Jocko Willink is a former Navy Seal with his own podcast (The Jocko Podcast), but he’s also a high level Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt.
In the following segment he talks with Echo Charles about why Jiu-jitsu is the most important martial art to learn first.
Just click play on the video below to start the conversation at the correct point, but for your convenience we’ve also summarised what was said if you scroll down below the video.
A Podcast Listener Asks
Is BJJ really practical for street defense where there are no rules? My understanding is that it doesn’t fare well against knives and multiple attackers compared to something like krav maga, muay thai, or boxing…
Jocko Willink Answers
This is a good question, and I get it a lot…
OK, we’re talking about true self defense here.
First and foremost, most important, is situational awareness; putting yourself in good situations where bad things are not going to happen to you and being aware of your surroundings. Doing that to the best of your ability is a very important first step in self defense.
Second: guns. If you are a person that really needs to defend yourself, you live in a horrible area with violent people around, you’re a very small person, or elderly, or have some sort of physical limitation then you’re going to defend yourself using a gun. That’s just the way it is.
That being said, maybe you can’t have a gun, maybe you don’t have a gun, or maybe you don’t want to pull a gun out (even though a gun is a great deterrent, and most people who see that you have a gun are not going to want to fight you anymore).
But obviously you can’t go around yanking out a gun at everything that happens and you don’t always have them with you. For instance in certain places and certain states you’re not allowed to have a gun. If you’re surfing in the water then you’re not going to have a gun.
So what do you do? How does jiu-jitsu stack up against these other martial arts?
I say that you should learn jiu-jitsu first; it should be the first martial art you learn to defend yourself. There are a number of reasons for that…
Jiu-jitsu is probably the most complex martial art. It’s the most 3 dimensional martial art, there’s a ton to learn, and it takes longer to learn.
But the primary reason to learn jiu-jitsu first is because of the nature of self defense situations…
We’re born with our primary form of self defense that’ll keep us safe from most situations: it is running.
We’re talking about self defense here, not offense. So if I square off with you with the intention to fight you then you can just run away. If I have three friends with me then you can run away. If I have a knife and want to stab you, you should run away!
All these attacks are disconnected: there’s nothing keeping you there with your attacker, so run away to a public place where other people can help you.
But this all changes when someone grabs you – all of a sudden you can no longer run away. Now you need to make them ‘ungrab’ you – to make them let go of you. And you do that by knowing how to grapple and how to use jiu-jitsu.
That’s why the first thing you should learn is jiu-jitsu; if someone isn’t grabbing you then run away from them!
What if that person knocks you down and gets on top of you then you can’t run anymore. What do you do now? You have to grapple them. You have to know jiu-jitsu to get them off of you, put them to sleep or break their arm.
Once you know jiu-jitsu then absolutely you should go learn boxing, muay Thai, krav maga, escrima, and everything you can about fighting. But set your base with the one that you’re going to need if someone grabs you.
The other thing about jiu-jitsu is that it’s pretty easy to add in some of the other, more animalistic self defense techniques. If somebody grabs you and pulls you to the ground then you need to know your body positions and then it’s pretty easy to bite their ear off, take a big chunk out of their face with your teeth, or jam your fingers into their eyes.
It’s not hard to augment jiu-jitsu with that stuff. Jiu-jitsu doesn’t hamper your ability to be savage in your attacks.
When it comes to pressure points and standing wristlocks – if you’re going against someone completely untrained you can have some sort of success with some of this stuff, but not at all against a determined attacker. So learn jiu-jitsu.
Also jiu-jitsu is fun, creative, a good workout, boosts your confidence, and it gets you used to combative situations where you’re going 100%…
It inoculates you to the terror of having someone grinding on you and trying to smash you.
Follow Jocko Willink on Twitter @jockowillink and subscribe to the Jocko Podcast on iTunes.