Being comfortable in uncomfortable positions. A quick note on why you should train Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

This article is being written to educate and inspire others to train in martial arts to be able to protect themselves and others from harm. I have a lot of experience in witnessing violent crimes done to others. A 1991 Gulf War Combat Veteran. I have been a former police officer in Brooklyn, New York for four years. I then was a police officer, a warrant division Marshal, and Bounty hunter in the area of Las Vegas Nevada. I have over 20 years between law enforcement and bail enforcement. I am a police trainer in many fields from defensive tactics to firearms training. I have four black belts. Three are in striking arts and one is in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. I have been training 45 years since the age of six in martial arts.

Self defense is very important to me. I feel everyone should be proficient in being able to protect themselves to some degree. Seconds count when police are minutes away. Unfortunately I have arrived on scene a few times too late to be able to protect others that needed immediate help. So with that being said, I feel it is important to be able to defend yourself through a striking art and a grappling art. In addition, firearms and edged weapons are definitely a must. Even if you do not have a firearm, bad guys usually do and if you are able to get it away from them then you should know how it functions and how to use it.

Today I will discuss well roundedness and what that means for you as a martial artist and self defense. It’s a common term used but it’s not that common. Let’s say you are into combat sports and want to compete in mixed martial arts. It’s just that, MIXED martial arts. Those participating should be skilled in both grappling arts and striking arts; it’s just that simple. Not knowing how to grapple against a grappler will put you at a huge disadvantage as seen in 1993 with UFC 1. Royce Gracie dominated the scene with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and left his opponents perplexed at what he had done.

In no way I am advocating just to learn Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. A striking art combined with a grappling art is key to success on the street as well as in the cage. Granted in the street I do not want to go to the ground for many reasons. First of all there may be multiple attackers and on the ground they will be able to kick my head like a football or soccer ball. But being able to sprawl and keep the fight stand is paramount. In addition, If I am taken to the ground , I will be aware of what’s going on and be able to defend myself and get back on my feet.

So let’s talk about grappling arts such as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Sambo, Judo and wrestling for instance, Just recently these arts have become popular and that’s apparently to the issue we discussed previously about the UFC and the dominance displayed by grapplers.
Many people still do not want to learn the arts for self defense and I often ask people why they do not want to participate. These are some of the answers when I ask that question.

It looks exhausting.
I don’t like to roll around on the floor with other men or women.
People do not have good hygiene.
I might get hurt.
I don’t think it works on the street.
I am embarrassed to learn.
I have a gun. I don’t need martial arts.
I lift weights. I don’t need to learn martial arts.

These are some of the reasons and I totally understand people being apprehensive and having their reasons why. Let’s take a look at them one by one. It looks exhausting. It is!!! In the beginning you are so unfamiliar with being on the ground that you tense up and use so much energy unnecessarily. This is where being comfortable in uncomfortable positions are one of the biggest benefits of training a grappling art such as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. I felt like a fish out of water in the beginning as well! My heart rate was so high on my first live roll. It felt like it was literally pumping out of my chest haha. I felt like I used all my strength in such a short period of time and I was now at the mercy of my partner. in the striking art I never felt that way at all. Now I was being tied into a pretzel and choked in ways I could not even imagine. It was over in a few minutes but felt like an eternity. I was not injured, I was amazed. From there I was hooked and I got better over time. It took me a good six months to learn positions and about one year where I felt more relaxed in those uncomfortable positions. That was very important for me as if it happened on the street or when I was a police officer trying to apprehend someone and got put in those positions, it was not my first time so I would not panic. That is a great benefit when you are unfortunately attacked and have to defend yourself. You are not in a place of unfamiliarity.

I don’t like to roll on the floor with other men and women. In the beginning I felt a bit awkward. I was not a wrestler. I tried in high school but had a bad experience with the coach, so I did not continue. I looked at the pros and cons of it and decided that I have to get used to it to become a well rounded martial artist. Now I am always aware of making others feel comfortable, especially those of the opposite sex. I ask them before we train if there are any issues they are experiencing to let me know as I just want to train and not make them feel uncomfortable. I think that is important whether your training partner is a man or woman. We are both here to learn and succeed. We need training partners to do that. Keeping the training professional and not sexual in nature is key to a healthy training environment. Its okay if women only want to train with women, not an issue. However, I do advise them that it’s ok to work on the techniques with a family member because their weight and strength will vary from the partner you are working with.

People do not have good hygiene. That’s a fact Jack! In my training center and many others we have rules. The uniforms need to be clean, finger and toe nails cut and clean. You should be clean before training and have no bad body odor. This is just common courtesy and this type of training is up close and personal. This information has to be repeated on occasion, Mouthwash is a plus to have in your bag as well before training,

I might get hurt. When people first watch they think it is not controlled and looks erratic, Maybe in the beginning but we have situational type rolls so people do not start off right away rolling free to do what they like. This way they work slowly to learn control just like controlled sparring in boxing. If you let two newbies go at it in boxing with no control they will possibly get hurt as well. Same here it should be controlled and then work the speed and power from there. Now accidents happen in most if not all sports. you can pull a hamstring swimming if you are not properly warmed up and trained. Make sure you are at a good training center (also known as academy or dojo) that has a good reputation and not just hurting new people.

I don’t think it works on the street. Well it is better to know it and not need it then need it and not know it. I assure you many applications of grappling work on the street even just to get back on your feet as discussed earlier. I think people who have this ideology have not actually had enough experience in self defense to come to that conclusion.

I have a gun. I don’t need martial arts. OOH boy this one again. I have carried guns on duty as a police officer and off duty for self defense. Not every situation requires you to use deadly force. With that mentality you can easily wind up in prison. If deadly force is not being used against you or someone else you cannot respond with deadly force. For instance, if someone pushes you a few times you cannot just pull your gun out and shoot them, It does not meet the requirement for deadly force. In addition, many people think you will be able to pull your gun out but in a close distance the fight will be on for your gun. you will need to create distance first if it is necessary to use it. That could be a problem to say the least if you are fighting over your gun in a close distance. Firearms training coupled with a well rounded martial art is the answer here.

I lift weights. I do not need martial arts. I lift weights also but I still think weights is not the only answer. So you are strong but have no knowledge of striking or grappling, I don’t think you will last long against someone that is a trained fighter or even a recreational player. But yes size matters when both have training. I think most of the time the big guys have egos and do not like to get tapped on the mat by a smaller person. It crushes their ego, which obviously has to be left at the door. Martial arts can humble a person really quick. I think that ego stands in the way of people learning and that’s sad to me.

I hope this answered some questions about being well rounded for self defense and for those wanting to compete in MMA. I have had the pleasure to train some of the world’s top fighters on the biggest stages and always preached to them about being well rounded. any questions feel free to ask I will try my best to answer them. If you enjoyed the article and information let me know!! Appreciate you taking the time to read it, Get comfortable with being put in uncomfortable situations for self defense, get out of your comfort zone to really learn.

See you on the mats!

Coach Adam Brooks

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