Having trained and taught for some time, I have had the pleasure and displeasure of having to share and defend jiu-jitsu with all sorts of different people. I can't tell you how many times I've heard that sport jiu-jitsu is a waste of time because we would never use x-guard or inverted guard or any other unusual position that you can think of in a street fight.
These naysayers are right about one thing: no, we probably wouldn't use x-guard in a street fight, and I probably wouldn't use butterfly guard either, but they are wrong about the why.
I wouldn't use x-guard in a street fight because I wouldn't have to. In a street fight, where it's my six years of grappling experience against some dude with Jack Daniels courage, simple positions like mount, back control, or closed guard will do the trick just fine. In this scenario, a simple problem warrants a simple solution. Anything more than that is a waste of effort on my part.
Jiu-jitsu, at its core, is about forcing your opponent to make a mistake. At the highest levels, this becomes a chess game of positioning, where I stack up enough minor advantages to force my opponent into a corner, where his only remaining choices are the "wrong" choices. Unlike an experienced grappler, an untrained attacker will almost immediately make a crucial mistake, and this is well-known to jiu-jiteiros. We have the opportunity to roll with brand new white belts or our silly friends at parties, and we know how quickly someone that does not know jiu-jitsu gives up their neck. It's a choke buffet.
|Royce solving a simple problem with a "simple" position.|
So if all we need in self-defense situations are simple attacks, why do we train more complicated positions? Why do we train to beat other grapplers if we don't expect to encounter them in the wild?
First of all, it's fun, but if that's not a good enough answer for you (why do you hate fun?), consider this: why do we lift weights? How often do you encounter something in real life that you can't pick up with the strength that you have now? Not often, but if you want to be stronger, you will need those weights to give you the targeted resistance required to improve. To keep getting stronger, you have to keep challenging your muscles to perform better than they did before.
This analogy applies to jiu-jitsu. Training with talented grapplers forces you to perfect you balance, your timing, your awareness, your problem solving skills, and your confidence. All of those attributes are immensely important in self-defense. To return to the weight training analogy, how hard is it to move 5 pounds when you are benching 200? Not hard it all. Forcing ourselves to solve these difficult problems every day in training makes the less complex problems incredibly easy. It's like going from calculus back to arithmetic. You can handle the simple operations without thinking and be on your way.
Glad that's settled. Let's train.
Note: Just as you refresh basic attacks like armbars and triangles, so should you periodically revisit basic self-defense tactics to stay well-rounded and prepared.