Every January brings with it people making decisions to finally take up martial arts. People from all over the Sutherland Shire come to Gracie Miranda because they’ve been thinking about starting Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) for months or even years. Others are just interested in learning self-defence but don’t know where to start.
For those people, the obvious question is: Why BJJ and not a different martial art like, say, Taekwondo?
Martial arts can be tribal. People who do BJJ say BJJ is best, and criticise other martial arts. People in Taekwondo, and every other popular art, do the same. But lost in all this bluster is the simple truth that all martial arts have strengths and weaknesses.
To understand those strengths and weaknesses, you need to understand one fundamental difference that underpins different self-defence systems. Many famous martial arts — like Taekwondo, Karate and Muay Thai — are based on strikes. BJJ, however, is about grappling an opponent, not knocking them down with a punch or kick.
Skills and self-defence systems
Too often discussions about martial arts are along the lines of, “the one I train is good and the rest suck.” The truth is that you’re going to get some kind of benefit – fitness, self-defence skills – from any tried-and-tested martial art.
Taekwondo, a kick-based art that originates from South Korea, is a great workout and will improve your flexibility. (A highly flexible lower body is a necessity for Taekwondo’s intermediate moves.) And though some disregard Taekwondo as being more of a spectacle than a self-defence system, experienced practitioners are able to kick with extraordinary force.
“There are some Taekwondo players out there at the Olympic level who can kick with a skill level that most people can’t even imagine,” noted John Danaher, a BJJ black belt and MMA expert who trains UFC stars like George St-Pierre. “Some of the worst KO’s I’ve ever seen in my life came from Taekwondo.”
Danaher made those comments on an episode of the Joe Rogan Experience podcast. Rogan, a black belt in both Taekwondo and Jiu-Jitsu, agreed. But added that Taekwondo is lacking as a self-defence system on its own.
In other words, Taekwondo can give you super valuable skills but, if you’re training for self-defence or MMA purposes, these skills need to be integrated into an existing system. And that’s where Jiu-Jitsu comes in.
Of course, we’re biased at Gracie Miranda. We teach Jiu-Jitsu, and believe it to be the best self-defence system. But you don’t have to take our word for it. Recall that the original UFC tournaments pit experts from different martial arts against each other, and that Royce Gracie, the tournament’s BJJ black belt, dominated these events.
Taewondo is an effective self-defence system, but those who practice it come into trouble when an opponent closes the distance. For instance at UFC, Taekwondo champion Pat Smith made it all the way to the finals — where he was defeated by Gracie in just over 1 minute. YouTube “bjj vs. taekwondo” and you’ll see this replicate itself again and again.
Why train martial arts?
Everyone who trains at Gracie Miranda does so for a different reason. When deciding what martial art you want to take up, you should ask first what you want out of training.
If your main interest in martial arts is self-defence, BJJ is a stronger option. Not only for the reasons above, but also because Jiu-Jitsu is a more spar-intensive sport.
Each class, from your first or second class, you’ll end by sparring (or “rolling” as we call it) with your classmates. Because there are no strikes involved, you’ll eventually be able to roll at full intensity without much injury risk.
This intense sparring is a great replication of a real-world self-defence scenario. Conversely, it’s difficult to spar with great intensity in strike-based arts because full-force punches and (especially) kicks are a much bigger injury risk.
But that’s not to say you shouldn’t try Taekwondo: It’ll make you more flexible and give you some self-defence skills. Just be aware of what you will and won’t get out of it.
If you’re in the Sutherland Shire and are interested in boosting your self-defence game in 2020, feel free to come to Gracie Miranda for a free BJJ trial class.