I am nervous that my BJJ training is negatively affecting my MMA skills (which is what my priority is).

Many of the positions we are drilling in my BJJ class would be a bad idea in an MMA fight, since the BJJ techniques aren't taking into account that your opponent is trying to hit your face.

Simple example: today we focused on some details of escaping mount. This involves controlling the opponent's hips with your arms. Good luck doing that in a MMA fight when your head is being caved in with punches. The technique we learned simply isn't useful for MMA, since your arms need to protect your face. Instead, you need to use your legs to push off into a bridge or get into guard recovery position. The classical BJJ approach simply doesn't work.

And this is just one example; in my opinion this applies to many aspects of BJJ. The positional play simply doesn't take into account that in an MMA fight, you have to protect your face.

The submissions are great though; that is the one area that BJJ can help me with. But everything else is the problem. Am I correct in assuming that it is bad for MMA to drill one's body to react in the ways BJJ teaches? It does not seem suitable for MMA.

I am considering dropping BJJ, and doing wrestling instead, and only practicing BJJ submissions on the side. Does this seem more suitable for MMA?

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    i wouldn't worry about it, sword-fighting doesn't take into account that guns exist. When we play to a higher standard that still gives us an edge in a groin-punching knife-fight. I had a guy punch me in the face when in guard, & i get that it could happen, but if he was going to be in a position to punch me in the face from guard, I could have broken his knees while entering guard... it's all context and respect and what you learn, not the direct combat-application of any technique
    – admcfajn
    Mar 18, 2020 at 2:54
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    @admcfajn That looks like an answer.
    – mattm
    Mar 18, 2020 at 13:01

4 Answers 4


Today we focused on some details of escaping mount. This involves controlling the opponent's hips with your arms. Good luck doing that in a MMA fight when your head is being caved in with ground and pound.

Being under mount is bad. There's no rule that says that you can escape without exposing yourself to strikes or submissions. Saying "I want to escape this really tight bad position but not expose myself in any way" is as childish as asking for a unicorn for your birthday.

If wrestling has better escapes from mount, then use those. I don't think it does. If you pay attention to MMA matches, even the best grapplers have to expose themselves to strikes in order to try to escape from the bottom. Usually the two choices are to turn your back to a "quarter" or "turtle" position, risking strikes, mat returns, and submissions, or to work towards and then use the guard, which risks pins and strikes.

But there is some truth to your concern. Pure BJJ is as useful to MMA or fighting as pure boxing. That is to say, it's extremely useful, but should also be recognized as what it is: a domain to practice a subset of fighting in order to get better at some important aspect of fighting. You have to be wary of tricks that work in the subset that won't work when you put it all together. This is true of any and all of the subsets: pure wrestling teaches bad habits, just like pure boxing or BJJ. But they also develop important skills. One comes with the other.

It's also important to understand that you'll learn those specialized skills (whether grappling, striking) faster in an isolated environment than you would if you tried to do everything at once. In other words, you'll develop slower trying to learn how to punch if every time you punch you have to worry about takedowns. Similarly, it will take you longer to get good at escaping bad positions on the ground if you're worried about being punched in the head every time you practice. Learn the skills on their own first (always prioritizing generally-applicable skills rather than sport-specific skills) and integrate them into your MMA practice later.


It is much easier to learn a proper technique to get out of mount in the first place and adapting it to MMA environment afterwards. One shouldn't learn things doing it in half-measures.

It seems you have not yet understood the main premises of BJJ, which hold in MMA as well:

1. Position before submission

When you are in a weak position - like being mounted - you have to fear that you are subject to ground and pound, yes. But it is not the ground and pound which should be your main concern, it should be your weak position. It does not matter what you do or what your opponent does. As long as you stay in that position, it is much easier for your opponent both to hurt and to capitalize from mistakes than it is for you. That is why your main concern is and has to be getting out of that position.

