Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu For Self-Defense

Or “In-Situ Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu”

Or “In Which A Purple Belt Chooses To Not Injure Someone Who Really Had It Coming.”1

Or “The U Street BJJ Clinic.”

Or ” DC Nights On U Street: Geek Makes Goon Tap Out…..TWICE!!!”

I was in the middle of a deep bout of procrastination yesterday, perusing Facebook, and came upon a bit of a gem. Allow me to share it with you, my audience.

The story is predominantly centered around two characters, Geek and Goon.2 Before the taping had started, as revealed in a post-fight interview, Goon was roughing up a woman in some capacity. The woman was asking to be left alone. Geek, presumably, had been just walking by and asked Goon to leave the woman alone. It was about this point that Goon must have decided, “You know what? I’m bigger than this guy. And he looks pretty wimpy. I’m just going to sucker punch him a few times and he’ll stop.”

Lights. Camera. Action.

Geek has Goon full-mounted. He’s talking to the crowd that inevitably gathers around when two people begin fighting. The thronging masses. He’s trying to sort out the situation.

0:49. Goon, obviously not recognizing the near-immediate danger he is in, has decided to AGAIN sucker punch the person who has him in full mount. There are several glaring problems with this tactic. One, you can’t throw powerful punches worth a damn from the flat of your back. Sure, you can ball your fingers up into a fist, and fling and direct said fist in the direction of someone’s chin – let’s call that the technical definition of a punch – but they aren’t really going to do any appreciable damage. The second problem with beginning to throw punches in a wrestling match while you’re full-mounted is that the person on top of you can throw punches much harder than you can, because the bio-mechanical skill sets used by skilled punchers (skills like snapping a punch, kinetic linking, throwing from different angles, to name a few) are, by and large, still available to the person on the top.3 The third problem, as our Goon is about to discover, is that because both (a) your arms are essentially two stick-like things attached to your body and (b) the mounted person can not control the striking distance, it is impossible to perfectly cover your face from every punch being thrown from mount.

0:54. Even after a “Relax” from Geek, the Goon still tries to throw punches…utterly oblivious to how close he is to the brink.

Guy On The Bottom:  “The guy on top of me has foolishly moved to full mount.  I guess it’s about that time I knock him the f’out.”  <– Famous Last Words

0:58. After four seconds of throw punches, the Goon is just covering his face. Like I said, trading shots while being mounted is a recipe conducive for a visit to a plastic surgeon for the person on the bottom. Goon gets punched for another 12 seconds or so. The punches aren’t bombs by any means. But they’re enough, especially since it is difficult to effectively defend against them.

1:10. Back to a bjj match.

1:17-1:30. The sucker punch from the Goon has left the Geek with a presumed bloody, leaking nose. As someone with a large nose, I have a…large…amount of empathy. Our hero has lost his cool some, and is yelling at the mounted.

1:34-2:08. Cool regained. “Can someone take him please?” “I’ll, I’ll let him up if someone takes him.” Goon is still trying to wrestle a little; but without a mount-escape, it’s really not going anywhere. He has tried (a) pushing on Geek’s chest, (b) pushing on Geek’s hips, (c) trying to sit up, and (d) bucking, but not as much as the rest.

“I’m prepared to let you go, if you re-fucking-lax.” – Geek. His voice breaks, sounds frayed, like when teenagers yell at the top of their lungs.

2:10. The Goon continues to deny roughing up the woman earlier. By this time he must have realized “I can’t really escape from this position. If I’m going to get out of here (and take revenge?), I need to play along with what this kid wants. Okay, I’ll stop struggling and start using my best ‘No sir, I am innocent’ voice.”

2:55. As a friendly reminder, Geek gives him heavy-handed, but not damaging, slap. The crowd reacts. Goon begins to give his back. Drowned out in the “Ohhh!” is Our Hero saying “I can punch him whenever I want.” Yes, yes you can, purple belt.

3:05. The Geek locks in a rear-naked choke but does not yet begin to apply it, as the Goon does not lose consciousness in the time normally allotted.

3:26. The Goon taps, and The Geek stands up. This was his first major lapse in judgment. If I was watching, I would have immediately reminded him that he was not in a jiu-jitsu competition. The Goon should have been strangled unconscious. Then the Geek should have just walked away.

