Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, or BJJ as it’s colloquially known, is a highly dangerous and effective martial art system focusing primarily on ground fighting, grappling, and submission through chokeholds, locks, and throws.
BJJ consistently ranks in the world’s top 5 most dangerous martial arts. Along with Krav Maga and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, the training relies heavily on live drills, sparring, and groundwork, so this system is best learned under the supervision of qualified instructors.
In this article, we will look at why learning BJJ on your own is not advisable, but we will also look at whether there are any aspects of this style you could learn on your own, as well as the risks involved in doing so.
BJJ And The MMA Connection
Because BJJ is such an effective grappling and ground fighting style, many MMA practitioners actively incorporate BJJ elements into their fighting techniques.
If you have watched MMA, you will have seen BJJ techniques in action.
Choke and other submission holds have their roots in BJJ and are exceptionally effective when applied correctly.
You can see the effects of choke-outs and leverage submission holds when used, which is why you should not learn BJJ on your own.
MMA fighters could do conditioning and fitness independently but usually, work with trainers and coaches.
Still, when it comes to realistic training for their fights, they train with multiple partners and coaches to ensure that their technique is effective and their safety and the safety of their training partners.
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Learning A Lethal Fighting System On Your Own Is Irresponsible
The top MMA fighters worldwide understand that any combat system that can seriously maim, injure or kill another human being should be learned under strict instruction. In that case, that is a very good reason you should not attempt to learn this on your own.
The creators of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu took great care when they adapted the styles of judo and jiu-jitsu to create BJJ, and they understood then that the techniques developed were very dangerous.
Students would learn them over time and under very strict and controlled conditions.
This is because BJJ requires live drills with partners, and serious injuries would have been the order of the day without proper supervision.
While all martial arts, whether striking or grappling, are dangerous, punches, kicks, and other strikes can be practiced without partners and alone as basics with systems like Karate or Kung Fu.
Learning BJJ on your own, even if you have a partner, is highly irresponsible.
You can easily cause harm by applying too much force or using the technique incorrectly, which means it won’t be effective in a real ring or combat situation.
Learning BJJ On Your Own Requires SAFE Live Partner Drills
For BJJ training to truly be effective and gain the working knowledge of applying leverage or chokeholds, you need a live partner.
You also need qualified people to deal with potential injuries like broken or dislocated joints or reviving choked-out students when too much force is applied.
Therein lies the critical aspect. Under supervision, there is always accountability and responsibility as the instructors know exactly how much force to apply and when to release it.
Still, even using an online class for BJJ and assuming you have a partner, you may well cause significant harm, especially as a beginner, as you lack the control and skill to apply techniques safely.
BJJ Training usually happens when safety mats and other protective gear are in a properly equipped facility.
The other students understand what will happen whether they are applying the technique or having it applied to them, so they know how to react – or not- to reduce any risk of harm.
If you are learning BJJ on your own, then you don’t have a partner, and this will seriously hamper any progress as you cannot apply techniques in real-time and with reasonable force.
While you could work with online training to get a basic understanding of the technique and its application, testing its efficacy in a live environment would be impossible.
Learning BJJ On Your Own Can Instill A False Sense Of Ability
Another critical concern with learning this system is that while you may think your technique is good when you test it on your younger brother or friends, the reality of actual competition or a street fight or self-defense situation is vastly different.
One of the reasons that BJJ and similar combat styles should only be learned with instructors is because they impart their knowledge and experience and create a combat mindset in their students.
As with any martial art, a warrior mindset is just as critical as technical competence, and without that real-life mental training, you are missing a crucial element.
If you think that doing BJJ at home for six months will give you the same skill and ability as someone who has trained in a dojo for the same period, think again.
The difference between training alone vs. training in an accredited facility under qualified instruction is vast!
Frankly speaking, if you had to walk into a studio after training BJJ on your own for six months and engage in a sparring session with a student of the same level, you would almost certainly get your ass handed to you on a plate!
This has nothing to do with your dedication or commitment but everything to do with being in a live training environment where you can properly and safely execute your techniques correctly and with maximum effectiveness.
You Risk Performing Poor Technique When Training On Your Own
One of the risks of training alone is picking up poor technique, whereas, in a live class, your instructor would correct technical elements and ensure you were performing the technique correctly.
This means that if you try and execute that a poorly-learned technique either in training or in self-defense, it will lack effectiveness and that completely defeats the purpose of learning a system like BJJ in the first place.
Unlike martial arts like Kung-Fu or Karate, where online instruction can identify and ‘repair’ incorrect elements to a better degree, the close-up and personal nature of BJJ makes it difficult for virtual education to correct technical errors.
While this could be done to some extent, it could never be done as effectively as it could be in a live and real-time class, and to this end, you need to seriously consider why you want to learn this system and what would be both the safest and most effective way to learn it.
If you are learning this for self-defense or competition, you need to be confident that you can be effective in any of those situations, and learning BJJ on your own, will not instill that confidence since you get no real feedback.
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You Could Not Become Truly Proficient Learning BJJ On Your Own
This is not limited to BJJ alone, but any martial art studied independently away from direct supervision and in virtual space limits the achievable proficiency level by default.
Any online training course that claims you can reach black belt level training alone should be viewed with great caution.
Any responsible martial arts school will be cognisant of this fact. While they could offer beginner sessions and physical conditioning like stretching and strength training programs, they should communicate that virtual training can only take you so far and no further.
