1. Your opponent will likely be more powerful and larger than you
It was the Greek scientist and philosopher, Archimedes, who said, “Give me a lever long enough and I can single-handedly move the world.” His bold statement could not have possibly been more accurate. Perhaps Archimedes himself was also a practitioner of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is based upon the fundamental premise that your attacker will be bigger, stronger and heavier than you, and is therefore able to easily control you with his weight advantage. An opponent who is smaller, lighter and weaker than you is unlikely to provoke a fight or attack you on the street. Even if a smaller opponent were to attack you, he would be at a size and strength disadvantage. Therefore, if you are involved in an altercation on the street, you should just assume that your opponent will be bigger and stronger than you. In such an instance, it would be very unwise for you to try and match strength and power against your opponent, for you will certainly lose to someone larger and stronger. How will you defend yourself against such an attacker?
An opponent who relies solely on the use of brute strength will always be vulnerable to a technically superior fighter. While strength and power are important attributes, every fighter should strive to achieve technical superiority first, regardless of their strength or size. A technically superior fighter will exert far less energy than an opponent who relies solely on strength. By applying leverage in the right amounts and at the right places, the Jiu-Jitsu practitioner is able to generate tremendous force without using strength. The Jiu-Jitsu practitioner uses the weight and power of his entire body to create leverage. This leverage is then directed towards the weakest areas of his opponent’s body.
To overcome brute strength and aggression with the efficient use of technique is the core essence of Jiu-Jitsu. This philosophy dictates that rather than resisting strength with more strength, the Jiu-Jitsu practitioner should yield to the force and ultimately redirect his opponent’s strength against him. Just remember, unless you are the world’s strongest man, there will always be someone else who is stronger, heavier and larger than you.
2. Do not trade punches with a bigger and more powerful person
It is a grave mistake to exchange strikes with an opponent who is bigger, stronger and heavier than you. In all pugilistic contests, contestants are matched according to their weight. This is so a lighter fighter is not unfairly matched against a heavier fighter. Heavier fighters enjoy a significant advantage in terms of strength, size and weight. In most cases, the lighter fighter simply does not “pack enough punch” to pose any real threat to the heavier fighter. On the street, there are no weight classes and it is common to see a larger man bullying a smaller man. Therefore, you must assume your assailant will hold a significant advantage in size and strength. If you try to exchange blows with him, it is highly probable that you will also be hit during the exchange. Even if your assailant is big and clumsy, his shear size and strength will enable him to overpower you easily. His blows also stand to do considerably more damage than yours due to his size and weight. Even if you are a good boxer, you do not want to get caught in a situation where you will be exchanging blows. In a free exchange, you should expect to be hit. If your opponent is bigger and stronger, will your punches still be effective? How about the effectiveness of his punches feel?
If you cannot avoid a confrontation, a better alternative would be to close the distance between you and your opponent to secure and control him. Once you have control of your opponent, you may then work to bring him to the ground. Due to the size difference, there is a good chance your opponent may bring you to the ground first. In that case, you can be confident that your Jiu-Jitsu skills will help you defend yourself. BJJ is the only self-defence ‘delivery’ system that effectively addresses the intricacies of ground fighting.
3. Most real street fights end up in a clinch and onto the ground
Statistics show that most street fights end up with the combatants in a clinch and eventually falling to the ground, either deliberately or by accident. One fighter may intentionally throw the other, or one (or both fighters) may simply lose his balance and fall. This is especially common when one opponent holds a significant advantage in strength and size over the other. The bigger, stronger fighter can easily put a smaller, weaker fighter down on the ground and onto his back.
Even in professional boxing, the fighters will attempt to clinch and tie-up their opponents when they are in trouble or just want to rest. It is very rare for one fighter to be knocked out in the first round. More often, the fight will last for at least a few rounds before a fighter is unable to continue. During the course of the fight, a boxer will attempt to clinch when he finds himself in trouble or if he’s tired. We have all seen bouts where one boxer was clearly outclassed and had to resort to holding in order to save himself. Boxing rules do not allow for the fighters to “hold” each other and the referee will intervene and separate the opponents when they hold too long.
