Self Defense/Japanese jiu jitsu


QUESTION: Hello mr Mac young,

I was wondering if you could tell me a little bit about the effectiveness of Japanese jiu jitsu, not Brazilian jiu jitsu. I know it was used by the samurai during feudal Japan and was a method of combat when a samurai had lost his weapon and only had his hands or a small knife to use. Given, that is was used during that time period for a particular set of circumstances, does its concepts and or techniques still work in today's self defense? In addition, if one were to take Japanese jiu jitsu, what are they most likely to gain from the martial art? And finally, what self defense role can Japanese jiu jitsu fulfill? Is it better for sitting on uncle Albert? Is it better for handling multiple attackers? Is it better for one on one? Etc. thanks for your time.

ANSWER: First off take the idea of martial arts and flush them down the toilet.

Every wonder how the Roman God of War got his name attached to Asian (especially Japanese) systems? The answer was the earliest use of the term 'martial arts' we've been able to find was in a 1927 tourism guide. Where -- at a festival -- there would be "a demonstration of archery, swordsmanship and other ancient martial arts."

Then take most of the stories you have heard about history and uses of martial arts and flush them down the crapper too. That's marketing to create the illusion of credibility.

Finally, throw Bruce Lee into the bowl and push the handle He's the guy who popularized the term in the West and heaped on all kinds of mystical and philosophical bullshit. I say that because what he was peddling was about as authentic as Taco Bell is Mexican food.

Until Mr. Lee started the whole spiritual enlightened Asian act to Westerners by mushing up various things, you mostly had what were considered martial sports.

Yes, that was the term up until the '60s. They were part of a larger training regime for people in the military, entertainment and a hobby. In a VERY small focus in Japan you had the whole "Do" aspect, but mostly martial sports systems were known by their specific name. Shoto-kan, Kempo, Go-ju, Jujitsu etc.

Sort of changing tracks. There a show called "Making a Marine" where a bunch of recruits were followed through boot camp. Among the many other aspects of training there was hand-to-hand. It was, in fact, BJJ. A drill instructor made a very valid point when he said "We don't expect them to fight at this range, but we want to instill the willingness to fight at any range."

Which is an AMAZINGLY profound idea if you think about it. But more teaching them a sports system is a great way to safely keep your young bucks from hurting each other when they're rough housing or squabbling.

So here is the fundamental question. IS martial sports an important aspect of military training?

The answer is 'yes.' Is it by itself a complete, stand alone system? The answer is not only no, but hell no. (Same idea here: )

But look at the concept of 'stand alone.' That right there completely reframes your question.

Instead of 'Does Jujitsu training eclipse and include self-defense?' the question becomes 'Can JJ training be a helpful part of self-defense?'

One question the answer is 'no.' The second the answer is 'yes.'  It can be -- for the right type of circumstances -- a VERY good tool to have in your tool box. Is it the only tool you'll need? Again, no.

Can you learn a lot of really cool and useful stuff from Japanese Jujitsu? Yes. But don't buy into the idea that it will solve everything.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you for your answer. So just a follow up question if you will, so what right type of circumstances is it a very good tool to have in your tool box? So I understand what you are saying about how it is not the only tool you need and one needs multiple tools to get the job done. So what is JJJ very useful for? Thanks again

Start here

Throwing arts are good for throw the guy and run like hell. (That is defensible self-defense when attacked) How hard or soft he lands is up to you.  The challenge is knowing when that is. Because while there are times to piledrive the guy's skull into the concrete, AS a self-defense action, that will usually get you a manslaughter rap.

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Marc MacYoung


Street self-defense, crime avoidance and personal safety


I grew up in the streets of Los Angeles in 'situational poverty.' I have dealt with criminals and violent people all my life -- both personally and professionally. I have written 15 books and 6 videos on surviving street violence. I was originally published under the name Marc Animal MacYoung. (Animal was my street name). I've taught police and military both internationally and within the US. I've lectured at universities, academies and done countless TV, radio, newspaper and magazine interviews. I'm a professional speaker on crime avoidance and personal safety. And I am an expert witness recognized by the US court system. My bio is at My abridged CV (Curriculum Vitae) is at

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Read "In the Name of Self-Defense" the streets don't give a Ph.D in scuffle.

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