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Real Combat Grappling vs Sport Grappling


I’ve been working on a project for about a month with Sensei Russ on a expanding his H2H American Self Defense System to include a website and some additional resources… more about that later. Sensei Russ and I have been talking back and forth about real combat related tactics, training and techniques. So last night I attended the Kobukai Ju-Jitsu class before my no-gi BJJ class and Sensei decided to demonstrate some of the differences between Sport Grappling and Real Combat Grappling

The Combat Guard vs The Sport Guard

One could say that the guard is one of the core aspects in sport grappling. There are 1000s of attacks and techniques from there some that work with a gi or without a gi, but when your opponent is different intentions – trying to kill you instead of trying to pass your guard, the range of techniques available to you quickly diminishes…. The guard stops being a place to “play guard” and turns into a place of quickly destroy something and get the fuck out!

Effective Combat Defense Tactics from Guard

Let me preface this by saying these techniques are geared more toward causing extreme pain and discomfort to your opponent and using the pain to escape. They are NOT submissions or ways to beat your opponent. They are ways to create an “opening”. One of the best things to do after these tactics is use the technical standup from guard as highlighted in a previous post.

  • Spear-Hand to the Throat – get a really tight grip on your opponent. Control his sleeve and collar; and use your legs for additional control. Keeping a tight grip on his sleeve, take your other hand and point your fingers straight out and slightly at a downward angle… slightly. Drive your speared hand into the hole in this throat just below the adam’s apple. Drive it into his throat like it’s your JOB! This will cause extreme discomfort and force his head back. Now, keep driving into his throat and standup from guard. Attack him from this position, draw your weapon and attack, or get the fuck out!
  • Spear Toes to the Throat – In this attack you are in the scissor guard or cross guard position. This is one of the overall best self defense guard positions you could use. Extremely effective for keeping your opponent away, sweeping your opponent or standing up from guard.
    So you are in the scissor guard position with your left shin across his stomach. You are controlling his right arm with your leg arm and your right foot his on his hip. Your right arm has a collar grip. Push your body back slightly by pushing off with your right foot and then take your right foot’s big toe and drive it into his throat just below the adam’s apple. He’ll respond by throwing his head back and you can escape, get your weapon or attack.
  • Under the ear pressure points – Right under your ear lob there is a slight divot, if you drive your fingers in there hard enough, it is a great pressure point. Lets same someone is trying to choke you from the top guard position. Most of us know that this is highly ineffective because you can use your legs to keep him back. But, lets say you are unable to do this. Take your both of your middle fingers and BURY them into those divots. The response is quite amusing! I was trying this with Gary and I was HELL BOUND INTENT on choking him out from guard. He drove those fingers in there and I tried like hell to continue to choke… but I could not. This is a great way to make someone react.
  • Load Bearing VestThe Military Armbar from Guard – We started drilling armbars last night and I quickly went to my grappling armbar. Sensei quickly made a point about military uniforms and Load Bearing Vests (LBV). LBV’s contain a strap that runs down on each side of their body right over their chest. LBVs are not loose like a gi or shirt, but very tight, so they make great handles. You can grab on hand on the LBV strap and push, and pull with the other hand on his sleeve. This sets up up a nice armbar and gives you better control of both arms. The sport grappling armbar I was executing had their other arm free. Bad news if he’s got a gun or a knife.

Tactics from the Standing Position

Any of those pain compliance techniques work from the standing position as well. If someone is choking you, attack their ears, grabbing you, use the spear hand, etc. But I just wanted to highlight one tactic that I thought was interesting. Your chest muscle is basically split into two and between those two halves lies another pressure point. If you take your middle knuckle and drive it into his chest while taking your other arm and use it to pull his opposite shoulder into you, you get him to actually spin fairly decently. You can then wrap your arm around his neck and take him out the door. But instead of having your chest against his back and controlling his neck, turn around, so you are basically back to back and you are walking forward. Obviously you still have your arm wrapped around his neck and your hands locked. It is not fun for the guy getting it done to. Now, here’s one of the interesting things that really illustrates the difference between reality or sport…. add the most common weapon in the world, a knife

Sensei Russ knows some sadistic cool stuff

Knife wielding is a whole other subject that not even 100 blog posts could probably cover. But for this purpose I wanted to illustrate some uses if you have the knife and you are dealing with an attacker… or you just want to take someone out.

Sensei’s illustration started with using the knife butt to aid in any of the techniques we were doing. A good knife fighter will use both sides of the knife equally. The way you hold it is reverse. The butt of the knife is forward and the backside of the knife is against your forearm with the knife blade running down your arm. This allows you to strike with the butt, slash across and stab down. The grip also allows you to use the backside of the side and your forearm to trap. The butt can be used to strike and as a pressuring tool.

Sensei Russ used the butt to turn his opponent and then demonstrated how quickly and easily you can slash your opponent’s throat. But, when you slash his throat he can make a loud gurgling noise as blood and air expel from his throat. So, instead drive the knife down into the hole above the clavicle bone and the trap muscle. This will severe the clavicle artery, be much quieter and will achieve the same effect… death. Only a truly sadistic and truly combat oriented man thinks along those lines… I love it.

I’ll say it again, Sensei Russ knows some sadistic cool stuff


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