Gracie Jiu Jitsu isn’t just for the athletic, the strong, the young, or the GIANT!
Helio Gracie, who launched Jiu Jitsu into the mainstream along with his sons, was not a large man. Tipping the scales at 145lbs and a height of 5’9 he was average in stature. What he accomplished is the stuff of martial arts legends and the point I’m going to make is beyond the fact he was an immigrant to the U.S, learned a foreign martial arts style (Jiu Jitsu was originally from Japan), and completely disrupted that system and evolved the ground game. Then along with his sons he developed the idea for the UFC and lit the world stage of MMA on fire. What I’m saying is, Helio Gracie and the authentic pioneers still pushing the art did something even more incredible than all of this!
Quest for authenticity:
I have been on a journey since the 1980’s to find “real” martial arts. There’s a number of reasons for this like having a fraudulent karate instructor who lied about teaching Jeet Kune Do (JKD) like we do at RCW. Another contributor was an MMA school where I was supposedly learning BJJ and Grappling. Yet, it didn’t seem to work on students bigger or more athletic than myself. I looked inward for blame and surely thought I must be doing something wrong! This is the nightmare that keeps me awake at night, someone is out there who hasn’t found this piece of the puzzle yet. They think Krav Maga and all the confidence they instill in their class is ready for genuine reality. In my career path I have learned the different between feeling confident, and having skill. You have to be certain without a shred of doubt that your material is going to work for you when you need it.
Real self defense prepares you to survive any situation
GM Helio Gracie’s biggest contribution to the world was packaging a system that could serve any one, any size. Other greats have been able to do this like Dan Inosanto who is the heir apparent to JKD. Gracie Jiu Jitsu/BJJ when done correctly though, is such an efficient form of defense that you almost don’t need anything else! That’s a monster claim, and I’ll address it momentarily, but for now check out our own Coach Holly demonstrating one possibility for escaping the bear hug. This hold can be used in a variety of ways, but typically on the street it is used to drag people somewhere they don’t want to go.
It’s one possible escape for the bear hug as shown here, and there are numerous others and perspectives that include striking. So why not do those? Well for one, this is the method as Helio Gracie and his successor Pedro Sauer teach it. Secondly, and this is the struggle for real BJJ, it often looks like there’s something else you could do like hit the groin or the throat. When someone grabs you correctly, it is impossible to do those things. Think about this, those moves were legal in the first several years of the UFC, but how come Royce Gracie didn’t get hit in the groin or the throat? Because the technique works! At our academy we believe a move or technique must satisfy a few requirements. It should be based on leverage, a connection to the opponent using weight and scientific principle, it should also be effective when done slowly against a full on 100% resisting partner. Sometimes when you’re looking from the outside, you can’t get a sense for how it feels. You might think to yourself it looks easy to fly a plane or drive a formula one race car, but behind the seat of the machine it’s a whole other world. Jiu Jitsu is like that, it’s simple and effective, but sometimes slow and once you have a feel for it you won’t settle for anything less.
Using BJJ as a way
Back to the packaging of Gracie Jiu Jitsu, when it’s authentic the curriculum encompasses all manner of scenarios. For instance on our white to blue belt exam, the first major milestone of your journey, we emphasize about 35 standing defensive maneuvers. Out of list of 88 total moves this is a huge percentage of the exam. This is what sets RCW apart from schools that do BJJ solely for tournaments. GM Gracie and Pedro Sauer believe that the self defense aspect is one of the most important pillars of the art.
If you get in an altercation out on the street there’s no points, and you certainly wouldn’t sit down on the ground and expect your assailant to walk in and grapple with you. Because of this we feel it necessary that all students at RCW have these stand up elements like the one shown in the video. Eventually all students will do these techniques under a high level of stress and pressure, because they’re ready for it and they have to KNOW that it works.
This is what I mean when I wrote that if you only had Gracie Jiu Jitsu as a form of defense it would be enough. We can ponder things like John Wick, but how many of us are going to whip out our .45’s and go guns blazing. Nobody, self defense is going to come in the form of someone grabbing you on the street, or a single person trying to hit you. If you’re smaller, or female, odds are that the person is trying to intimidate you with their size and strength. In altercations like these the techniques that come out of Jiu Jitsu address the most common situations you could ever get into. And because the movements aren’t size dependent, anyone can feel confident in their own skin.
BJJ = Gracie Jiu Jitsu
Sometimes. Maybe. It depends. At RCW we were trained by the source, we have two Gracie certified Black Belts on site teaching classes each week. The curriculum that was passed down to us features a strong back bone in self defense that continues even on the ground. Meaning when we are “rolling,” the sparring in Jiu Jitsu, we are always aware of how to defend strikes and get to the best position for an advantage. Many sport based BJJ schools throw out this material altogether and focus on winning certain competitions by points alone. They don’t do any stand up defense and you’d be lucky to find a school that has solid takedowns found in wrestling. Usually these places have a few athletic students, frequent injury, and less than 1% of people that come through the door progress through these systems.
The knowledge of self defense prevents your joints and ligaments from being vulnerable to injury. In fact I have had several intermediate to black belt students visit our school and the ones from outside the Gracie method have NEVER seen the self defense positions like we offer. Be very wary of schools where BJJ means a lot of grip strength, jumping around, flashy agility, and moves dependent on flexibility. This is not the art, and these athletes generally don’t hold up well tot he test of time. Pedro Sauer opens seminars with “you need to be spoiled by good mechanics,” built on leverage, finesse, and skeletal structure. Once you get a taste for this elusive style of Jiu Jitsu you’ll be after it’s rewards forever AND you’ll be able to enjoy a long and healthy relationship with an art millions around the world love.
Don’t take our word for it.
In closing, one of my favorite quotes from Master Sauer is a simple “let’s see if that’s true.” Everything must be tested, much like the origins of JKD, the early days of the UFC, we need to put ourselves out there. At RCW we do exactly that, come see for yourself any time the difference in our Jiu Jitsu. Maybe you’re new to the sport, maybe you’ve been injured before, maybe you moved right after you achieved your purple belt, whatever the reason we welcome you with open arms.
In fact, we offer a free trial year round and typically the first 30 days for $1 dollar to prove we have the goods to keep people around. You can get yours right here –>FREE TRIAL<–
Thanks as always for reading!
Professor Joe Heller