail.(Like my hero Steven Segal). When I practiced Brazilian jiujitsu I cut off the pony tail and put away childish things.

  10. Eldritch0Golem

    August 8, 2019 11:13 pm

    Best self defense tips that come from someone who hasn't practiced martial arts combat sports but has stayed alive in the South of Mexico:
    1.- If possible do not be alone specially at night
    2.- if visiting a new city check a good reliable cab service or in a dining ask which places to avoid and avoid them
    3.- Stay in the tourist areas
    4.- for the love of your loved ones and yourself do not use headphones or walk around with your 200$+ cellphone around
    5.- Do not drink yourself unconscious

  11. Lenny Carter

    August 9, 2019 3:28 am

    Man the fanboys are real. I hate that people use bjj mma and jiujitsu as if it's not three separate things. Plus UFC 1 was a Gracie bjj dojo promotion that's all. We'll bjj comes from judo which came from Jiu-Jitsu

  12. John Doe

    August 10, 2019 12:11 am

    Some people start training with BJJ. However, a lot of BJJ practitioner didnt start in BJJ. A lot started in boxing,muay thai, karate, taekwondo, judo, and wrestling. Anybody that train BJJ also jump into other martial arts. As long as you understand to cover your face and distance management, you can easily win a streetfight.


    August 10, 2019 9:17 pm

    EVERY technique of "Brazilian" Ju Jitsu that you saw Royce Gracie use can be found in MY METHOD OF JUDO by Mikonosuki Kaiwashi who stole the BJJ moves from the Gracies and wrote the book EVEN BEFORE the Gracies "invented" them. VERY good video ! ! ! An HONEST evaluation of martial arts training's advantages and disadvantages when confronted by street violence. Thank you.


    August 13, 2019 1:50 am

    Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is the most practical martial art in the world 🌎.

  15. Imran Ali

    August 16, 2019 12:25 am

    Against a single attacker it can (if you dont mind rolling on the road getting spat at, scratched up or bit.. but most times you are up against more than one guy thats where striking comes in handy.

  16. TheShermanTanker

    August 16, 2019 9:36 am

    Attitude and fast reactions can make up for much more than many think. Think about it this way. A Chimpanzee is only 1.5x as strong as any man the same weight, but no martial artist could ever fight a Chimpanzee because they are ferocious when fighting. A lot of the street thugs some fight are not great at combat in a whole. If yoy know any decent martial artist, they'll tell you that the ones who are loudmouthed and threathening are not a problem, the ones you should be afraid of even if you are highly trained are the quiet seemingly harmless ones


    August 18, 2019 6:39 pm

    Very true. You dont want anyone in your guard if they have a knife to rake your thighs or stomach, liver, throat heart etc. Neither do you want to be rolling around on the floor with someone if their friends are still standing and willing to do a river dance on your head to protect their mate.

  18. Aleks Osgardov

    August 21, 2019 2:17 am

    Fuck BJJ. Only back laying, leg spreading, afraid to get hit SJW faggots learn it. Should be illegal in America. Teaches people how to be fags. Stand up, toe to toe, pound for pound, blood guts and glory. Strikers will always be true stand up fellas in eyes of many. Sakuraba proved that Gracie's JJ is loose as gay guys asshole.

  19. Mike Wolosz

    August 24, 2019 3:43 pm

    Question I am 55 and the way the world is going and how Dangerous it is becoming . Am I to old to start training in BJJ?


    August 24, 2019 4:56 pm

    Muay tai and bjj are fun but id go with krav maga and hapkido bc they have knife defense, gin gun defense and they take moves from each martial arts and forget the rules. Hapkido has the same if you look at it. Your job in the street to win. Akido is good but who wants to spin a person around befire flipping. Hapkido. Right away, krav maga right away. Answer is honestly you dont want to be on the floor. I dovlove bjj its fun


    August 24, 2019 4:58 pm

    Person below me has the right answer if someone wants to kill you thell kill you. Give them your money your car and youll go home 80%

