A discussion recently took place on a popular podcast where Reser Gracie talked about the importance of striking with the martial art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. In fact, it was said that if striking was not present, then you were not actually practicing the art of Gracie Jiu Jitsu. It is time to process these comments and put them in the proper perspective.
It should be noted that this expose is not meant to criticize the art of Gracie Jiu Jitsu. It is simply meant as an open discussion for anyone who has received training in this particular martial art. The overarching question is whether or not Gracie Jiu Jitsu limits practitioners when it comes to taking care of opponents who are highly trained. We I talk about training, I mean in the sense that they know how to both strike and grapple. If a person has 12 months of training at a local MMA training school, would they able to successfully go against someone who has had the same amount of training in Gracie Jiu Jitsu?
Striking in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
Personally, I regularly engaged in striking for quite some time. It was in 1993 that I began practicing Kemp Karate. After that, I will learn Muay Thai, along with boxing and various other martial art type disciplines. I was first introduced to Gracie Jiu Jitsu towards the turn of the century. I should note that I was not in full-time training this entire time, as I did take some time off in between. Gracie Jiu Jitsu really intrigued, which is why I really begin to train in it. I was able to go full steam ahead without having the fear that I would be injured. This is not something I could say when I was striking.
One of the marketing concepts is that Gracie Jiu Jitsu is a martial art. You are said to take on another person who is trying you. You do this by clinching and establishing the dominant position. When you do this, you will determine how best to end the fight. In reality, Gracie Jiu Jitsu has never gained the type of traction in recent years that the broader discipline of MMA has.
Most MMA fighters who are successful today use a combination of Muay Thai and Boxing. Some will also mix in Karate and Taekwondo just to become more well rounded. They will use these when standing. When on the ground, such fighters will switch to the sweeps used in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, along with a catch of possibly some Sambo submissions. It is not often that you see the Royce Gracie that was performed back in UFC 1. There is a good reason for this.
This brings on the question of why we do not see more of Gracie Jiu Jitsu today if it was so successful back when UFC first entered the scene. We also do not typically see a fighter in the standing position, with their head prone and arms extended. While doing that, they do not kick at their opponent’s legs, nor do they rush in. Why is this? My thinking is that striking, as taught by Gracie Jiu Jitsu, is not that effective when you are taking on another fighter trained in striking. They already know how to clinch, and they can more easily get out of trouble when they need to.
This is not to say that Gracie Jiu Jitsu is not without its merits. I believe it has its place. At the same time, it does leave people who practice it a bit vulnerable when you compare them to figures who do different types of training in order to add variety to their technique. This could explain why there are not many MMA fighters today who claim Gracie Jiu Jitsu as their sole source of training. Those that do tend to be specialists in grappling.
It goes without saying that striking is vital to any program that teaches self-defense. In this regard, Gracie Jiu Jitsu is a martial art that does need to have striking as its main component. Striking and grappling, however, are best used when they are viewed as separate factors. It is more important to become well round in many of the martial arts and learn how to be equally effective both on the ground and when standing up.