MMA 101: What Is Combat Jiu Jitsu?

People who think that jiu jitsu is already a form of combat, would be correct. Kinda. The current iteration of jiu jitsu is not what it started as. When the Gracies first laid down their mats in California, you would have been hard pressed to find a butt scooter, or a real guard puller. At its inception, Brazilian jiu jitsu was first and foremost a self defense system, complete with its own striking philosophy. Today, it’s hard to find a gym that teaches the old school Gracie striking and blocking system. That’s fine; the sport has evolved into, well, a sport first, not a true self defense mechanism. The recent rise of combat jiu jitsu is an attempt to revitalize the parts of jiu jitsu lost to its evolution, and bring in new eyes to this niche sport.

What is combat jiu jitsu?

Combat jiu jitsu allows strikes once an opponent has reached the ground. Strikes are limited to open hand palm strikes.Think bitch slap and classic tiger paw strikes. Closed fist strikes are not allowed, not because they aren’t effective, but because athletic commissions suck. Combatants aren’t allowed to strike while on the feet – one opponent must be down in order for strikes to begin. Once an opponent is grounded, strikes are allowed to the head and body. Groin strikes are out, for what I hope are obvious reasons. For those of you wondering how hard you can really hit with an open hand, look up an old Bas Rutten fight. Bas knocked people silly with the palm of his hand. Getting hit is getting hit, it’s tough to take.

Why combat jiu jitsu?

Jiu jitsu is absolutely effective, no argument there. In a realistic situation, i.e., one where a drunk frat boy is winging haymakers on a street corner somewhere, pulling guard is an awful idea. Combat jiu jitsu shines light on the areas of the current sport that may not necessarily be high percentage techniques outside of a sanctioned competition. For example, heel hooks are nasty, really nasty. They are also really, really hard to pull off when the potential hookee is sitting up into your 50/50 and belting you in the face. Combat jiu jitsu also offers the casual fan something to grab onto outside of the subtlety of sport jiu jitsu. All of us bjj nerds really love the detail that goes into a well-executed flower sweep, or a tight gi choke. Normal people? That’s all lost on them. Two fighters winging bitch slaps from on high? That’s more likely to get a non jiujitero’s attention.

There’s another practical benefit to combat jiu jitsu. It’s kinda like MMA lite. The grappling component is still there, the takedowns mean a lot more in combat jiu jitsu than they do in regular BJJ, and the odds you’re going to get hit are almost 100%. It’s a good bridge for competitors to cross in order to discern if they really want to go full-on MMA, or if grappling is where they want to stay.

Where is combat jiu jitsu?

Currently combat jiu jitsu is only really available on the EBI platform. At each of the recent EBI events there’s been a combat jiu jitsu component. Go take a look at them – the results are surprising. Mr. Bravo has done a good job of simply letting the fighters fight, and the strikes make the grappling take on a different look.

Combat jiu jitsu is great for the sport. It harkens back to the genesis of the practice, helps sort out techniques that should be left at the gym, and which aspects can come with a person out into the world. It’s also oddly satisfying to watch someone bring a full on super slap to the side of a leg lockers face. That could just be me, but I enjoy it. Go check out some combat jiu jitsu.

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