This is part of a series of articles inspired by an interview with Matt Thornton.  It is a collection common fallacious arguments and strategic errors regarding martial arts efficacy.  From here on, when I write an assertion like, "X works," I mean:

  • Substitute for "X" any specific martial art, system, or technique.
  • "X" is generally applicable in a real fight.

Sins of Omission

One common complaint about Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is that it should include (more) striking.  Practitioners usually omit striking, or perhaps even fail to think of striking during practice.  In particular, because most BJJ sparring is symmetrical, both participants ignore the possibilities of both striking and being struck.  Why would an art omit an effective technique or even a whole aspect of fighting (e.g., projectile weapons, contact weapons, striking, clinch, ground)?

What are the underlying assumptions BJJ makes which either require or allow it to largely exclude striking?

  1. Striking alone won't prevent a clinch or take-down.
  2. Striking in practice is more injury-prone and less sustainable.

Without teasing out those assumptions, a debate over including striking in BJJ might never resolve.  With those assumptions in hand, we can generalize some good and bad reasons to moderate some types of self-defense practice:


  • expensive equipment may be necessary to train safely (e.g., a RedMan suit), or
  • training may result in more frequent and/or significant injuries, or
  • an aspect of training is not necessary


  • tradition
  • uninformed expectations about real-world violence
  • unrealistic expectations of efficacy