Listen… I want you to believe me when I tell you I just recently had the biggest epiphany I’ve had in jiu-jitsu in a very long time.

And before I tell you about it, I do want you to understand that Jiu-jitsu as a “sport” has an enormous place in Jiu-jitsu and plenty of sport jiu-jitsu practitioners are world class athletes. The point of this post, however, is to explain a paradigm shift I had in terms of understanding jiu-jitsu as a sport versus understanding jiu-jitsu as a self-defense.

This was one of those “A HA” moments where everything suddenly made much more sense. I’ll be writing about it on my paid newsletter, complete with supplemental YouTube instruction but I do want to share this important idea with you (in the event that you’d like to get a little better with a new understanding).

After having this epiphany, I started to think that if you really want your jiu-jitsu to improve by MILES, you need to start understanding it as a self-defense and NOT as a sport.

Here’s why:

In a fight, where do you never want to be? That’s right… on your back. Yet, in jiu-jitsu competition, we see practitioners fighting off their backs ALL THE TIME. Why? Because sport jiu-jitsu isn’t worried about ONE KEY THING.

Recall I wrote about the three types of takedowns (ways to get the fight to the ground) and further, how to understand their dynamics in jiu-jitsu (since they’re all fundamentally different. It’s a free article, you can read it here.)

These three types of takedowns involve the use of Judo, Wrestling and Guard Pulling (yes, this is another route of getting a fight to the ground).

In jiu-jitsu, we incorporate all 3 because our rulesets aren’t restrictive. Therefore, guard pulling, especially for sport can be highly effective.

BUT, what’s the collateral damage? Too many jiu-jitsu practitioners get used to fighting off their backs. And in an actual fight, this can be a bad thing. You never want to be on your back in a street fight. This is why when I teach guard pulling in class, I ALWAYS do it with a caveat of:


Being on your back in a fight is the worst possible place to be in. But, in jiu-jitsu, we get complacent and get way too comfortable fighting off our backs because there’s no incentive to get out from the bottom position. Therefore, when you train, this complacency leads to poor use of some incredibly important fundamentals.

“If you want to know if your fundamentals in jiu-jitsu are good or bad, incorporate striking”. -Me, two weeks ago


People asked me “what does that mean?”

It means that if you want to know if you have good jiu-jitsu, then you can incorporate strikes. If you’re getting hit, then guess what… your fundamentals are bad.

This realization came to me training with an MMA coach a few weeks ago. We incorporated strikes into some grappling and I realized that I had to change my entire game-plan. Within just a few short seconds of starting our situational sparring, if I was training for “sport” I was going to get hit. However, if I started training to defend myself (and those strikes), then I didn’t get hit and further, I was hitting sweeps and submissions at a much higher rate. Who knew?


I tested this theory with a couple of my private students and after threatening them with strikes, they suddenly improved… almost magically.

I’ll be sharing this magic on Wednesdays paid newsletter complete with supplemental instruction on my private YouTube channel. You won’t want to miss this.

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