2. No compromises - effective technique or nothing

One may well think about a thousand possibilities and try to embrace and secure oneself against all possible kinds of attacks, but truth be told: you can't. Think about knife defense as an analogous example: Yes, you could think about a gazillion ways of effectively warding off the weapon and disarming the aggressor, truth be told, that is not your main goal: that is surviving. And the best way to ensure survival is disabling the aggressor as fast as possible. Yes, you try to block, sure. You prevent and mitigate as much damage as possible. But you will be cut or stabbed anyway and you will survive most of it for long enough to get help, but if you don't stop the attack, you will accumulate wounds until they become lethal. Therefore, you accept that you will get hurt because you are in a bad situation and carry on with getting out of it. It may sound paradoxical, but attack is your main focus here.

The same is true for mount: Yes, they will try to beat the sh*t out of you and you will not be able to fend off all of these attacks anyway even though you certainly try to roll punches and block them as much as possible. Therefore, the sensible thing to do is to use the most effective way to end this problematic situation with all your focus and strength, and as fast as possible. The most effective way to do so is what you learn in BJJ (and wrestling, and Judo, and Sambo, ...because it works). Starting to learn the technique, it will take you what feels like ages and you will not be able to manage strikes at the same time, but with experience and body development, you will see that it becomes much faster. Even if you get hit a few times, it will still be less damage than what you have to expect if you just defend or try other (less decisive and effective) ways to get the hell out of there.

3. On the reality of fights

Disadvantageous positions like the ones you describe do not come out of thin air: they are a consequence of you having made a mistake, being outplayed, or generally inferior. You probably already took a hit at that moment and are dizzy. All that can possibly be of help now are automatic response patterns like rolling the punches and escape techniques.

Having said this, you oversaw a major point here: Once the balance of your opponent is compromised, they cannot possibly do any effective ground and pound. Even if they hit you, it won't hurt that much, since they cannot generate power. And one of the first steps of any defense/escape will be compromising the balance of your opponent.

This holds true for probably any problematic aspect you made out. In every other one, either adding a guard is no problem, or your opponent is in a compromised position from which there are no powerful blows possible and they would risk counters which bring them in peril themselves.


It is helpful to train the situations and techniques with strikes allowed as soon as you gained some proficiency in applying them. That's what your MMA sparring sessions are for. This includes how to roll punches and protect your head as much as possible while escaping the position with the best possible technique. But without a clear plan to get out of that inferior position in the first place, you will continue to be in a disadvantageous position. And the longer this happens, the lower your chances.

Not focusing on learning the proper technique for this first but trying to learn everything at once means that it takes you longer to become proficient as a complete fighter compared to problem-specific drills.

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    This seems wrong. You are pretending as if the only alternative to classical BJJ is to just sit there forever and fend off the attacks. Uhm, no. That's literally the opposite of what I'm saying. What I am saying is that BJJ needs to adapt itself so that the particular technique we apply to get out of the bad position is OPTIMAL taking into account the ground and pount. Current BJJ techniques are NOT optimal. I just watched a video with Eddie Bravo where he explains some basic ideas that are meant to protect your face while you do BJJ. These are the things I'm not seeing in my class.
    – anum
    Mar 18, 2020 at 1:29
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    Further, according to you, the "premise" of BJJ is to get yourself into bad positions and then having to escape them? Because you do realize ground and pound can be executed even when trapped in somebody's guard? These are positions that a BJJ class teaches you to actually put yourself in. Now I am saying that's not a good idea, and here you are defending it by saying no, no, no, BJJ will get you out of that position. But you watch any BJJ tournament and everybody is putting themselves in those inferior positions all the time. So is 100 % of the ground-game off BJJ null and void in MMA?
    – anum
    Mar 18, 2020 at 1:32
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    @anum Ground and pound against a good guard is nigh impossible. That's the point of the position. If someone does ground and pound against a guard, the person having that guard is either out of gas or really bad on the ground. Don't try to sell your prejudices (or lack of ability) as gospel. Mar 18, 2020 at 6:39
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    @tye649 Yes, when people got a knock and go to the ground because they received a heavy hit they have a hard time defending, guard or no guard, BJJ black belt or mediocre street brawler. Oh, what a surprise. That's what is usually called confirmation bias/selective sampling. One should not pretend that in these situations, there is any training preventing you from being pounded. Mar 19, 2020 at 11:43
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    Silva's defensive work from his back, in guard and even when mounted, was actually a fairly good demonstration of avoiding damage while getting hit. He rolled with nearly every punch, took far less damage on the ground than when he was standing, and tired his opponent out. This is a hard concept to grasp if you think martial arts are about being victorious every second from start to finish, but one of BJJ's strengths is finding the ideal way to survive if you find yourself stuck in a bad spot. Mar 22, 2020 at 18:43

Eddie Bravo created his own Jiu Jitsu system because he doesn't feel like the classic approach is working well for MMA. You can find many BJJ champions who aren't doing so hot in their transition to MMA.

