Judo vs. BJJ for self defense?

Which is better for self defense? Judo or Brazilian jiu-jitsu? I saw this question on Quora and I had to add my two cents.

The short answer is….

It depends.

There are some potential advantages and disadvantages to both and in this post I will explore them both as best as I can.

But first off know that you can’t learn any one overnight, in a couple of weeks or even a few months. I mean you can learn techniques, but how deeply will you learn them? Will they be instinctual under pressure?

Probably not.

You need time and a lot of repetition.

Judo for self-defense?

Judo could be good for self defense as it evolved from Japanese jiu-jitsu. But nowadays judo is more focused on throws. In its past it was the full grappling program with newaza (ground grappling), tachi waza (standing) and leg attacks.

But the rules to judo changed because it was boring to watch ground grappling on TV. It was more fun to watch people getting thrown. Then 4 or 5 years ago they banned leg attacks so you can’t touch the legs.

So for judo it’s going to depend on the dojo. Many are going to spend most of the time doing stand up techniques.

But for self-defense you want to learn both stand up and ground grappling.

So if you choose to go the judo route and you want to learn it for self defense choose a school that spends a lot of time with newaza.

The potential problem with judo is that you won’t learn enough ground grappling.

I have only trained judo at one school, CCSF. The intermediate-advanced classes are now 100% stand up. Sensei used to teach some basic newaza in those classes, but now he says if you want to learn ground grappling to go to the beginners judo/jiu-jitsu or intermediate jiu-jitsu classes.

The throws work though even without a gi. In fact I will tell you a story below related to that. But if you are curious here is a cool video that shows judo throws being done in MMA.

BJJ for self defense?

BJJ evolved from judo, but not the modern day judo you see on TV. BJJ is primarily a ground grappling martial art. The goal in BJJ is to basically submit your opponent.

It’s good for self defense, but it has a weakness and that is that it is mostly focused on the ground. If you don’t learn how to take your opponent down then you’ll never be able to apply what you learned in ground grappling.

The potential problem with BJJ is that you won’t learn how to take someone down.

I’d say most BJJ schools will spend 90-99% of the time on the ground. For example, the first school that I learned at probably spent 95% or more of the time doing ground techniques.

The rules won’t apply on the street

Judo has a lot more rules and formality than does BJJ. BJJ is basically about submitting your partner. Judo contests are mostly about throwing your partner and getting him to land flat on his back, ippon!

But judo sparring matches start standing up which is more like a real fight. BJJ sparring usually starts on your knees. Contests start standing up, but in class you usually start on your knees or sitting which is not like a real fight.

A submission can win the contest too, but only black belts can do arm locks in competition. Lower belts can only do chokes.

Keep in mind either way the rules applied to either one don’t apply on the streets. The same goes for MMA. While in MMA you can kick and punch you can’t kick and punch everywhere or attack the groin or eyes which could be done on the street.

Also on the street someone could try to bite you too right when you are about to arm bar them. So keep that in mind.

I had an altercation once where this freaky street guy probably on drugs without shoes or a shirt came by and tried to steal my money. I was able to use what I had learned from both judo and BJJ to stop the fight and control him until the cops came by.

Here’s a video about that or you can read and watch it here.

So which is best? BJJ or judo for self-defense?

I’d say both. Learn both if you can or choose a judo dojo that has a good newaza program or a jiu-jitsu program with good takedowns or throws. Commit to a year for starters. That’s what I would do. It’s easy to quit after a month or two and like I said you won’t really learn or remember much in a month.

What about Japanese jiu-jitsu?

That might be good, but as far as I know the sparring element is missing which can be common in some other martial arts.

The first martial art I did was wing chun. It was kinda cool, but I thought it was overly mechanic and everything was staged – there was no sparring.

Sparring is important. And judo and BJJ both have live sparring.

There are a lot of martial arts that could be effective. It just depends.

“Surrender” – The Antidote To A “Bad Trip”

Here’s a new video I made. It’s based on a true story and was inspired from an intense experience with psilocybin mushrooms.

So there I was thinking I had poisoned myself. It was dark out and walking was difficult as my legs were like rubber and I felt clumsy.

It was like a 2nd wave. A few hours or maybe as many as 3 hours had passed by since I took them. I saw eucalyptus trees going up and down like a merry go round, but then I started to get this panicky feeling and my arm started to twitch.

I started feeling very sick and tried guzzling water and then throwing that up and I needed to lie down.

But where?

There I was in the Presidio walking home towards Chinatown and there was this big long stone wall that separates SF from the park.

There was this bright street lamp.

And I just had to lie down and sprawl out on this wall. To get grounded. My legs were twitching and I was freaking out. I kept saying surrender to myself like I learned in the video.

And there were these coyotes that were howling. And they got louder and louder. Then I started to think they might be howling at me.

So I said shut up and they stopped.

Trippy.

I think they thought I was dying.

It really was a near death experience, lol.

Probably looked like it as there I was sprawled out on my back on this stone wall with my arms hanging off to the side.

Twitching.

Staring up into the sky and this annoying street lamp.

Getting some spirally visuals and in another demention.

When I finally could get up off that wall I checked the clock and like 2-3 hours had gone by!

Crazy and this guy drives by and asked if I was alright.

Said yep, drank too much.

Then thought why didn’t I just tell him the truth?

Paranoid.

About the video above

It also includes some sound samples from some of the things that I have been learning about psilocybin.

I made another video that I haven’t put together and posted yet that entails the details of this experience. This video touches on the things that saved me during what some might call a “bad trip”.

Those were words that I remembered from a video I saw with Dr. Rosalyn Watts talking about some of the psilocybin research being done.

“Surrender” is what saved me.

That helped turn a really dark moment where I “felt” like I was facing death to something very cathartic.

The full story…

Here is a video that’s 44 minutes long where I talk about the whole psilocybin experience.

Here are some of the sound samples used in the video above:

  • “It was pretty frightening cause I was fighting it. If you are out in the open ocean and you were to fall off your boat. You turn around and the boat’s gone and then pretty soon the water is gone and then you’re gone.
  • “Don’t fight it”
  • “Surrender. That’s the one word. Surrender.”
  • “Your ego is dissolving and it’s scary. It’s like a death.”
  • “There are no bad trips…”
  • “We are not just dumb beasts brought here to walk in one straight path our whole lives, we are here to fly.”

Those quotes are from the following videos:

I did the scratching with my turntables, the beatboxing and then put together the beats with my Mac.

I had some problems editing the video as it’s a really old Mac (2009). So there were a few things that I would have edited if I could have.

And I recently broke my video camera so also I had to make this with my phone camera which seems to be lower quality.

You may also find this video helpful if you want to avoid a “bad trip” or are having one.

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE SCIENCE BEHIND PSILOCYBIN and why I started experimenting with it.

If you happen to find this article by search and are looking how to avoid a bad trip or survive one and aside from letting go and surrendering I’d say the following…

  • stay away from the city
  • stay away from people/strangers
  • be in nature
  • meditate
  • walk
  • lie down
  • breath
  • draw, play music or sing even

Personally I have found drawing to make me feel better. That was at least once.

I think being somewhere where you feel safe and comfortable is good to.