Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Krav Maga vs. BJJ

I just had my first "debate" with a standup guy! I was leaving the Wednesday night small group at church, and was talking training with one of the guys who trains Krav Maga. I could feel it coming...

"How many fights go to the ground anyway?"

I had a few choices...those fuzzy stats about fights going to the ground, the importance of learning strong takedowns...I took the more personal route. The fact that jiujitsu good rape training for women.

"Krav Maga is great training for women! Groin shots, eye gouges..."
"I...don't want to be in a position of exchanging blows with a man."

I then started explaining the first time I had a man laying on top of me, breathing on my neck and how that felt. How the realization of fighting a man was something I didn't understand until actually having to do it. And I then realized that most men, couldn't understand that feeling.

And in that vein, Facebook's wonderful new interface just insisted I check this out...


slideyfoot said...

Ah, the joys of the "I'm d34dly!" crowd. Many times in real life, I wish I could just link to something on the internet, especially with constantly repeated arguments like that.

My usual response to people who start drooling over eye gouges and groin shots is to ask them how they practice their wonderful techniques. Invariably, it is through compliant drilling. If you can't or won't progress to practicing a technique with full resistance - which in the case of eye gouging and groin shots isn't generally viable - then it's useless. You would never know if you could actually apply the technique until you're being attacked for real, by which time it is far too late.

Unless you have some seriously hardcore training partners. That would be a very scary place to train, but if anybody is willing to repeatedly take full force shots to the groin and have their eyes gouged out as part of training, I'd expect they'd make most muggers crap their pants. ;p

Anonymous said...


Enjoy your blog and your viewpoint, and you write very well.

I did want to comment on the thought that 'most men couldn't understand that feeling.' I believe you give men a bit too much credit, by assuming that most men are (presumably) comfortable fighting with someone and that they are evenly matched with other men.

I think that a better phrase would have been 'most people' cannot understand the feeling of fighting a man - or rather fighting someone with malevolent intent. That initial realization of the pressure and intensity overwhelms almost any human who has never experienced it before. Just think about what you are now able to recognize in the eyes of an inexperienced, male white belt as you start to dominate them. I believe the feelings are substantially similar, in the sense that they are realizing how easily they can be overpowered and overwhelmed. I'll not refer to the rape aspect (as that is far less common), but rather that sense of fighting for your life, if the situation is serious.

And Slidey has some excellent points, which have been rehashed extensively in a variety of forums. One other point to consider is that it is usually the better grappler who decides if the fight goes to the ground. It is not too difficult to practice and see if eye gouges and groin shots are sufficient to keep a fight standing; you can practice with protection and interpolate from the results without maiming partners. The only useful 'anti-grappling' techniques - are grappling. The hardest person to take down is a very good wrestler; not someone who can strike. So if you want to keep a fight standing, then train in the standing grapple. If you want to be able to get back up, then train grappling.

Once a fight is on the ground, the 'dirty tricks' are simply like submissions; they are best done from a position of dominance. And someone who has never felt the pressure of a skilled opponent on the ground has no idea what it takes to poke someone's eyes when they have you in mount.
Much, much easier said than done. On the other hand, using eye gouges against someone you've mounted - well, that's a much simpler matter. Some people do not know what they don't know.

I hope you are enjoying the writing and continue to do so.

The Part Time Grappler said...

Every morning I squish 100 grapes and crush 100 plums with my right and left hands. That's how I train for eye-gouges and groin shots. I find it very fullfilling. said...

Very difficult to say what will or will not work in a street fight. All Jiu Jitsu does and Helio said so himself, is give the smaller person a chance at survival over a bigger stronger person. Ending the fight is the key .

Megan said...

@JJS...yep. Which is exactly why I think it's so applicable to rape scenarios. Survival is number 1.

Meg Smitley said...

Hi Megan, great food for thought, as usual. Thanks for the post. It may be interesting to you that Jon Hegan, who is a (the?!) leading Krav Maga exponent in the UK, as well as an advanced BJJ brown belt, was one of the subjects for my BJJ and Self Defence article in issue 1 of Jiu Jitsu Style. He's pretty convinced by the efficacy of jits for self defence and uses jiu jitsu in his own work when defending himself from violent youth offenders. Not suggesting one art is 'better' or 'worse', just bringing it up as topical.

Anonymous said...

I guess the thing I'm most confused about is the concept that you actually have to TRAIN on how to attack someone's groin or hard can it be?

Are there elaborate setups that would let you own another person in an eye gouge/groin shot contest, similar to the way a BJJ purple belt knows how to easily dominate a white belt? It seems kinda silly to think that!

Megan said...

@Anonymous...I'm sure it's not "easy" to hit a target as small as an eye or properly aim for the groin. I imagine they do need to be practiced at some level.

@Meg...where can I get back issues of JiuJitsu Style? I'd like to check that out. Sounds really interesting.

slideyfoot said...

I'm not sure they have all the issues of Jiu Jitsu Style in stock, but the US distributor for the print magazine is BudoVideos. Another option is to go through iTunes.

