Practical Jiu Jitsu for MMA

The London Fight Factory website joins us today for this piece.

“Yeah that move is sick but it will never work in a real fight or MMA.”

This line has undoubtedly been uttered hundreds, maybe even thousands, of times and occurs when people see a really nice, slick or fancy jiu jitsu move, transition or submission in a jiu jitsu instruction or tournament.

And, in some cases they are correct. There are certain movements or submissions in jiu jitsu that would not be recommended or practical in MMA due to a host of factors. These can include anything from the amount of grip available (jiu jitsu practitioners often have a gi to hold or a rashguard to provide friction), to the amount of exposure it would leave them to strikes.

When you mention jiu jitsu within the MMA context, people’s minds will often race towards arm bars, triangle chokes, guillotines and RNCs (rear naked chokes). But when confronted with anything else the conversation will almost always drift back to its practicality to MMA. The truth is that if jiu jitsu were relegated to a handful of submissions and transitions then its application and potential in MMA would never be realized. While most MMA fighters may never utilize the entire breadth of techniques of jiu jitsu throughout their fighting career, it is essential that they learn as much as they can and keep an open mind to the possibilities they present.

Indeed, there have been many advocates of “the gentle art” in the world of MMA.

One of which is Ryan Hall who made his UFC debut a couple of years ago. Gaining notoriety as he fought and submitted his way through The Ultimate Fighter reality competition, Hall proved and proclaimed that even 50-50 guard has its place in MMA. Then there are the outstanding highlight reel submissions like Ovince St. Preux’s use of the Von Flue choke, Charles Oliveira’s calf slicer and who can forget when The Korean Zombie, Chan Sung Jung, slapped the Twister on spine crank on Leonard Garcia.

Speaking of the Twister submission, much is to be said about the man that made it famous, Jean Jacques Machado black belt and found of the 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu System, Eddie Bravo. Bravo worked both in front and behind the camera for the UFC during its early days as a camera editor and analyst. After defeating Royler Gracie in ADCC (perhaps the most prestigious grappling event in its day), Eddie began to cobble together ideas and techniques from jiu jitsu, wrestling and other grappling arts and fuse them into a no gi system that can be highly effective in MMA. This system later became known as 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu and has been practiced by fighters like Tony Ferguson, Ben Saunders, Shinya Aoki, Alan Jouban, Kelvin Gastelum and more.

When asked by new students or those unfamiliar with martial arts about what is the one technique that they should learn or use in a dangerous or competitive situation, true and experienced practitioners would giggle a bit and would casually say “the one that works.” In the world of MMA where almost any situation, position or circumstance can take place, it is good to know as much jiu jitsu as possible, because you never know which technique will be the one that works.