Sam Harris makes this point eloquently in his essay on violence. The Geek should have realized that he was dealing with a sociopath.4 If you’ve gained the upper-hand in a fight with a man, whom you witnessed rough-up a woman (the details of what he exactly did are sketchy – push her down, and pull her up violently?) AND who succeeded in hitting you with a volley of sucker punches on two separate occasions, then you have no business trusting him to not attack you when he finds another acceptable opportunity.

“No, no, you can perfectly trust me.”

3:48. The Goon begins aggressive posturing.

4:02. While the Geek was looking at the camera guy, the Goon hits him with a leaping hook. I don’t know anything about punching, but the punch thrown by the Goon looks awful.

4:04-4:09. The Goon tries to throw a right hook but decides against it, as the Geek has closed the distance and clinched. He forces the aggressor back, who then trips on the low concrete wall directly behind him. The Goon falls into the high grass behind him. The Geek transitions to mount. He has, understandably, lost his cool again.

4:28-4:40. After a bit of grip fighting, the Geek hits him in a few stiff elbows. There is a lot of chatter in the background, but I think the Goon says he has given up. Unlike the punches from mount before, I bet those one or two elbows hurt for real.

4:50. The Goon sees an opportunity to escape! He sits up quickly…but not quickly enough! The Geek takes his back, immediately locking up a rear-naked choke in the process. This time he almost immediately begins to strangle him. The Goon, that pained strangled look smeared across his face, taps after 8 seconds or so. When he comes into the light, the area around his eyes look puffy. Maybe Our Geek did get a few good shots in after all.

The damn Goon is still ambling around the Geek. He looks beaten, no doubt. But to my eye, he also looks like he is reconsidering whether or not he has ‘really given up.’ If the giant, random guy with dreadlocks hadn’t come by and punched the Goon in the face at 6:05 (with contact you can hear, my audience), I would not have been surprised at all if the Goon had punched the Geek again.


We’re all very proud of the Geek, all things considered.  It could have been a really costly mistake, him letting Goon up.  Just the prospect of The Goon picking up a rock and beginning to swing it, for example, is justification enough (in my eyes, at least) to have strangled him unconscious.  But nothing substantive panned out in that brief lapse of judgment, luckily enough. Our BJJ Hero did prevail in the end.

And it goes to show, again, grappling with someone who doesn’t know the first thing about ground fighting is like dragging someone out into deep water and, without them having the slightest inkling how, commanding them to swim.

Thanks for reading.


1. I should mention here that not all purple belts are created equal. Nor are all styles of or approaches to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu equally effective in self-defense scenarios.

2. I admit here and now to seeing something of myself in this “Geek.” And while I am nearly certain I would not have been that merciful, I’m glad to see just how judicious he was.

3. Consider, furthermore, some empirical data. How many MMA matches are finished with punches from the top of full mount? I would be willing to bet Christmas dinner, it’s an appreciable portion of all “ground and pound” stoppages.

We can also ask ~P. How many MMA matches are finished with punches from the bottom of full mount? Is there even one in the history of MMA? If there is one, it must have come about for outlandish reasons.

4. Or at least someone acting with sociopathic tendencies.


2 thoughts on “Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu For Self-Defense

  1. Great video and post. Thanks for sharing. While I agree we’re all proud of the Geek, it was treacherously dangerous for him to keep his back (and, subsequently, his attention) directed away from what seemed to be a litany of people behind and around him. I worked in a prison as a correctional officer for almost 4 years and never saw a single occasion in which a man climbed on top of another man to deliver a “ground & pound” whilst each sides “friends” just stood around and watched him. Even if the guys standing around the Goon in this video weren’t his friends or part of his crew, it’s still dangerous because history suggests dangerous violence is more likely to arise from interracial tension and conflict. It seemed to be a surprisingly relaxed environment for a street fight, but at least that’s all it really was. It’s not uncommon for a punk to get punked like that though. They’re generally the first to go down fast and hard when the shit really hits the fan 😀

    We can be grateful the Geek made it out unscathed.

    Thanks again for sharing. It was really fun to watch!

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