Brazilia Jiu Jitsu- What You Can Learn On Your Own
It may seem like if you want to do this style of fighting, you need to enroll in a school, and there is nothing you could learn on your own, but this is not true.
While you should never study any system designed to inflict harm and damage on another human being without proper supervision, there are always some aspects you can do alone.
The first and most obvious one is physical conditioning. Here, many videos and channels offer examples of home training exercise programs that help you build upper body strnght, core strength, fitness, and flexibility necessary for BJJ.
Exercises like planking for your core and variations of situps will assist with your core and lower body, while lunges, squats, and leg raisers will build your legs and lower core.
For upper body, pushups, pull-ups, and HIIT exercises like burpees and the mountain climber are excellent for overall conditioning.
Using Grappling Dummies For Practising Techniques On Your Own
COVID forced many martial arts schools to become creative and offer their students creative ways to keep up their training while in lockdown. Some methods used common objects like chairs and other fixed things or training dummies to practice grappling holds.
This is a good option when learning on your own, and many training products like gloves, pads, and dummies are available to buy online. This is, of course, better than doing it without the gear and will indicate how the technique would work on a real-life opponent.
Grappling dummies allow you to focus on specific details in the application of a technique, and there are some excellent videos available that demonstrate various dummy drills you can do at home.
Because BJJ is not essentially a striking style, having a bag workout would be more for fitness than actual application, but incorporating a bag routine in your training schedule has some cardiovascular benefits.
Online courses will teach basic techniques and explain fundamental concepts around leverage, grappling, and groundwork.
They will also provide exercises for learning and improving those techniques so that you can incorporate them into your training schedule.
Create A Training Space And Training Schedule
Once you have decided to learn BJJ on your own, you need to allocate training time in a dedicated room or garage for your training.
Equip the space as best you can with mats and other gear and even a bag or training dummies.
Structure your training and combine strength and fitness with learning and practicing techniques or basic stances and drills that you can find in good online training courses.
Many good BJJ schools or instructors offer pre-structured training sessions specifically tailored online or solo training, and that’s a great way to start.
The key to success with any solo training is consistency and doing your training to the best of your ability.
Do your BJJ workout at the same time every week to improve and gain some knowledge, and if you decide to join a class, later on, you at least have the existing structure to do so.
However, your biggest challenge when learning BJJ on your own is commitment and accountability.
Commitment – Your Biggest Challenge When Learning BJJ On Your Own
While you can find numerous routines and programs online that incorporate fitness, strength, and basic techniques for BJJ, the biggest challenge with learning BJJ on your own is the element of commitment.
When you have enrolled in a school, and there are expectations in terms of attendance as well as accountability and consequences for failing to attend, training on your offers no such structure.
This is where many people come short when learning a martial arts system alone.
Class times and class procedures become entrenched in your routine, and you know that you need to be at your class, dressed and ready to train on certain days and at certain times.
If you are committed, you will most likely attend unless you are sick or injured.
But, if you are training alone, have had a hard day, fought with your significant other, or have a battle with the kids all day and you’re exhausted, you can always opt-out of your training that day with no real consequence- other than not training.
Deciding to take on training in a combat system like BJJ requires commitment, and training alone requires more than if you were enrolled in a school.
When the initial excitement wears off, your commitment will be tested on the days when you don’t want to train- but this is also dependent on your reason for wanting to study BJJ.
Learning BJJ Alone Doesn’t Show You Where You Are Going
When you train in a school and start as a beginner, you get to see first-hand where your training will take you if you stick with it.
Watching old students train and fight is a motivator to keep going as you can see where you will be in time to come.
You don’t have this visual progression when you opt to learn BJJ on your own.
For example, if you start as a white belt beginner, you can see what students on the next level are doing and get excited about where you are headed.
You Train With Students At The Same Level As Yourself
Another benefit to training in a school is that you get to meet and train with people that have the same skill level in BJJ as yourself.
That offers some camaraderie and opportunity to build relationships with people with the same passions and interests as you do.
Alone, you don’t have that, and often, those same people can motivate and support you on those days when you don’t feel like training, but you do anyway!
That support system is not available to you if you train BJJ alone.
Furthermore, those same people would often be prepared to do some extra training, or you can work with senior students or instructors to improve your struggling techniques.
On your own, you are relying on online interaction to achieve this, and the quality will not be the same as personal instruction.
Should You Learn BJJ On Your Own?
When circumstances such as distances to schools or work projects taking you away from your regular classes, or you don’t have BJJ academies in your area prevent you from accessing live training, then you can look at learning BJJ on your own.
However, this should never be considered a permanent solution. It certainly is not optimum for becoming proficient in any martial art, at least a highly aggressive and dangerous one like Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
This is not to say that in the interim or to get a sense of whether the style appeals to you that training on your own is not a good idea, but with the basic lethality of BJJ, this isn’t a system you should be learning on your own.
The ability to execute effective techniques and build confidence in this style relies heavily on one-on-one training and close instruction and supervision, which should not be underestimated for any reason.
Moreover, it cannot be emphasized enough that BJJ is one of the world’s most dangerous fighting systems and achieving proficiency in applying techniques, whether for competition or self-defense, can only be achieved with quailed instruction.
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BJJ, as with all martial arts, was never designed to be learned alone, but they have evolved to a point with the technology has opened the door for people to study this combat art independently and on their own.
While there are certain aspects of BJJ that you can learn on your own, such as some basic techniques and fitness and strength training, the more advanced elements of this system should only be done in a properly supervised and safe environment.