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Self Defense: An Overview

There are only 3 ways to physically protect yourself in a self-defense situation: Striking, Grappling and Weapons.  This article will describe the differences and help you to decide what is best for you.

WEAPONS are great if you have one out and ready when you are attacked.  If your weapon of choice is not out and ready then it is useless.

STRIKING uses punches, kicks, elbows, knees, headbutts, etc. to do damage to your opponent.  The position is usually standing vs standing.    


– Striking on your feet lets you keep distance and be mobile.  This is important if there are multiple attackers.


– Striking does damage to the other person but you will also take on damage.  Newton’s 3rd law tells us that when we hit someone, the energy goes into us as well as them. 

– It is hard to get good.  You must practice exactly how you want to perform.  You have to strike with 100% intensity and your body will take time to adjust to be able to take on the damage.  You must also spar at high intensity against a resisting opponents.  Protective gear can help here but it is still a very hard and brutal process to get good at striking.

– It’s not scalable.  Striking only works if you go 100%.  You can’t punch someone at 20% and hope that it will be effective.

GRAPPLING can be divided into 3 major categories: Jiu Jitsu, Wrestling and Judo

Jiu Jitsu is all about efficiently.  leverage and timing are used to overcome larger opponents.  In a fight, the person that does not know jiu jitsu will quickly tire and then be defeated with a finishing hold (choke or limb manipulation).

Wrestling is one of the most effective ways of getting your opponent on the ground.  Technique and conditioning are paramount for wrestlers as they setup and execute their takedowns.

Judo is also a great tool for getting the fight to the ground.  Grips and timing are the main tools of a judo master. 


 Grappling is very scalable.  You can use just enough force to end the fight.  You can use a little force to end a school yard fight or totally incapacitate your opponent if the situation calls for such a response.

– Grappling constantly beats striking.  By controlling the space, the grappler will either be far away so they are safe from strikes or so close that the strikes have no effect.  Boxers do this by grabbing onto their opponent (See almost any boxing match ever).  And the Gracies have done this time and time again in MMA fights (See Gracies In Action, UFC and Pride).  Side note: It is effective but boring to watch.  So we have seen rule changes that disadvantage the grappler in modern MMA.

– It is effective because the training is 100%.  Because no damage is done until a finishing hold is applied, the grappler can train 100% everyday without injury.  This is great for physical health and gives the practitioner a lot of confidence that the technique will work if the time comes to use it.


– It is not a good idea to take the fight to the ground if there is a possibility of multiple attackers.

So what one should you do?  Ideally you would know how to do all of them well.  But most folks do not have enough time for that.  If you want to be confident in your self-defense skills then you must have some kind of grappling.  You should try all three types and see what combination is best for your personality.  Some folks have an extreme personality and fit perfectly into one of the categories but most folks are a little bit of the three.  Here at GracieUA we encourage you to explore all your self defense options and have experts that are able to personalize a curriculum just for you.

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