The Single Most Important Reason Why Jiu Jitsu Is The Best Martial Art For Self-Defense


One of the greatest advantages of jiu jitsu over other striking based martial arts is that a jiu jitsu expert can use lesser degrees of force to subdue an attacker. This gives the jiu jitsu specialist important options.

If all you know is how to punch and kick, you are very limited in how to deal with an attack.

There is no such thing as an effective half-power punch or kick. Someone who has mastered a striking based martial art like boxing, karate, or Krav Maga has to rely on using just their kicks, punches, knees or elbows as a form of blunt force trauma to subdue the attacker.

But this is problematic for many reasons.

Apart from the concern of breaking the fragile bones in your hand on the human head, there are legal and moral problems that arise when you are limited to just blasting your attacker in the head with a powerful blow.

But in jiu jitsu, you can apply different degrees of force to appropriately handle different situations. This can be anything from the least harmful takedown, to a control and negotiate position, to using the most devastating locks and chokes should the need arise.

In this video, former UFC champion and jiu jitsu black belt Matt Serra, demonstrates this ability perfectly. A drunk comes into a restaurant threatening the staff and throwing things around. He then threatens Serra who is eating with his family. Serra GENTLY takes the guy down and establishes the mount position, and simply holds the guy down. There is no need for aggressive striking or choking techniques here. Just a simple control and negotiate until authorities arrive.

This is the power of jiu jitsu.

This ability to win a fight without ever throwing a punch should not be underestimated.

The legal benefits of avoiding excessive force concerns are huge. Punching someone in the head can be lethal. Not only can the initial impact severely damage the brain but the secondary impact of the person hitting their head on the concrete after an uncontrolled fall can be especially damaging.

The Jiu Jitsu 5 Rules Of Engagement

This point is especially important for children.  In our kids jiu jitsu program, we teach the 5 Rules Of Engagement. This is a step by step protocol that we teach kids to use in response to aggression.

martial arts rules of engagement
The 5 Rules Of Engagement we teach to kids at Bam Bam Martial Arts Houston.

The first rule is to avoid the fight if at all possible. We want to make sure kids only use their techniques for defensive purposes.

The second rule is to defend yourself only if you are physically attacked. This rule is important for kids to know precisely when it is ok to use their jiu jitsu skills.

The third rule is to avoid punching and kicking the bully if possible. And this is our point here.

It’s important for kids to know that jiu jitsu can help them win a fight without the more violent punches and kicks that can get them into more trouble at school.

Control and negotiate is the ideal, and the child can even do this with submission locks. They can take a bully down, get a submission, and then gently apply force while negotiating.

So the single most important reason why jiu jitsu is the best martial art for self-defense is this, jiu jitsu gives you the power to effectively take out a bigger and stronger attacker without having to rely on the more legally problematic striking techniques.

Jiu jitsu gives you the power to effectively take out a bigger and stronger attacker without having to rely on the more legally problematic striking techniques.

This is not to say that striking techniques don’t have an important place in martial arts. Rather it is to say that jiu jitsu gives you the ability to not have to rely on them.

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Father of eight, Dr. Scott Sullivan is the chief instructor at Bam Bam Martial Arts in Houston, TX. He holds a doctorate in philosophy from the University of St. Thomas and is a seasoned martial arts instructor with over 30 years of experience. A firm believer that martial arts really does help people become more fit, safe, and happy, he remains vigilant about helping people improve their lives through martial arts.