Your example for the mount escape isn't as bad as an example as ground and pound from the top in guard. I would love to hear why this isn't addressed in typical BJJ classes. MMA fighters have basically 0 interest in passing your guard like Sport BJJ people do; they will hang in your guard to punch you in the face.

Not sure I would flat out quit, since you need ground skills for MMA. Ask questions during your class, and maybe they can help you tweak the technique.

  • I don't know about you, but punching me in my face while being in my guard is not nearly as easy as you make it sound. Well, except maybe one is really bad at guard game and keeps laying flat on one's back...which would be like not having the guard at all. I have an extreme control over my opponent's balance and distances with my guard which is like the whole point of the position in the first place. Mar 17, 2020 at 22:13
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    About Eddie Bravo, I don't know what to say, since as far as I know (which is not much) he is not a successful MMA fighter or even a successful MMA coach...
    – Eduardo
    Mar 17, 2020 at 23:29
  • @PhilipKlöcking I've seen many fighters with good Jiu Jitsu creds get punched while they have someone in their guard. For unskilled opponents, it's easy enough to sweep/submit, but guys who train know how to posture up and land shots. Unless you train a lot with fighters, I don't believe that you can protect yourself that well (no gi specifically).
    – tye649
    Mar 18, 2020 at 21:24
  • @Eduardo Eddie trains Tony Ferguson and some other fighters.
    – tye649
    Mar 18, 2020 at 21:25

Indeed, actually in the UFC, 1,2 and 4 Royce Gracie showed to everyone how all these Jiu-Jitsu basic fundamentals does not work.

Maybe you need to ask your self why great jiu-jitsu and fighters like Demian Maia, Gilbert Burns, Ronaldo Jacaré, Charles do Bronks, Roger Gracie, Nate Diaz, who successfully adapted their Jiu-Jitsu for MMA, consider essential to train jiu-jitsu with GI in every camp.

Your argument is so absurd as saying that pure wrestling is not effective because when training single and double legs, they do not take into account flying knee on the face...

I recommend you to watch the fight: Minotauro vs Bob Sapp. In this fight, Minotauro use the most basic jiu-jitsu to defeat Bob Sapp who outweighed Minotauro by 127 pounds.

  • There are examples of Jiu Jitsu champions failing with their transition to MMA. Kron Gracie, Mackenzie Dern, Roger Gracie, etc. And some don't train with the GI, because they don't find it helpful.
    – tye649
    Mar 17, 2020 at 19:19
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    Actually Roger Gracie has (or have) an amazing career on MMA, on Strikeforce and One FC.
    – Eduardo
    Mar 17, 2020 at 19:29
  • @tye649 "And some don't train with the GI, because they don't find it helpful..." What I'm saying is not my opinion, but public information, available on several specialized sites, that great MMA fighters, who use Jiu Jitsu very successfully in their fights, like the above mentioned, consider consider essential to their octagon performance to train GI jiu jitsu... See for instance this video about BJ Penn: youtube.com/watch?v=OFdFpp1tIAM
    – Eduardo
    Mar 17, 2020 at 19:33
  • Roger washed out of the UFC. Eddie Bravo has several schools and none of them teach the gi.
    – tye649
    Mar 17, 2020 at 20:40
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    @tye649 Actually Roger Gracie has only one fight in UFC, so "washed out" sounds to me as an overstatement (by the way I'm not even a fan of RG). About Eddie Bravo, I don't know what to say, since as far as I know (which is not much) he is not a successful MMA fighter or even a successful MMA coach...
    – Eduardo
    Mar 17, 2020 at 21:43

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