How does Brazilian Jiu Jitsu relate to Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) or the UFC?

Mixed Martial Arts is a legally sanctioned sporting event in which participants of roughly equal skill level, strength, size, and experience try to beat each other up in a controlled environment in order to determine which one is the better fighter. Participants must prepare themselves for all areas the fight may take place; (striking, standing grappling with strikes, and ground grappling with strikes). When taken seriously, (as few amateurs do and all pros must), it is a ridiculously challenging task that has no equal. It is one of the most demanding full time jobs out there with incredibly high stakes on all levels. Nothing has done more to weed out effective techniques and methods of a one on one unarmed conflict than MMA.


Brazilian Jiu Jitsu on the other hand is a self defense oriented martial art.  Modern MMA owes much of its heritage to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and the Gracie family. The Gracies utilized the venue of Vale Tudo (old school MMA) to demonstrate the effectiveness of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in an era when students generally trained one martial art. The Gracies were so confident in their art that they created the UFC as a means to showcase their abilities. In that time Brazilian Jiu Jitsu was consistently proven to be the most effective single martial art. Since then the athletes that fight in MMA events all train some sort of ground fighting art, the vast majority being Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.


There seems to be a little confusion on the parts of some Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioners where they confuse the two. Sadly, many practitioners choose to look at Brazilian Jiu Jitsu as something lacking when compared with MMA. MMA wouldn’t be what it is without Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu would be just fine without MMA. MMA is a sport, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a lifestyle. In the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu lifestyle you aim to live a healthy balanced life and avoid getting into fights, while MMA practitioners train for the certainty of a fight against someone else who is training equally as hard with the intent of beating them so that their career might advance and their opponent’s career goes the opposite direction.

Mastering one martial art is a daunting task, however it can be done, even with a busy work and home life as long as you are diligent and consistent in your training. Learning many martials arts, (remember it is mixed martial arts), required to be successful at MMA is a task that can only be accomplished if it is your full time job. While some people are content as lifelong dabblers, I find that many wish to master one martial art that can mesh well with their life and enrich it. You can’t learn striking without sparring, (read: getting punched in the face), and you’re not going to learn wrestling without being taken down (read: falling repeatedly with someone landing on top of you). Jiu Jitsu is a martial art that you can learn and go to work the next day without looking like you’re in fight club. MMA isn’t something you are going to gain any appreciable skill with a hobbyist dedication. Jiu Jitsu though is something you can develop a very high level of skill at with consistent diligent practice even with a busy life.



I really want to get in the cage and fight, how soon can you get me in?

This is the wrong school for you. If you want high level instruction in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu then I can help. If you are aching for the chance to beat someone up keep shopping, this isn’t the place for you.



Can I get hurt training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?

Of course, just like you can get hurt riding a bicycle, walking, or swimming. The point of life isn’t to avoid all things that can harm you. The point is to understand the nature of how things work, then to make them work in a positive manner for you. The human body is no different. We seek to understand how the body works. Like any acquired knowledge this a process where you digest small reasonable bites and don’t jump into the deep water before you are ready. Our curriculum and tiered class structure allow for safe study. Besides the only place you are really going to be safe from any harm is sitting at home on the couch watching TV…….. where you can develop arteriosclerosis and wind up just as injured, just having lived a very mundane uneventful life en route.


Ultimately you are responsible for your safety. Just as driving a car is dangerous, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu can be dangerous as well, which is why you should seek out qualified instruction, pay attention, and practice diligently. Make sure that you are training with a group that shares the same goals as you and are not just trying to rip your head off. Put otherwise, while injuries come up, they come up in any sport, and BJJ if practiced correctly is one of the least dangerous sports/arts available.

I am concerned about self defense. What can Brazilian Jiu Jitsu offer to help mitigate this concern?

Self defense  has three essential components a) spotting danger, b) avoiding danger, and C) responding to danger if placed in position that you must. Most people don’t want to hurt others. It is fairly easy to identify the ones that do, or are looking for trouble. If you aren’t one of these people, and can avoid those that are, (they are usually easy to spot), you are probably not going to find yourself in many altercations. That said, the most well intentioned of people can find themselves in a position where they need to defend themselves. In almost any self-defense situation, the person with the ability to keep a  cool head and execute is the one that is going to come out ahead.


It has been repeatedly demonstrated through numerous challenge matches, and the origins of the UFC itself, that in the comparison of singular unarmed martial arts Brazilian Jiu Jitsu always comes out on top. A quality Brazilian Jiu Jitsu program will teach you the techniques and mind set needed to overcome a one on one assault. Developing skill in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu builds your mental toughness and ability to correctly determine the action needed to overcome an adverse situation while under duress.


Strong mental fortitude is irreplaceable in self-defense encounters. You can train anything you like for self-defense, however if it doesn’t A) involve live sparring against resisting opponents, B) developing your mental fortitude, C) focus on positive outcome (as opposed to how scary the potential threat may be), and D) stress ethical correctness, it is most likely not very effective and quite likely counter productive. I find that many of the Martial Arts schools that emphasis self-defense are actually giant sales machines that prey on consumers fear of violence. The low road is to miseducate those that have a reasonable concern about personal safety by amplifying those fears as opposed to assuaging them. The truth is that over the span of your life you could be involved in some sort of violent encounter, however the likelihood that it is unforeseeable and unavoidable is pretty small. Paranoia will not make you better prepared for that encounter, it will make you less prepared. Additionally it will make the quality of your life, and your impact on others, less enjoyable.


When I personally assess my life for threats to it, I find that  arteriosclerosis, car crashes, and tripping are much greater risks than being randomly beat up by someone I don’t know. Preparing myself against these much more likely events makes for a healthier mind. Unless you are in a high crime area, simply paying attention and following basic precautionary measures makes the threat of physical assault very unlikely.

How much time does all of this take?

As much time as you want it to. Respectable progress can be made  by training two or three hours a week. My feeling is that time is spent in one of two ways; either proactively cultivating/pursuing what you deem of worth, or by responding to demands on your time caused either by a) unforeseen outside forces (rare), or b) lack of planning (common). I love the phrase; either make time for health now or illness later. There are exceptions to all rules, but I think that one is particularly helpful. Life marches on whether or not you invest the time and energy into the things you cherish. As the saying goes, there are not a lot of people on deaths door who wish they had spent more time completing tasks that are ultimately not that important. Investing in your physical and mental well-being has a compounding effect. The greater your mental and physical health the greater not only your capacity to enjoy life, but to contribute to society as a whole. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu may or may not be for you. If it is, great. If it isn’t I encourage you to find a couple of sportive hobbies that you enjoy. Either way, feel free to check out a class and see if Jiu Jitsu is something you might be interested in.


Ready to try a class

Schedule it here

Have a question we didn't answer?

Ask it here