There seem to be two general types of BJJ academies in existence, meaning every academy will fall under one (or both) of these umbrellas. The two types are Self-Defense based academies and Sport based academies.
What are the differences? Which one is right for you?
More often than not BJJ practitioners train in the traditional kimono or gi. Some wonder how wearing that uniform will help in a street clothes situation.
Sport Jiu-Jitsu will help you to develop the body awareness and coordination necessary to protect yourself in a self-defense situation, and you will certainly learn enough submissions to find a way to end the fight if necessary.
Self-Defense Jiu-Jitsu will also have an emphasis on punches and kicks (delivering and blocking) whereas you will have 0 emphasis on strikes in a sport setting.
If you are looking to BJJ for self-defense reasons, learning the self-defense techniques and drills in BJJ will serve your interests best. In this type of curriculum, you’ll learn how to deal with strikes and you’ll learn to escape and counter the most common “bar style” holds.
As you learn more self-defense BJJ, you’ll see that most of these moves are responses for your opponent’s offensive actions. Over time the mind will crave grappling with people who also know what they are doing, not just the local drunk buffoon. This is where more of a sport Jiu-Jitsu environment comes into play.
Many BJJ students learn the self-defense applications of BJJ early-on in their careers and look to sport BJJ for continued enjoyment. In sport BJJ, the problems are more complex, and thus more challenging, because your opponent knows not to hang on to a headlock when you are transitioning into technical mount. This makes BJJ much more fun in the long run, and with the self-defense foundation already established, your advanced knowledge of positioning, leverage, and timing will only make your self-defense skills sharper and more effective.
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