Rickson Gracie once said that a jiu-jitsu fighter who doesn't know self-defense doesn't really know jiu-jitsu—he's just a guy with cauliflower ears and a strong grip.
A recent interview gave us the chance to ask him whether he still felt that way and let him expand on his thoughts on the matter. Here's how the answered:
"Yes. I feel like if you really know jiu-jitsu, you have to know self-defense, because that kind of fits from the unpredictable situations to the element we are comfortable with, which is applying the techniques. If you're just thinking about applying techniques when the other one is expecting that, it becomes very shallow in terms of, you're not expecting a punch, you're not expecting fighting on the street, you're not expecting fighting without the gi; you're expecting the rules, the referee; it becomes very much selective in terms of engagement.
"And jiu-jitsu with self-defense opens your mind to a different universe. You immediately can apply jiu-jitsu on a daily basis: the way you talk, the way you position yourself, the way you protect yourself from a possible attack—everything becomes comfortable, because you've already been exposed to those. Without self-defense, jiu-jitsu is not the same.”