The Structure of Self Defense, Part 3 The Guard

Whenever I’m asked by a friend to teach “show” them some jiu-jitsu I inevitably show them the rear naked choke.  Its easy to teach and the results are dramatic as it can put someone to sleep in just a few seconds.  Yet what I want to show them is the guard.  The guard is jiu-jitsu.  It is why jiu-jitsu is special, and it is why jiu-jitsu works so well for self defense.

The reason I don’t show people the guard is really simple: it doesn’t lend itself to a couple minute long demonstration.  Its a somewhat awkward looking position for those who aren’t familiar with jiu-jitsu and most of the things worth knowing take time to learn.  And yet, if you are really interested in defending yourself you need to know this position.

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The Structure of Self Defense, Part 1 Standing Zones

The term ‘martial art’ is broad and nebulous.  It includes everything from meditative arts like Tàijíquán to the highly specialized sport techniques of modern Brazilian Jiujitsu.  Tai Chi and sport BJJ (read: BJJ that is good at winning in a competition settting) are good for their respective purposes, but are not enough for someone whose goal is to become able to defend themselves in a real situation.

While jiujitsu starts on the ground, most of our daily lives are spent standing.  Accordingly, it is likely that any conflict will arise when one or both of the participants are standing.  Thus, part one of this series will deal with standing zones.

In order to apply jiujitsu to self defense, one must understand the concept of ‘zones.’  The concept is more broadly applicable to all of jiujitsu; whether one is inside or outside of a particular zone dictates what sort of options are available.  From a self-defense perspective these zones will serve as guidance for how to protect oneself against dynamic threats.  More than simply telling people what to do from a myriad of different positions, using zone theory will permit individuals to employ techniques that are appropriate for the zone they are in.  If one is able to recognize that they are not in the zone they feel most comfortable, they can take steps to advance or retreat to that zone. Continue reading “The Structure of Self Defense, Part 1 Standing Zones”