One of the tropes the RBSD/Combatives crowd loves to drag out is the idea that grappling is really nice in the gym, but in the “real world”, will only get you killed. An oft-repeated comment is that it is okay to do jiu-jitsu moves on soft, comfortable mats, but Da Streetz don’t have mats.
I guess the implication is that those of us who do jiu-jitsu are giant wimps and need to have the equivalent of a Tempur-pedic mattress to train on!
Not only is this wrong, and incredibly short-sighted, it also shows an immense (almost willful) ignorance of history. Which is even more damning of their intellect since that history is easily discovered with the ease of the internet and search engines.
I can safely say that there are literally a metric ton of videos showing real world applications (on typical hard surfaces) of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. In addition, the US Army recently released a huge report on H2H usage by troops since the era of Modern Army Combatives (a report I plan on covering soon in a blog post).
More so, this kind of thing goes back to literally the dawn of the age of BJJ and is part of it’s very beginnings, where it was only advertised as a fighting and self-defense method. In fact, on the video tape that served to widely introduce the Gracie family to the world outside of Brazil (released in 1989 in the US), there was a lot of footage showing exactly that. One of the clips I particularity loved was that from a series of challenge matches held between representatives of Gracie Jiu-jitsu, and a large karate school in Rio.
To understand what set it up was that this took place in the early 1970’s during the karate/kung fu movie explosion led by Bruce Lee and Enter the Dragon. The head of the karate school was doing pretty well, and went on a localk TV show in Rio and talked about how perfect Karate was, and that jiu-jitsu was okay but could not stand up to Karate. Of course the Gracies disagreed and agreed to settle the dispute in the challenge matches.
The rules were no biting or eye gouging. Other than that, anything went. No gloves, and no other limitations.
Here is what I found so interesting. The event was help on an uncovered CONCRETE floor! And guess who insisted that it take place there? The Gracies. That’s right. The Karate people wanted it to be on mats or in a boxing ring. It was the grapplers, who planned to take the fight to the ground, who wanted it on a “real world” surface.
And so what was the result? See for yourself:
Wait! How was that possible? The grapplers completely dominated and were not bothered at all by the hard surface. How could that be?
Because it is no big deal! Only someone who does not train for the groundfight and does not understand it would think it matters. Sure, we train on mats. When you are actually practicing for hours upon hours a week, it would be hard on the body to roll on concrete all the time. So in training, we prefer someone a little more forgiving. Just for longevity sakes, if nothing else. But when it comes to the real world, there is nothing at all that is the matter with fighting on a hard surface. Especially if you are a knowledgeable grappler, and can control the direction of the fight, a hard surface can actually be your ally (as in the above video). Notice in the video how every single one of the karate practitioners hit the floor extremely hard? Anyone want to think that that did not help the jiu-jitsu practitioners? Being able to take the fight to floor when they decided was a pretty good tactical decision, wasn’t it?
So the next time you hear the self-defense guru trot out the “no mats in the streets” cliche, you will understand how absolutely meaningless it is.