A street fight is very different from a boxing match. On the street, there is no referee to separate the combatants and one can make use of any and all available techniques to win the fight. A Jiu-Jitsu practitioner may “hold” his opponent for as long as he needs in order to bring the fight to the ground. Unless a fighter is skilled in the grappling arts, he will not be able to defend himself against the clinch and subsequent takedown by the Jiu-Jitsu practitioner. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioners have spent a great deal of time practicing the techniques and strategies of ground fighting. Once he secures the takedown, the Jiu-Jitsu practitioner establishes a dominant position, allowing him to maintain complete control over his opponent’s movements. The Jiu-Jitsu practitioner then has the option of applying a variety of submissions or strikes to finish the fight.
4. Closing the distance: The clinch and takedown
The most dangerous obstacle for the BJJ / MMA stylist is closing the distance on his opponent. This is because he will be momentarily exposed at a range where the striker can generate devastating power. It is totally unrealistic to assume that you will be able to block or evade all of your opponent’s attempts to strike you. In this case, the goal of the Jiu-Jitsu practitioner is to simply close the distance without getting knocked out. By closing the distance, the Jiu-Jitsu practitioner smothers the punches and kicks of his opponent. Moving quickly, he will shoot in from outside his opponent’s reach in order to obtain the clinch. By doing so, his opponent’s strikes will no longer have enough distance to generate the power needed to knock him out or cause serious damage.
The simple laws of physics dictate that in order for a strike to generate sufficient power, it must travel a certain distance and connect with its target at a certain angle. By staying “glued” to his opponent, the Jiu-Jitsu practitioner removes these two vital conditions and essentially neutralizes his opponent’s offense. Since most strikers train to execute their punches or kicks against an opponent who is also striking, they do not know how to sufficiently defend themselves when their opponent seeks to clinch and wrestle instead. Because most strikers neglect this aspect of training, it is much easier for grapplers to force strikers into a wrestling match. Rather than exchanging blows, the Jiu-Jitsu practitioner will try to negate the strengths of his opponent and will seek to exploit his weaknesses instead. Once the Jiu-Jitsu practitioner secures his opponent, he takes his time and works for an opportunity to bring the opponent to the ground. Unless the opponent has trained extensively in takedowns or is considerably heavier, bringing the fight to the ground is far easier than one might imagine.
The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner can utilize many different strategies to help him get close to his attacker. The most common is to simply distract his opponent with a few kicks and punches of his own. All that is needed are a few simple kicks and punches to get the opponent to flinch or move backwards. The Jiu-Jitsu practitioner need not become an expert in the striking arts. He should however, develop a few good punches and kicks in his arsenal, along with good footwork and head movement. This will allow him to protect himself when on his feet and also serves to build an understanding of the transition between the standup fight and the ground fight.
5. Establishing positional dominance
Once the fight has been brought to the ground, the tools of the striker (mainly punches and kicks) have essentially been neutralized. The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner will then seek to establish positional dominance over his opponent. On the ground, there is a clear positional hierarchy which the combatants can enter into and certain positions are clearly superior to others because of the offensive and defensive opportunities they provide for the fighter. The strategy of the Jiu-Jitsu practitioner is to maneuver himself into a superior position relative to his opponent. Like the fly caught inside a spider’s web, the opponent who is unfortunate enough to find himself in the inferior position has very limited options. When caught in an inferior position, your mobility is dramatically reduced and you cannot deliver your blows with any effectiveness or avoid your opponent’s attempts to strike you. Much like the spider, the Jiu-Jitsu practitioner’s goal is to trap his opponent in his web, in this case an inferior position, and keep him there for the duration of the fight.
Once positional dominance is established, the Jiu-Jitsu practitioner is in total control of his opponent’s movements and has the option either to strike him or submit him with a variety of joint locks and chokes. The techniques of Jiu-Jitsu can even be used to subdue the attacker without ever causing harm to him. Instead of seriously hurting his opponent, the Jiu-Jitsu practitioner may simply wish to secure and control him in a safe and efficient manner. Thus, Jiu-Jitsu is a humane alternative to the brutality and bloodiness of punching and kicking. Most strikers are usually unfamiliar with even basic ground fighting principles, allowing the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner to easily establish control. There are many styles of grappling-based martial arts, but none places as much emphasis on achieving and maintaining positional dominance as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. This underlying strategy is in fact, the very essence of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.