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How learning self-defense changes you

As part of the live webinar held a couple of years back, Rickson Gracie was asked this philosophical question: "What is the most important aspect of self-defense?" 

His answer works both as a convincing call to people who might feel like their life is missing something and as another piece of advice for teachers. Enjoy it below. 

"The most important aspect of self-defense is to create an environment where the student is able to recognize possibilities in unpredictable situations. Because in a jiu-jitsu tournament, you're not gonna find yourself being hugged by the back, or being attacked with a club, or with a knife on your throat. So those segments of self-defense, they create an environment where you're being exposed to unpredictable situations, and then you start dealing with what I should do when I'm here. And, from that point, you learn the best movement, the best leverage, the best angles, which gives you the sense of empowerment. 

"And even though you may never be attacked by a knife, by knowing you have a chance to defend yourself, that gives you a sense of empowerment which is priceless. And self-defense sticks with you on a daily basis, on the street, or in any environment. A competition-skills jiu-jitsu keeps you on the mat. If you fight all the time based on points, based on sweeps, based on grips, based on the kimono, or based on rules, when somebody on the street decides to punch you in the face, that's a different world; when somebody on the street grabs you from... So, even though you're not preparing yourself to fight on the street, you're supposed to be comfortable in your mind if something happens, you have a chance. That's the beneficial aspect of self-defense."


vacircabrothers Avatar
vacircabrothers commented:

Thank you very much Master Rickson for this post... always learning from you. Much Respect, Obrigado

February 02, 2022 08:02 AM
Klimenko Vladimir Avatar
Klimenko Vladimir commented:

Thank You!
Very wise explanation!
Gives valuable reason to learn!

February 02, 2022 06:20 AM
arvabears Avatar
arvabears commented:

Not sure if the master is saying that grappling on the mats (competition level BJJ) adequately prepares you for a street fight self-defence scenario, or if it just gives you the ability to stay calm and composed under pressure. Or both.

January 31, 2022 04:38 PM
MCGRAV replied:

IMO, he is saying that there is more to Jiu-Jitsu than the sport aspect and that you need to learn the self-defense aspect as well. I have heard this many times. Sport doesn't always translate to real life.

January 31, 2022 05:46 PM
bruce.porcelli Avatar
bruce.porcelli replied:

Put it this way - the first thing you should learn in Jiu Jitsu is Self Defense - Spend the majority of your time using the principles of distance management - understanding where the safe distance from a striking opponent in every position is paramount - - being safe, calm, using the least amount of energy as possible -- a little Jiu Jitsu can go a long way when practiced correctly - majority of people start jiu jitsu and after a year quit - they learned sport guards - points - etc.. then walking down the streets of NYC you get punched after giving some bum on the street your jacket -- he knocks you down and starts striking you crazy .. you focus on your shrimp escape and get your teeth knocked out .. on the other hand the 1st year all you did was practice Jiu JItsu for Street Self Defense .. now you'll be able to handle that situation and more just fine

February 01, 2022 09:09 AM
Martin Rampersad Avatar
Martin Rampersad replied:


February 01, 2022 12:17 PM