One of the first questions that I had when I was starting my Jiu-Jitsu training was whether or not strikes were taught in normal jiu-jitsu classes. So I decided to do some research into BJJ schools cover striking as part of their curriculum.
BJJ does not include striking techniques as a normal part of the curriculum. MMA schools and self-defense-oriented Jiu-Jitsu schools may cover limited striking but it is primarily used as a learning tool to teach students how to use BJJ to handle striking situations and develop awareness.
Let’s take a dive into some of the specifics about Brazilian jiu-jitsu and its relationship to striking in different schools.
Does BJJ Have Kicks And Punches?
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu does not include kicks and punches in its normal form. Jiu-jitsu is a grappling martial art so you won’t see punches, kicks, or other strikes as a core part of any pure jiu-jitsu curriculum.
What Movements Are Typically Trained in BJJ?
The primary BJJ movements that every athlete trains are takedowns, guard passing and retention, and submissions.
- Takedowns and Guard-Pulling: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu uses many techniques taken from other grappling martial arts. Guard pulling is also a phenomenon unique to BJJ to get the fight to the ground faster. Wrestling style takedowns and Judo style takedowns are both commonly used and adapted for use in BJJ. If you want to learn more about what style takedowns you might want to train take a look at Should I Learn Judo or Wrestling Takedowns for BJJ?
- Passing and Retaining Guard: 80% of jiu-jitsu, if not more, happens on the ground and revolves around passing or retaining guard. This is the area that BJJ specializes in beyond other grappling martial arts.
- Submissions: BJJ is probably most known for its submissions that occur on the ground. This can take the form of joint locks, chokes, or pressure and pain-compliance-oriented submissions.
Do Any Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Schools Teach Striking?
MMA and self-defense-oriented jiu-jitsu schools will cover striking to achieve their primary goals. An MMA gym will include MMA striking awareness in jiu-jitsu classes. A self-defense gym will train its students for self-defense situations, which will include how to avoid and counter strikes.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu used to focus on providing effective self-defense. In order to build that capability strikes and other situations needed to be included. Old School Jiu-Jitsu goes over their thoughts and approach here, in which striking is included in the training.
Gracie Self-Defense programs which are rooted in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu do include some striking. Check out the video below to see some of it in action.
However, most schools like to train movements that are allowed in competitions to reduce the risk of their students getting disqualified for breaking the competition ruleset. And since sport jiu-jitsu serves as passive advertising for the school through successful students winning competitions they try to focus their efforts on furthering that goal.
Self-Defense Oriented BJJ Schools Will Cover Striking Situations
In order to effectively teach a well-rounded self-defense curriculum, BJJ classes at self-defense-oriented schools can cover some strikes in a limited way as a tool to teach their students the striking principles needed to defend themselves.
Good self-defense schools will want to teach you how to control the distance and how to block strikes and establish control under the pressure of a striking situation that is just missing at a competition-oriented jiu-jitsu school.
Understanding the basics of how to throw a punch or land a kick are both needed in order to understand how to deny your opponent the ability to hit you effectively.
Creating some minimal competence in these skills gives students some context and combined with some drilling against partners simulating strikes. This can ultimately lead to comfort with using their techniques in those striking situations, which directly translates to being more likely to perform their techniques in the stress of a real self-defense situation.
Does Training BJJ at an MMA School Teach You Striking?
I recently moved states and ended up personally transitioning from sport jiu-jitsu focused school into an MMA-oriented gym that teaches techniques with a high level of focus on awareness of striking situations. That being said, strikes are not taught during grappling-oriented classes and are mostly pointed out to further the goal of being able to effectively compete in MMA.
I noticed some changes in the flavor of the grappling curriculum and it looked quite a bit different from what I trained in the past. Certain positions and techniques are emphasized in order to facilitate dominant striking positions and avoid being put into disadvantageous positions where you would be vulnerable to striking.
That being said, MMA gyms do offer classes that specifically cover striking, most commonly Muay Thai and kickboxing types of classes, and full MMA style classes so if your goal is to learn striking within the context of jiu-jitsu you can do so at an MMA oriented gym.
Another thing to keep in mind as a side note is that if you use your jiu-jitsu skillset to get into a superior position in a fight, landing some serviceable strikes isn’t going to take a ton of specific training in your striking skills.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu does not teach striking skills and techniques directly but is an excellent skill set to have in order to avoid absorbing too many heavy strikes and to get into position to more easily land strikes.
Self-defense schools and MMA gyms will tend to include more specifics to develop an awareness of striking and will often offer separate classes that cover striking techniques. If your main goal is to learn striking you should look into the other classes offered at these types of schools or train striking-oriented martial arts elsewhere.
For more check out What Should I Expect in My First BJJ Class?