Defensive or Offensive Approach - Which one is Right For BJJ?

Defensive or Offensive Approach - Which one is Right For BJJ?
Defensive Strategies Offensive Strategies
How to be defensive? How to be offensive?
Always be focused Always be focused
Know your opponent Have a strong grip on submission applications
Defensive training and practice Consistent training schedule 
Learn from your mistakes Work on your grip strength
Advantages Advantages
Makes you understand your opponent’s plan Do not let your opponent apply submission techniques
Fatigue your opponent Keeps you one step ahead of your opponent
Strong defense enhance confidence  

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a combination of defense and offense. Someone can be defensive or offensive in his fighting style depending upon the factors like personal preferences, opponent, and individual’s fighting style.

There are different schools of thought which have their own ways on offensive or defensive approaches during the fight. It is very difficult to conclude which argument or approach is more helpful in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Even people who are learning BJJ for self-defense purposes can be more offensive in their fighting style because the active implementation of techniques will help them to ensure defense.

Defensive techniques are very helpful to achieve invincibility. Defense is necessary to escape from the opponent’s grip and avoid submissions. But to submit your opponent, it is necessary to be offensive in your fighting style. A Chinese military officer, Sun Tzu stated in his book “Arts of war”,

"Invincibility lies in the defense, and the possibility of victory lies in the attack."

Let’s have a discussion about defensive and offensive BJJ fighting styles/approaches, benefits, application techniques, and the importance of balance.

1. What Are Defensive and Offensive Approaches in BJJ?

The offensive fighting style in BJJ includes active movements, early attacks, and thorough implementation of BJJ techniques. 

Defensive skills include how to resolve an undefeatable situation or escape from some uncomfortable or painful position or escape from submissions.    

2. Defensive Strategies

Defensive techniques include those that can be helpful to escape from someone’s grip or uncomfortable position. Building a good Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu defensive approach is a process and all about being unsubmittable.

Defensive techniques help you to survive on the mat. These techniques give you a chance to perform well.

2.1. How to be Defensive in BJJ?

Submission by your opponent is the worst feeling ever, let’s face that. To avoid submissions, it is necessary to build a good defense. Defense is one of the crucial aspects of BJJ. Good all round defense requires proper training, sparring, rolling, and drilling. To improve defense for BJJ, these are some important points.

  1. Always be focused
  2. Should know your opponent
  3. Defensive, Training, and Practice 
  4. Learn from your mistakes
  5. Work on your defenses

2.2 Benefits of the Defensive Approach

Defense is a prerequisite to secure yourself from getting submitted. To bring your BJJ skills to another level, you should focus on your defense. Once you are an expert in defense and learn to escape from various positions, it would be easy to apply your game plan and submit your opponent.

Understand Your Opponent’s Plan

Defense is about understanding what your opponent is planning to do next. It is very necessary to stop and counter your moves, techniques, and submission attacks.

Fatigue Your Opponent

Master Helio Gracie always used the strategy to fatigue his opponent by defending his attacks and simultaneously understanding the game plan and skill level of the opponent. Once his opponent gets tired, then he used to attack with an offensive approach.

“Defend and then win.”

Strong Defense Enhanced Confidence

Gordon Ryan, famous as No-Gi GOAT, mentioned that strong defense will lead you toward victory. According to Gorden, if you are successfully defending against attacks from your opponent or get swept from some guard or escape from some uncomfortable situation, you will get more confidence against your opponent and you can subdue him more easily.  

Learn from Losing

Garry Tonon also mentioned that he always tried different positions with his fellows and experienced various difficult positions which helped him to improve his defense. Losing to your fellows in the training room is not an issue of ego but it is helpful to improve defense strategies.     

3. Offensive Strategies

Defense against the submission attacks can be helpful to get more confident and prepare one to counter back with superiority. To win the fight, you have to be offensive and activate your energy to submit your opponent.

3.1. How to be Offensive in BJJ?

When you overcome your shortcomings in defense. Now you are ready to survive on the mat for a long time. This will give you the opportunity to launch offense.

The offensive approach mainly consists of attacking first with strong grips, flawless balance, and the skills of completing the submission.

Some tricks to be more offensive in your BJJ fight are as follows

  1. Always be focused
  2. Build strong techniques of submission applications
  3. Consistent training schedule  
  4. Work on your grip strength

3.2. Benefits of the Offensive Approach

Despite the importance and need for defense strategies, some people still have their focus on offensive techniques which is fine. They believe in the power of always initiation, moving first, and staying one step ahead of your opponent.

Do not Wait for Times Moment

Do not cease to move and attack your opponent. Never let him think that you are going to fulfill his plan. Bernardo Faria, a big name in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu said that you should not waste a lot of time defending your opponent’s attack.

Rather along with good defense, you should also be offensive and aggressive. This idea is about always trying for submission and not waiting for the clock.  

Make it Difficult for Your Opponent

Do not let your opponent take it easy by only defending his attempts. You should also attack with precise and calculated risks. 

Do not let Your Opponent Think About Submission Techniques

Kron Gracie is well known due to his submission-oriented game. His fighting style involves continuous attacks and keeping his opponent busy and stuck in defending his techniques.   

Keep yourself one Step Ahead

Marcelo Gracia always adopts an offensive strategy in his game which keeps him activated in all the matches and does not let the opponents attack. 

4. Balance is Crucial

Defensive and offensive strategies are necessary for BJJ to get the victory. It is difficult to classify one strategy as more important than the other. Both defensive and offensive approaches are equally important for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu competitors.

The defensive game helps to stay longer on the mat, gives more opportunities, and is also helpful to stay away from injuries. While the offensive approach helps to achieve a win by submitting the opponent. First, you have to work on your defense. If you have a stronger defense, it is the right time to give time to offensive training.

The fighting style is also affected by the opponent. It is not in the hands of a fighter to always select a fighting style of his own. But never allow your opponent to lead the game.  

For beginners or white belt holders, it is recommended to stick with defensive techniques so that they can have time to apply some offensive techniques. If they cannot defend themselves for some time on the mat, their offensive strategies are of no need. 

Offensive techniques also require selection and practice. If you are working on all techniques at one time, you cannot become an expert in any specific technique. Practice some specific techniques more than others.

Another aspect is that an offensive strategy is necessary for submission and winning the match. But if you do not know how to defend yourself, you will not get a chance for offensive strategies.

5. Takeaways

Defense and offense fighting styles are both important for a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner to win the fight. Defending strategies are important to elongate your stay on the mat while offensive strategies are important to submit your opponent and win.

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