  22. MrSurfingdreamer

    August 25, 2019 7:52 am

    BJJ is probably the single greatest martial art. BJJ is great for fighting with rules, locking someone on the ground, as a martial art, and as a sport. After all, that is what it is. Krav Maga is probably the single greatest military-specific martial art/self-defense system/street fighting style. Krav Maga is great for street and military fighting, with multiple attackers, and with weapons and things that could be used as weapons. After all, that is what it is. Using only Krav Maga, could you win a fight against someone using only BJJ in a ring with rules. I don't think so. Using only BJJ, could you win a street fight against someone using only Krav Maga or against multiple attackers, who don't fight with rules, and do fight with knives and various other things around that could be used as weapons? I don't think so. Therefore, the question of "Which is better in a fight, BJJ or Krav Maga?" It is an ignorant question. It is like asking "Which is better in a race, a race car or a racing boat?" Depends on the race, environment, opponent(s), tools, rules, etc. BJJ and Krav Maga are each awesome for what each of them are. In my humble opinion, a well-rounded fighter would be great at Krav Maga, BJJ, and Muay Tai.

  23. Andre Powell

    August 25, 2019 10:32 pm

    My own personal opinion: Martial art covers all aspects: Self-protection / self-defense, Spiritual development Sport to Combat sport. It's up to practitioner and what the practitioner seeks from training. Martial art has a meaning: Personal development / Personal discovery.


    August 26, 2019 8:07 am

    You spent 10 years as a practitioner and didn't think it was effective? Apparently, you were a lousy student. I am guessing it was Aikido from your video. Look up more masters of Aikido and you can see many who are experts and can apply it effectively.


    August 26, 2019 8:08 am

    MMA doesn't work in the streets. In the streets you can kick balls and poke eyes. There are no rules.

  26. Luke Robinson

    August 26, 2019 8:50 pm

    Lots of people in the comments who have not done even a year of BJJ, downplaying it. You need to know how to get up from the ground because if someone takes you there and you don't know what you are doing you are in big doo doo. A one year bjj guy can take down and kill a 15 year striker. BJJ is a MUST for anyone serious about training.

  27. dirtyjew1974

    September 2, 2019 7:22 am

    Of course it works in the street. A choke hold isn't going to stop choking just because its concrete or grass instead of a Matt and an armlock isn't going to be unlocked just because its concrete or grass instead of a Matt. Technique is technique. Same argument with boxing. A right cross or left hook isn't going to be less hard or effective just because of the location. Better to have skills than not to have skills no matter what the surface location.

  28. Márk Haraszti

    September 8, 2019 8:06 pm

    BJJ is a sport. You train for competition not for the street. A lot of people mistake martial arts and combat sports as they are for self-defense. No, they can give you a base. But if you want to learn self-defense learn self-defense. You can be great at the game dama, but don't expect that because of that you will be good at chess as well just because both are a board game. They have similiarities, but they aren't the same.

  29. Matthew Rice

    September 11, 2019 6:29 am

    I’ve been following this channel for a while and I really enjoy the honesty with which you tell your story and address the many common questions that come up in these matters. I would love to see you do an episode, or series of episodes at the Toronto Systema HQ with Vladimir Vasiliev. I know there has been a lot of bullshido talk about Systema and the only way to add something valuable to that discussion is for guys to actually go and train there. I would specifically suggest Vladimir’s school in Toronto because it is the top school in the west and his work is the most undiluted and most highly skilled. Vladimir has extensive experience in the field of applied martial arts and self defense as a special operative. He and his top students and instructors are also guaranteed to blow your mind in the most positive and life affirming way.
    Also, the question posed in this particular episode has not yet had a contribution from the military perspective.
    Anyway, whatever you choose to do, I wish you luck and good fortune on your journey!

  30. Bill Yaeger

    September 18, 2019 2:46 am

    To talk about the Gracie's and early MMA you need to understand how they manipulated matches. It was all fixed to make BJJ look awesome.

  31. Thorazine 007

    September 20, 2019 7:23 am

    Great introspection, I grew up wrestling and have done some Jits & Boxing, have never had to use it, common sense and awareness, is what got me out of tense situations

  32. FlipkooFX

    September 21, 2019 1:57 am

    Well here’s a video of a woman defending herself from a real knife attack and it’s pretty clear she knows Jiu-Jitsu

  33. pharaonicvs

    September 24, 2019 1:48 pm

    Judo is better for self defence in my humble opinion. There is a reason why judo is fyndamental part of military training in many different countries.


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