Guest post by James Duscio, a BJJ black belt under Walter cascao vital and runs Cascao Evolution BJJ out of Las Vegas nv.
There was a time when Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu was actually trained for self defense. There were no tournament or title aspirations, there was simply a desire to learn and be able to defend oneself. Fast forward to the modern day and it seems almost reverse in ambition. We are fighting to keep takedowns alive in our art let alone self defense. Some schools however train some of the classic defensive techniques like headlocks and bear hugs with a bit of striking thrown in, but are we missing the ball by not incorporating weapons defense in our training?
There are a few reasons why weapons training is not routinely trained. The first being that many practioners actually don’t have a primary training goal of self defense. Nothing wrong with treating BJJ as a pure sport, but they must realize that they are not learning the full art or capturing the essential core and intention of the style.
The second reason is most people think that defense against a weapon is unrealistic and a waste of time. My response to that is simple, unarmed vs armed is never a fair fight. The person with the weapon will always have the advantage. But we have two choices, defend yourself and fight back with a small chance of survival or do nothing and die. There have been countless examples of unarmed people defending themselves against great odds. Does anybody remember the BJJ military guys who stopped a AK 47 armed terrorist on a train in France recently. Went against a military weapon and a knife and still were able to choke the guy out. That example alone shows that it’s definitely possible.
Here are a few fun ways to start incorporating the weapons training:
1. Slowly work the techniques, principals and concepts with no resistance.
2. Add resistance and speed to those techniques.
3. Randomly introduce weapons into the sparring sessions.
Take knife defense as an example, rarely are knife wielding assailants going in predictable, slow motions while attacking. So principles have to be learned. Distance management, improvised shields (backpack, chair, etc.), two on one grips against the weapon hand, watching for hand switch offs and isolating the attacking arm to get the weapon and disable the attacker. You incorporate the technique principals in isolation and slowly combine them to reality. Put a pair of goggles on to protect the eyes, drop a knife randomly into a roll and watch how everything changes. No fancy sweeps, no inversions, just pure raw combat. Mistakes made can be observed and adjusted for the next round.
There is no guarantee in life, and defending against weapons is definitely not something that falls in your favor. Even when successful, you will get cut, stabbed or shot, but so many times the person ends up still surviving. I do agree with the fact that if there is anyway to avoid a confrontation, then avoid it, especially when a weapon is in the mix, but when the choice of avoidance is not there, you must fight to survive. Adding realistic weapons training into your BJJ practice can only help you in being prepared for worst case scenarios. Make yourself harder to kill everyday. Now go train, Osss.