Is Jiu-Jitsu Good for Self-Defense?

By Logan •  Updated: 02/12/22 •  5 min read

There are many martial arts out there, but some of them aren’t truly that practical when it comes to defending yourself in a real fight on the streets. 

However, Jiu-Jitsu is one of the few martial arts that is actually a good option for self-defense. Jiu-Jitsu is a very defense-oriented art with many skills that translate well to real-world situations.

Is Jiu Jitsu Good for Self-Defense

What Self-Defense Training is Taught in Jiu-Jitsu?

It’s not that Jiu-Jitsu has special self-defense training so much that the entire art is primarily inclined towards defense and controlling a dangerous situation. Jiu-Jitsu is mostly about grappling, and how you can use grappling to either create space between you and your attack or to control their range of movement, both of which are very important in self-defense.

Such techniques are designed to take advantage of leverage so that you can potentially defend yourself even against larger, stronger foes. Moreover, Jiu-Jitsu operates on the ability to use the weight of your foe against them, which is particularly useful when your opponent does not know how to use their own weight effectively, which is true of most people who may attack you.

The focus on grapples that aim to restain and subdue means Jiu-Jitsu teaches you valuable self-defense skills: you can restrain a violent attacker until help arrives, or knock out opponents without seriously harming them. Jiu-Jitsu also makes you more comfortable with having your personal space invaded, meaning you are less likely to panic when attacked.

And of course, having experience and training in a martial art, no matter what it is, is likely to give you more confidence and physical ability when push comes to shove. This isn’t unique to Jiu-Jitsu, but it is certainly still a benefit to mastering the martial art.

Is Jiu-Jitsu Effective in a Street Fight?

If there’s one important thing to know about martial arts and self-defense, it’s that no martial art will allow you to overcome every threat. There are situations in which jiu-jitsu would be very effective, and situations where it wouldn’t be.

Maybe your opponent has a knife. Maybe you’re being attacked by multiple people. Or maybe your opponent knows some sort of martial art as well. There are too many variables to conclusively say that jiu-jitsu will always be effective in a street fight. However, we can say that it would almost always be better to know jiu-jitsu in a street fight than to not know it.

As far as what street fight situations jiu-jitsu would be most useful in, it’s very important to acknowledge that jiu-jitsu is very much a one-on-one martial art. It’s all about grappling and subduing one opponent, as you just can’t effectively restain more than one opponent by yourself. This means jiu-jitsu is not really effective in a street fight where you are facing multiple opponents.

Of course, even in a situation such as that, the skills and experience gained via jiu-jitsu training would still increase your odds of survival compared to someone who lacked them. That said, most self-defense scenarios are against one person, which is perfect for jiu-jitsu.

Most people who would attack you would lack actual martial skills or training of their own, which is great since jiu-jitsu is designed to take advantage of physical aspects of fighting the uninitiated are unaware of. Even if your foe had a knife, jiu-jitsu is all about controlling the range of motion your opponent is capable of, so it would be effective there as well.

Knives are quite dangerous though, even in the hands of amateurs. So even if you are a jiu-jitsu master, it is also advised to escape from such a situation if possible, rather than fight.

Which Jiu-Jitsu is Best for Self-Defense?

There are two main types of Jiu-Jitsu: Japanese and Brazilian. Japanese focuses mostly on trips and throws, while Brazilian focuses more on ground-based grappling. While both styles have techniques that are useful for self-defense, Brazilian jiu-jitsu is the more desirable of the two for protecting yourself.

That’s because a focus on restraining and subduing your opponent nullifies the threat more efficiently. A dangerous opponent can recover from being thrown or tripped and threaten you again, but an opponent that you have grappled into a position where they cannot move can’t threaten you any further.

Brazilian jiu-jitsu is not necessarily about hurting people, so much as it is about rendering them incapable of movement. That may sound counter-intuitive, but when it comes to self-defense, stopping your opponent from moving is the best way to keep yourself from being harmed.

Ultimately, Brazilian jiu-jitsu is an excellent choice of martial art if you are interested in defending yourself against potential threats out on the streets. Even compared to other martial arts, it is one of the best for this purpose.

Final Thoughts

Jiu-Jitsu is a traditional martial arts that focuses on ground grappling, throws and submission holds. It is a self-defense style that has been proven effective for women in particular because it emphasizes the use of leverage and technique over brute strength. 

It has been shown to be effective in defending against an attack, mostly due to the moves being done on the ground, where attackers are more vulnerable. Grappling techniques like armbars, triangle holds, and chokeholds allow you to defend yourself without using deadly force.


Hi, I've been an avid MMA fan all my life. I've been training in martial arts for the last 5 years and wanted to share some of the tips and tricks that I've picked up along the way to help to aspiring martial artists get started.

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