Megan said...

Sweet. Thanks!

Kintanon said...

It does take rather a lot of training to develop a system for DELIVERING those strikes to the eyes and groin. Just flailing in the general direction won't do much for you. Just like it takes training to land an effective strike to any other target.

ALSO effectively gouging someone in the eye takes some serious commitment to doing damage to another human being. Considering that 30% of all TRAINED SOLDIERS intentionally miss when firing at an enemy on the battlefield I don't know how many regular people will have the sheer guts it takes to REALLY gouge someones eye.
Add to that the fact that Groin Strikes aren't as effective a fight ender (Though they can make a great rape prevention tool) as most regular people believe and you have a recipe for a groin kicking eyegouger getting his or her head smashed on a curb by someone he or she has just made VERY VERY angry.

Anonymous said...

I'm the owner and head instructor for Triangle Krav Maga in NC. I also train in BJJ. Rather than explain in great detail how we train eyestrikes and groin shots, let's just address the combat differences between these two powerful systems. Almost no one fights alone. If they do, they have a gun or knife, in which case, trust'll definitely want Krav Maga more than BJJ. But if they're unarmed, then they probably brought back-up. Remember, BJJ is absolutely fantastic for one-on-one, no-strikes-allowed sport and has many real world applications. I love having ankle locks and chokes in my toolkit. But you can't roll with a guy on the street, looking for an arm bar or a Kimura while his buddies are kicking your head in. As I said, I love BJJ, and IMHO, it is superior to KM as a sport (there's a reason why most cage fighters use BJJ and never use KM). But for street combat, having trained in both systems, it's a no-brainer. I'd much rather be proficient in KM.

Bobby Murray said...

I've checked into Krav and found it to be pretty entertaining. Of course, I didn't see much difference between the techniques of Krav and the old self defense techniques I learned as a kid taking Shotokan Karate. They were basically the same. The main difference I did see was the mental aspect of the training that Krav adds to the classes. It was a KM Worldwide school I checked into, although I'd be curious to check a KM International school as well.

With all of that said, I still train BJJ. I haven't seen one system that can confidently train anyone to successfully face multiple attackers. This is why I have a CCL because honestly, who really wants to fight a group of people? Wouldn't it be easier just to cross to the other side of the street? At any rate, the thing I love about BJJ is the ability to practice 100% against a fully resisting opponent. I've heard multiple stories of BJJ guys being attacked by singles, groups, etc. and the BJJ guy came up on top, albeit a bit bloody. Still, if you're concerned about being attacked, and your state allows it, I'd definitely consider the CCL. Otherwise, here's a great vid on self defense via groinstrikes:

Megan said...

Bobby, what's a CCL? I Googled it and couldn't find anything.

Kintanon said...

CCL = Concealed Carry License.
In short, if you're that concerned about random assaults that require deadly force to repel then you should purchase a firearm, learn to use it, and spend at minimum an hour at the range every week putting bullets in a target.
@Anonymous Krav Maga Dude: You've built some big ol' strawmen there with your "Your enemies will be gangs of gun wielding thugs which Krav Maga can save you from!" setup. I call bullshit all the way.
The two most important aspects of self defense are Awareness and Good Sense. Follow the cardinal rules of not getting your ass kicked:
1. Don't go places where you might get your ass kicked.
2. If you violate rule 1, don't go alone.
3. If you violate rule 1 and 2, don't get drunk.
4. If you violate rules 1-3 then there's a good chance you'll get your ass kicked.

The hard fact is that most people will never ever be in a life or death encounter where eye gouging or trachea crushing is the correct response. Your cousin larry gets drunk and starts hitting on the brides mom at your brothers wedding? EYEGOUGEGROINKICK! Is not the appropriate solution.

Now, all of that being said. I'm not rolling around on the ground with someone in a street altercation. Ever. Why? Because of BJJ. I can sweep and standup easily and so avoid getting my ass kicked. Your implication that I'm going to be working my DLR hooks while I try to get 50/50 guard so I can score an advantage over my mugger and then ride out the clock is stupid. I'm just going to sweep him, hit him in the face with my elbow a couple of times real quick, then stand up.

Megan said...

OK Kintanon...that post had me cracking up. Thanks.

slideyfoot said...

Great stuff as usual, Josh. I'd also point people towards Kintanon's awesome post on self defence, along with Petter's decent piece on the same topic.

Anonymous said...

LOL, maybe Kintanon's right! Maybe people NEVER attack in groups and/or with weapons. Maybe Krav Maga's some kind of a hoax! I mean, the worst we can REALLY expect is as he described, some guy hitting on the bride's mom at a wedding, right?! We oughtta tell the Israeli Defense Forces they've been wasting their time on those worthless knife takeaways and firearm disarming techniques! We should all stop striking entirely and focus on nothing but rolling, 24/7! BJJ and NOTHING ELSE...FOREVEEERRRR! Thanks for the poignant insights, Kintanon ;)

Josh Wentworth said...

