When People Who Can’t Grapple Tell you Why It Fails

Throughout the 90’s and early 2000’s, there was a huge push by Traditional Martial Arts (TMA), Reality Based Self-Defense (RBSD)/Combatives groups, and “Tactical” Firearms trainers to dismiss grappling as a unneeded component of a complete fighting picture. They would put up the constant refrains about “not going to the ground because multiples” or “because weapons” or “because of needles and piss in the street” (a sidelight here – I always found this funny, because I never walked around in alleys or under bridges where addicts shot up, so I never found myself in a situation where I would have to fight in that environment. I have been in the worst of urban areas, and the trafficked areas where personal crime/assault occurs is rarely in these areas, and yet many “anti-grapplers” are obsessed with fighting there – Just really weird) and use these clichés as reason why you should not grapple.

The problem that they ran into is that with the prevalence of camera phones and the ubiquity of YouTube, the least experienced layman could see that grappling still happened, regardless of what the combative gurus preached, so the open minded folks sought out grappling instruction so they would not get caught in a bad place.

This left the above mentioned group with a major problem – they needed to somehow address this (so they would not lose business as well as still being seen as cutting edge experts), but none of them had any legitimate grappling expertise or experience. The solution? Call it groundfighting! And use selling terms like “we are not in a sporting grappling match, we are fighting for our lives”. That way, they could ignore the fact that they did not have any depth or breadth of knowledge, they could excuse not doing any competition, and if they ever ended up facing a real grappler (a scenario that you know keeps them awake at night in terror) in a friendly sparring match, they could pawn off the inevitable loss with “that was just for sport. In a real fight, it would be different because I could do x, y, z, “.

So they could sell themselves as experts without putting in any time to, you know, actually learning to grapple for real. Plus, as a bonus, they could sell “groundfighting” instruction to clients as superior to true grappling, and it did not take long to learn! Genius!

Here is something odd though. What other human endeavor do we put value on the knowledge of someone who does not have any true depth of experience in something? Would you go to a restaurant where the head cook has never cooked in his life, and his only training comes from a one day session? Would you hire a nanny/babysitter who has never watched a kid before? Would hire an Uber driver who just got his license the day before? Of course not. So why when it comes to our lives, or the lives of our loved ones, we accept the same level of non-knowledge from self-defense instructors? It makes no sense.

Now, these good folks could get away with it when they stuck to generalities and clichés, and could always be quick to invoke the “too deadly to spar” card. They could sell it to people new and inexperienced to self-defense, and never have to prove anything.

Except that in the current social media driven world, you need to put out video product, and that becomes available for the public to see – a public which includes people who actually know something about grappling. And then their glass house becomes vulnerable to tiny pebbles the wind whips up against it.

Such is the case with the included video. Take a look, and then we will break it down.


So, what are the problems? First, before we get to specifics, let’s look at the underlying issue that completely torpedoes this video. The fact that no BJJ/MMA fighter performs those techniques in that manner, ever. Let me spend a moment talking about why that is so damn important. If someone was teaching you to drive a manual transmission by using the clutch with your right foot, and work the gas and brake with your left, but no car on Earth had the pedals arranged in such a fashion, what good will his instruction do? He can be the coolest guy on the planet, with a super funny YouTube channel, and tons of real world face shooting creds, but none of that would matter. What he was teaching was absolutely wrong because it has no application. Well, that is exactly the case here.

So his supposedly experienced partner starts off with a triangle. He talks about it being locked in. No, it isn’t. The leg is at an angle guaranteed for it to fail. So Holloway is defending against a crap, not real BJJ. That is fail #1.

Fail #2 is the “armbar”. Again, done utterly wrong. There is no posture control, the feet are crossed (a complete beginner’s mistake), and to top it off, he executes it as if he was training with a partner, i.e. not applying pressure to break the elbow. So of course Holloway can hold out and get to his feet! Because it is not a real armbar!

Fail #3. The armbar from the mount. And again, he does it wrong. You don’t lay onto your back and then apply pressure. You use the drop to your back to ballistically apply explosive pressure and the elbow goes right away.

And it continues throughout the video. Not one technique executed the way it is actually taught and practiced in a real BJJ school. Holloway sets up a strawman that does not exist.  I could go on and on, but it will just get monotonous. The performance of the “BJJ/MMA moves” on this trash has the same bearing on reality as using the Die Hard movies as a paragon of proper weapons handling and use. It is all fantasy.

This is a classic example of someone either a) intentionally lying, or b) fantastically and willfully ignorant. In either case, all he is doing is trying to further his agenda of his system being the best, and that you do not need to train grappling. This has to be his sales pitch because he would get worked over at even a mediocre grappling gym.

Don’t be fooled by this garbage. If the instructor/”guru” cannot point to documented experience with grappling, then bet the house he has no idea what he is talking about.

2 thoughts on “When People Who Can’t Grapple Tell you Why It Fails”

  1. Cecil,

    This is good how you use the video footage to show what you are educating the public about. The video is a good case study on what is wrong and then you provide all of your thoughts and the reader can go back and watch the video again to see what you are talking about regarding Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and self defense, whether with a knife or unarmed.

    Makes sense.


Comments are closed.