Saturday, April 8, 2017

Is grappling effective in self defense?

I've often heard people talk about grappling's use in self defense. Some say it's a bad idea and others say it's a good idea. Is grappling effective in self defense? I will give my stance on the subject.

It all depends on many factors. I can't give you a resounding "yes! It's effective!" or a "no you should never grapple in self defense.." It's what you make of it as a practitioner that determines whether or not it's effective for self defense. What i can say is that much of what is taught in grappling arts such as Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Judo, Combat Sambo, etc. will most likely not work in self defense.

You've probably seen or underwent some training involving stand up grappling as shown in this video. You take your opponent down and apply grappling maneuvers in order to apply a firm grappling hold. In addition, you will probably be given rules that forbid you from striking or be expected to primarily focus on grappling. The problem with this is that 1) There's no soft mat in the street to break your fall. There might be solid concrete or glass that could cause injury or knock you out if your head makes full contact with it. 2) Your training with grapplers, not strikers. Your attacker is probably not going to move around trying to "feel you out" (at least not in America.) Most likely, your attacker will either attack by striking or with a deadly weapon. If your attacker does use grappling and goes for a takedown, it's probably going to be so he or she can continue striking you!    

Will that type of training prepare you for self defense? Most likely not. This does not mean that grappling is completely useless in self defense. Sure you might be able to apply an armbar every now and then but not against every attacker. The effectiveness of grappling depends on several things and more

1) The purpose of grappling
2) How you use it to end the threat quickly
3) Controlling the range between you and your attacker
4) Controlling your attacker.

For example, if someone tries to apply a rear naked chokehold then i'd use a Jiu Jitsu throw. It'd take too much time to figure out how to escape using some fancy grappling techniques then apply a chokehold of my own to make my opponent pass out until a few seconds. It's alot more effective for me at least to throw my attacker to the ground and go into my kicking or striking range (ex. stomp kick to the head.) If you want to learn more, read my post "grappling for self defense vs. grappling for UFC" (

In conclusion, grappling's effectiveness depends on how you use it. There's no martial art style that is guaranteed to make grappling 100% effective for you in self defense. Once you understand the basic principles of grappling and combat, you can understand how to make grappling work for you.

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