Anonymous Krav Maga nutcase: Last time I checked none of us were in the IDF, nor any other military organization where we regularly entered into situations where conflict with random quantities of armed assailants was a likelihood.

The evidence by far suggests that carrying a firearm and training in Judo or BJJ is the best combination of defense methods. In situations where lethal self defense is warranted then SHOOT A MUTHA FUCKA IN THE FACE.
If deadly force isn't warranted then hug him until he stops wanting to fight.

At NO POINT does eye gouging or unarmed knife defense become a good idea for 99.9999% of the population.
Hell, I would be willing to bet that if you interviewed every single IDF member to have ever lived the number of them that have used an eye gouge in combat is a vanishingly small percentage.

Anonymous said...

More to Krav then eye gouging and groin kicking, theres also holds,chokes,and other assortments of ass kickery...just saying.

Anonymous said...

I'm more of a KM guy myself, but I think the important thing is just to recognize exactly what you're actually training for. Sport and self-defense have different goals and techniques, and if you're not sure which you're doing, you should get clarification.

Great piece from Rener and Ryron Gracie:

Anonymous said...

Has anyone here ever seen a cage fight? It's a type of sport where two guys enter a cage and have a scrap. I've followed UFC for about 10 years now and the most effective techniques I've seen have been kicks to the groin and eye gouging. The techniques are pretty easy to execute and don't really need to be especially trained with a "resisting" opponent.

Anonymous said...

This post is so long, I have to do it in 2 posts, sorry. After training about a year in KM and BJJ, the comments here all seem valid and fair on both sides of the argument. I wanted to comment on my experience.

In KM training, everything we did was for weapons disarming or being attacked by more than 1 person. A few of my friends have been in physical confrontations, and they were always by groups of people (not 1 on 1) which was one of the reasons I wanted to learn KM. The first thing I noticed was the class consisted of cops, bouncers, ex-military, a few guys toying with MMA dreams, and 1 or 2 people like me that were just curious. That scored a lot of points for me on its practicality. The workouts were intense. We didn't do eye gouging but did plenty of groin kicks that required everyone to wear cups. People often left with swollen eyes or bloody noses but everyone understood it was part of training. The instructor said if we went 50% slow all the time, we would just be doing movie scene practice. The instructor told us to start at 50% until we were comfortable, then go 80-90% so if the punches or kicks did connect, it wouldn't be as damaging but you'd know what you needed to work on. We had full head and hand gear and I only knew of 2 times people got knocked out. The advanced class couldn't practice everything they learned at 90% since it often involved breaking arms, legs or necks, but I was far from being able to participate in that class. The techniques weren't to dominate the attacker, just to hurt them enough that you could get away. However most of the techniques would allow you to comfortably stroll away safely. A lot of time was also spent on avoiding getting taken to the ground since in a weapon or multiple attacker scenario, it won't end well. In summary, I enjoyed the experience and gained an incredible amount of confidence. The only downsides were the bruises and occasional bloody nose.

I took up Brazilian Jiu Jitsu because there were no KM schools available after we moved. There is no comparison in popularity between KM and BJJ. There were at least 30 BJJ schools around the area, some that gave you belts and stripes based on length of enrollment, others based on skill tests, and others that didn't clearly define how their belt system worked. I picked one that used a system based on attendance, mainly because of how close it was. The BJJ training starts in multi week cycles. First, I was pleased there were so many sessions. In KM, the class was offered once a day, 5 times a week. In BJJ, they had class 5 times a week, and 2-3 classes a day, so the schedule was a lot more flexible. I started on week 8 of their training, so it took a while to understand the basic moves. The best part was in sparring, you can give 100% and not worry about bloody noses or swollen eyes. I found that the higher the belt level didn't always mean the more skilled the person. In fact the 4th training day I was able to get a blue belt to tap using a rear naked choke. Another day a purple belt got me to tap 3-4 times in the 4 minute sparring, but his technique was excellent and it was fun being able to experience what good jiu jitsu felt like. It was also exceptionally nice walking away without bruises. The classes got my heart rate up and I liked the being able to understand how each of the moves connected. The only downsides were the lack of preparation if you get punched, kicked or attacked with a weapon, or if you're forced to engage with more than 1 person at a time.

Anonymous said...

I'm still enrolled in BJJ and feel it is definitely a sporting competition which is fun, where KM is more of a life and death survival skill. This post is long enough so I won't discuss the history of each, but looking at the history of BJJ and KM says a lot about their purpose. KM's purpose for general public training isn't to make killing machines. The KM instructor even told us if we're robbed with a weapon, give them the money and don't use KM, only use KM if you know they will use the weapon and your life is in danger. Everything we learned in BJJ so far starts out as 2 people getting ready to wrestle (judo grips) and going from there. I try to make good decisions and avoid dangerous areas. If I did get in a dangerous situation and had to pick 1 skill to use, it would depend on the situation. If the attacker was alone and didn't have a weapon, I'd chose BJJ. Any other situation with multiple attackers or weapons, KM is the only choice.

Megan said...

Thanks...Really considering checking out KM one day.