September 4, 2022

How Effective is BJJ in a Street Fight?

BJJ, or commonly known as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, is a famous martial art that has established itself over the years as one of the most prominent fighting styles. It is known for its gentle approach to fights. This art form was primarily formulated to enable smaller individuals to protect themselves in complex situations. 

Bjj can be very effective in a street fight. At its basic, BJJ, involves the use of ground tackles, leverage, and submissions to ensure their opponents are incapacitated for a period of time. While street fights are idealized by teens and multiple young adults as fights that involve only fists and kicks, this could not be far from the truth in reality. 

According to various studies on street fighting, 95% of street fights end with people fighting on the ground while pinning their adversary – this makes this art form deadly to use in a street fight.

BJJ Techniques and Street Fighting

The lapel drag, a technique favored by many BJJ enthusiasts and competitive fighters, can be used to either takedown opponents or act as a setup for a chain of throws or takedown sequences. In other words, it is one of the most tangible forms of street fighting as a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioner. 

One can only think about the impact the body will suffer when thrown to the ground in a second. One of the weaknesses in martial arts is that chains of attacks can often get repetitive or predictable. When a BJJ fighter engages with an opponent, 9/10 times the opponent will not know if they will get grappled and put into submission or taken down.

BJJ Techniques that Help in a Street Fight

As mentioned above, the lapel drag is one of the key moves a BJJ user has. However, this does not just stop here. Did you know? BJJ incorporates a myriad of throws (67 to be precise). It has more throws within those types, making the total number of moves more than hundreds or thousands, known to a BJJ practitioner. 

Explicitly stating the martial art techniques, the number of throws a practitioner can utilize already makes them a street-fighting machine. Numerous martial arts like wrestling, sambo, etc. are also incorporated into BJJ. 

The art form of Savate, has been prevalent throughout history, with its origins in Judo. The reason for mentioning this history is because various techniques in these mentioned martial arts are primarily meant for street fighting purposes. Sambo and Judo, when they were only used as self-defense in developing cities, were created to be as effective and brutal with their attacks as they can be. 

Fast attacks and unsuspecting moves like leg sweeps make it impossible to stand still and pace yourself when fighting against a BJJ practitioner. Additionally, criminals and street thugs rarely suspect people who appear to be weak to be practitioners of any martial art. This is where BJJ thrives since it is designed to accommodate anyone. 

BJJ training sparring at the academy

Techniques like leg takedowns and ankle picks are supposed to brutalize the opponent’s leg while throwing and pinning them to the ground. The ankle picks, known to sever the cartilage and bones like the tibia, talus, and fibula bones, are executed to create maximum damage upon execution. 

BJJ Vs. Key Martial Arts

Read the following subsections on BJJ in comparison with another fighting sport / martial art:

BJJ V. Boxing 

Boxing is a fighting sport that has gained mass attraction for its practitioners’ fast footwork, strength, and speed. A boxer is sure to bob and weave when fighting, making it hard to fight him if one specializes in tackling and grappling techniques. Additionally, the punches of a boxer are precise, making it difficult for fighters to get close.

However, due to boxing being a sport that mainly takes place within the confines of a ring, boxing rules become ingrained in boxers. As a street fighter, a boxer will naturally subconsciously adhere to the rules while fighting. One should remember there are no rules barring attacks in street-fights. 

BJJ’s advantage in such a situation is that the rules confining the martial art are not expressly as stringent as boxing. Although the rules in BJJ might have the same impact on a BJJ practitioner as rules have on a boxer, the attacks and types of attack chains in BJJ are lethal as it is; in a street fight they could prove to be even more fatal. 

exercising thai boxing

BJJ V. Muay Thai

Muay thai is one of the strongest forms of martial arts in the world. Like BJJ, it has many techniques and concepts that are borrowed from specific other martial arts. A karate practitioner and a muay thai would be on par in terms of fighting techniques.

It is imperative to mention that Muay Thai versus BJJ is essentially stating punching and kicking techniques against groundwork and submissions. To make it even more precise, BJJ’s throws and takedowns, if executed correctly and to their maximum potential, then they could easily defeat a Muay Thai fighter in a street fight.

Furthermore, it is a known fact that Muay Thai has zero groundwork and submission related techniques, while BJJ has thousands. Furthermore, a Muay Thai artist goes for efficiency and power, while a BJJ fighter is more likely to respond to such attacks with the perfect grappling counter-attack. 

BJJ V. Karate 

Karate is a martial art that utilizes very similar attacking patterns to Muay thai. Therefore, it is safe to assume that BJJ would have the same advantages over Karate as it does over Muay Thai. However, Karate is distinct from Muay thai in the sense that the attacks are much more accurate and faster. 

For Jiu-jitsu, it usually helps to be a little more agile. Flexible individuals capable of fighting from various ‘awkward’ positions are sure to have more of an advantage in street fights. Additionally, for Karate to triumph over BJJ, the Karate practitioner should be capable of defeating the BJJ practitioner before he/she can grab the Karate fighter. 

Weaknesses of BJJ in a Street Fight

To start this off, it is pertinent to mention the lack of BJJ users’ training for punching and kicking techniques. Punching and kicks are one of the first and most preferred modes of fighting. A BJJ practitioner first needs to get into close and direct contact with their opponents to grab them and pin them on the ground – where they can release their most lethal techniques. 

Fighters who are highly trained or know how to use their fists in a street fight are sure to at least hurt BJJ practitioners before they get close enough to grab them. A fist that hits the chin or the nose will either cause bleeding or cause severe disorientation. As one can probably make out, getting hit and then disoriented is not affordable in a street fight. 

Another weakness is grappling techniques. While it may seem contrary to what the art form states (since grappling is one of the essential features of this art form), grappling opponents are not usual in a street fight. When street fighting, people either prefer to grab their opponent and release a slew of punches, or they take them down to the ground. 

How Much Time Does It Take To Learn BJJ

BJJ for self-defense can be divided into two sub-categories of fighters. Each one varies in terms of how much practice they need. The two categories are casual fighters and intermediate fighters.

A casual learner needs to only attend lessons and classes for 1-2 days a week for months to become adept at the martial art, while intermediate fighters need to learn at least 3-4 times a week. The intermediate level is when students should treat the martial art lessons and classes as working out – that is, they should be consistent with learning and practicing it. 

Finally, fighters who are competitors and take the art form seriously must practice the martial art at least 5-7 days a week. This is when the training and sparring sessions become extremely hard and exhaustive. Additionally, only around 5% of people manage to get to this position and stay here. It is the hardest but shortest way of becoming proficient with the fighting style.


BJJ involves various throws and takedowns to either exhaust their opponents or knock them out. The art is perfect for flexible people and can easily adjust to the plethora of different positions available under this art form. As a street fighting tool, it is considered the ultimate lethal style.

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