Jiu Jitsu in self defense: Basketball Leglock Incident

A basketball game turned rhetorical shouting match which soon turned into a physical confrontation when what clearly appears to be the more aggressive of the two takes a swing at the other.  The fight quickly goes to the ground and the aggressor ends up in a leg lock, and quickly subsides when he realizes he’s within seconds of not playing basketball for several months, and potentially never playing at whatever level he is currently playing (due to the reduced mobility he may later have to deal with).

Social media profiles quickly blew up with the message “sport jiu jitsu works for street self defense,” to which some critics responded with scathing reviews of how BJJ practitioner reacted.  One of the main criticisms: he did not have his hands up, ready for the attempted sucker punch.

But this largely misses the point.  While it’s true that in MMA you train to fight with your hands up, ready to strike or defend, impromptu fights like this don’t always have a “ready, set, begin!.”  The aggressor took a sucker punch, and the trained BJJ [practitioner successfully defended himself.  That he was able to do this despite being taken by ‘surprise’ goes to his credit.

That said, the sucker punch attempt wasn’t entirely unexpected.  It came after he told the aggressor “I’ll whoop yo ass,” (which clearly referred to his assumed result of a one-on-one game with the aggressor, not an altercation) after which the aggressor attempted physical force.  In other words, this was an adult version of a schoolyard fight.  Testosterone was running high and the aggressor was clearly pushing the intensity, with the defender mostly just replying to this aggressive behavior.  This is simply part of what Rory Miller calls “The Monkey Dance,” and this case it took place on a basketball court, where a sea of raging testosterone renders aggressive verbal confrontations of this sort rather common.

So regardless of that we think of the defender’s actions, he was playing along with the rules of this ecosystem, in a manner that neither entailed overly aggressive action, nor an overly passive response which may have resulted in social consequences and a blow to his own dignity (or least, ego).  Those who criticize him for not acting a manner more conducive to 1- a combat athlete ready with his hands up or 2- The “model citizen” who would never find himself in such a testosterone-filled mind field in the first place are ignoring reality for those who inhabit such social spheres.

Time and again, BJJ and MMA training in general have proven effective in street combat scenarios.

Here we have a store clerk defending his co-worker from attackers.

Here we have an MMA fighter fighting a much bigger man who’d been threatening him.  This fight takes place in MMA format (not a street fight) but it does show the effectiveness of MMA, as Neer beats down an opponent with and 80 pound and 9 inch advantage on him.

The long-winded point here is that this was an example of a man’s sport-oriented Jiu Jitsu working quite well in a ‘street’ self defense situation.

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