This is a debate that rages on across the world of Jiu-jitsu, and will continue to do so for as long as “sport BJJ” is practiced.

Proponents of traditional martial arts are often critical of sport Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. They claim that because not all of the techniques taught in sport BJJ are self-defense oriented, that sport BJJ is not an acceptable training method to defend oneself. An example of the techniques that critics feel is unproductive for self-defense is pulling guard.

Pulling guard or “jumping guard” is a technique used my many Sport BJJ practitioners. This maneuver is executed by essentially “pulling” your opponent to the ground and inside of your closed guard (legs closed around the opponent’s torso). The benefit to this technique is that you can avoid the standing takedown grappling, and can move the fight to the ground position immediately.

This can be a very effective technique for sport BJJ. This is not an optimal position for someone in a self-defense encounter. For one, you would be falling (even if controlled) on to terrain that could injure you. While you can fight off of your back, it is generally accepted as a weaker offensive position than being on top. You most definitely would not want to pull guard on hard concrete or ground. Doubly so if there is broken glass or debris in the area.

While pulling guard is not an effective “street technique” this does not validate the criticisms aimed at Sport BJJ. The problem with the argument against sport BJJ is that it completely ignores three essential facts about Jiu-jitsu:

1. Live grappling against a resisting opponent every time you train is absolutely invaluable. You can train safely in Jiu-jitsu at a pace that is close enough to 100% that you can be sure that the techniques you’re learning work well against a resisting opponent.

2. This one is the big secret, the seamy underbelly of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu that traditional martial artists, naysayers, and others who don’t want you to practice BJJ really don’t want you to know:

Rolling is fun. It is exactly this which keeps people coming back for more, day in and day out.

3. Chokes, joint locks, standing takedowns, sweeps, and positional maintenance are all taught, practiced and applied in sport BJJ. They are all also accepted fundamental concepts of effective self-defense.

Because Brazilian Jiu-jitsu can be practiced in a safe manner at relatively full speed, and because it’s unbelievably fun, Jiu-jitsu is the most effective martial art for one on one self-defense.