My Thoughts on Brazilian Jujitsu

My Thoughts on Brazilian Jujitsu

I have been training in the Filipino martial arts since I was about 11 years old, and I have been the Chief Instructor of Bayani Warrior ( for last several years. I have been fortunate to train with many different martial artists from many different styles. One style that keeps coming up over and over again is Brazilian Jujitsu. While Brazilian Jujitsu has been one of the most popular martial arts of the last two decades, I have noticed an incredible amount of people who are passionate about Brazilian Jujitsu, and many of my friends are avid Brazilian Jujitsu practitioners. In this article, I intend on explaining my views about Brazilian Jujitsu, and why I feel Kali and Brazilian Jujitsu practitioners have a lot to offer one another. 


My first taste of Brazilian Jujitsu started when I was about 12 years old. The school I began my formal Kali training at also offered Jeet Kune Do, and part of the curriculum was a grappling portion. My instructor was very well versed in No-Gi Jujitsu, and we would learn the various positions such as Mount, Guard, and Side-Mount (among many others), as well as basic submissions. However, it was during my training in the Philippines where I got a real-dose of Brazilian Jujitsu under a Filipino-American from San Diego, California who was a blue belt in Gracie Jujitsu. My instructor taught me the delicate and intricate nuances of each technique, how to stay calm while rolling, and how to think several steps ahead of my opponent. In short, I absolutely loved it. In my teens, whenever I wasn’t sparring or training with sticks and blades, you could always find me rolling. I wasn’t necessarily the best at it, but I could always roll and stay comfortable on the ground, and I simply enjoyed it.

What I loved about Brazilian Jujitsu was that mindset-wise, it was very similar to the chess-like nature of fighting with sticks and blades: You had to be calm despite the chaos around you. You had to think with a clear head, and think several steps ahead of the other guy. You had to use positioning, brains, and timing to execute a finishing shot. All of these aspects were very similar to my Kali training, and was a far departure from the harsh, give and take nature of Muay Thai that I was learning while living in Thailand during that time. Also, as a young, athletic teen, it was just FUN. Usually, wrestling and roughhousing are shunned when you are a kid, but whenever I was training in Kali or Brazilian Jujitsu, it was encouraged (within reason of course). 

In the last few years, I have come across many individuals with a strong Brazilian Jujitsu background, and many of my close friends have a strong Brazilian Jujitsu background as well.

As for myself, I have not been training in Brazilian Jujitsu at all in the last decade, mainly because I have been focusing primarily on my Kali training and creating new curricula for Bayani Warrior. However, I do encourage my students to get even just a small amount of Brazilian Jujitsu training, even just for a few months, for the following reasons:

1) Being that MMA and Brazilian Jujitsu are so popular nowadays, it may be common to come across an adversary who is versed in Brazilian Jujitsu. As a result, it’s important to understand Brazilian Jujitsu so that a Kali guy can learn how to counter a BJJ practitioner effectively, with or without weapons.

2) Brazilian Jujitsu is excellent for training a weapons practitioner how to stay calm while getting choked, or while engaging in a close-quarters struggle. Many Kali practitioners do not feel they will ever be in a grappling situation. However, if in close-quarters, and if you are trying to access your blade, you may find yourself tied up in a grappling situation with the enemy. Yes, Kali does have grappling, but it is not trained in the isolated, specialized way that Brazilian Jujitsu does it. 

3) Brazilian Jujitsu can teach female Kali practitioners how to fight if they are on their back fending off a rape attempt. While I believe no true life-or-death fight should go to the ground due to multiple opponents, I still believe that for Anti-Rape techniques, a basic understanding of posting on the enemy’s hips and inside elbows while on the ground is definitely beneficial for female Kali practitioners. I feel a very basic understanding of Brazilian Jujitsu, fused with a high-level of skill with a blade, would ruin any rapist’s day. 

4) Training Jujitsu in a Gi actually teaches you how to use the adversary’s clothing as a weapon against them for choking, throws, and other techniques. If you live in a place where people wear heavy coats, learning how to manipulate another persons clothing can be incredibly beneficial from a combative standpoint. 

Now, I know that there are probably a lot of Kali practitioners reading this thinking, “Brazilian Jujitsu is a sport. Kali is for combat. My blade will destroy anyone trying to take me to the ground.” Quite honestly, these individuals are not wrong in their assertion. During my Edged Weapon Survival Education classes, I often demonstrate how easy it is to conceal a blade and how proper usage of the blade basically nullifies any type of grappling maneuver. However, in order to properly understand how to use your blade against a Brazilian Jujitsu fighter, you need to learn Brazilian Jujitsu as a means to see how your skills stack up against them. You don’t need to be a Gracie Black Belt to do this, but it does pay to have experience rolling with a high-level Jujitsu player so you can learn how to use your blade properly against such an adversary.

Now, while I do recognize Brazilian Jujitsu’s strengths, it fails to address multiple opponents, weapons, and the like. I have met a lot of individuals, Filipino or otherwise, who feel no need to train in the fighting arts of the Philippines. Some say it’s not practical…that they don’t carry a weapon and therefore, there is no point in training with them. Some say they just like the sport of it. Whatever their reason, a Brazilian Jujitsu practitioner can and SHOULD learn Kali, for the following reasons.

1) As stated before, Brazilian Jujitsu doesn’t realistically address multiple opponent scenarios. It is mainly practiced as a one-on-one art. Atienza Kali approaches the topic of Multiple Opponents in a very practical and realistic way due to the real-life experience of the Tuhons who used the system to protect themselves on the street. 

2) From what I’ve seen, the vast majority of Brazilian jujitsu practitioners believe that every fight will be a one-on-one empty hand fist fight. In reality, the vast majority of violent encounters are rarely one-on-one, and many of them involve edged weapons, firearms, or bludgeons. While I have seen many Brazilian Jujitsu practitioners approach the topic of weapons defense, very few of them address weapons fights in a realistic way. As a result, I encourage Brazilian Jujitsu practitioners who are serious about real-world fighting to take up Kali as a means to round out their combative skills for the street. One Brazilian Jujitsu instructor that I feel has done a great job of understanding the necessity of weapons training is my friend Justin “Master Chim” Garcia, the owner of the Jungle Gym in the Bronx, NY who is a popular figure in his own right and began his training in Sayoc Kali a few years ago. 

3) Common forms of Brazilian Jujitsu do not address how to realistically protect a loved one against a violent threat, namely multiple attackers. Again, there are some who attempt this, but very few of them teach and train such methods in a realistic way. 

In conclusion, I am a hardcore Filipino Kali practitioner who has a fond and deep respect for Brazilian Jujitsu. I feel that Kali and Brazilian Jujitsu practitioners can benefit a lot from cross-training with each other, and I feel that both systems have training platforms that can only enhance anyone’s level of skill. 

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