Martial Arts


I wrestled for 15 years all the way through high school where in my junior year I entered martial Arts. I studied jiu jitsu, and kick boxing mostly. After 5 years of fighting in a cage as a professional, and a few scraps outside of competition I can confidently say that against your average Joe, and also elite fighters, the ability to control the other person on the ground even if you aren't inflicting damage, using wrestling and jiu jitsu, is extremely important. It allows you to weaken stronger opponents, tire out people with better conditioning, and force them to open up opportunities to end the confrontation. I would have done my entrance to and fighting style choices the same, just wish I had started the true martial arts earlier in my life.


Currently back into Judo right now, hopefully jumping into competitions soon. Looking to start stepping into BJJ as well. Did jujitsu for a short time, before that, got my black belt in Hanbo. If I had to go back to start over, I'd keep the Hanbo for sure, nice to be able to use anything from an umbrella to a cane to keep some distance if necessary. But I'd stick with the Judo from when I started young and keep going with it instead of taking a break of a couple years.

Greg "Sully" Sullivan

I am believer that each of the Martial Arts has things to teach, and there is not one perfect art that covers everything. My father pushed me into the Traditional Shotokan Karate as a child, and I have been studying since. I am a firm believer that it is a life long study, and that each of the Martial Arts has lessons to be learned.

When I got into Law Enforcement three decades ago, there really wasn't much defensive tactics training. We were issued a baton, and told to hit people across the knee. We did get some training in the Kubaton, and a few baton & arm bar techniques from the Defensive Tactics Institute (Kubota & Peters stuff). We were also issued flat saps, sap gloves, riot sticks & helmets, and gas masks for disturbances (riots) where CS gas was deployed. Taser International and pepper sprays didn't exist yet. What I found being a young LEO, is that some of this stuff worked well, and some didn't, so I went in search of learning more. I went through several different types of defensive tactics instructor schools, which also led me into studying some Aikido and Judo.

I am honored to occasionally get to train with a local LEO, who has his own Aikido/Judo Dojo, who teaches these Arts in traditional form, then will also teaches these into what he calls Police Application, which is where he focuses on using techniques to take people to the ground and end up in cuffing positions.

The Shotokan Karate has taught me about solid foundations, power generation, center of gravity, reading distances, fighting in close, etc. When I apply the Shotokan foundation and power generation principles to the Aikido, I find that I am able to generate greater pressure when doing locks & holds, take downs, throws, etc. In three decades of being an LEO, I have used the power generation in control holds & takedowns, used some kicks to take out doors, used some blocks and strikes (both empty hand and baton), used some throw and done some ground fighting (I prefer to be on my feet, as being on the ground fighting with a badguy where mobility is limited is a dangerous place to be imho).

Greg Sullivan "Sully"
SLR15 Rifles
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In 1980 When I started karate in my small town as a 10 year old Okinawan Kenpo was the only school we had. Stuck with it until I went off to college. Knowing what I know I would have seeked a style that combined boxing, Krav Magi, Ju-Jitsu, and Escrima.


I would have wrestled as a youngster and into high school. I started Judo at a young age and had to stop a few years into it because the school closed. I think it would have been nice to stick with that awhile longer. I would have also started Jiu Jitsu a LOT earlier (like in my 20's).


Outside of high school and (if you're good enough) college, there isn't a lot of opportunity to do wrestling so I wish I'd done it in school. The one private wrestling gym I've seen since I've started looking is actually only a mile from my house... but if you're older than 18 then they don't cater to you there.

BJJ is what I'm really trying to get better at and I often allude it to a language: it takes years of usage to gain fluency in it, so start early and practice A LOT. If you've got kids then see if they're interested in starting jitz; not only is it useful in a fight, but the participants in kids' classes always seem to be having a ton of fun there. In any case, I've been doing BJJ for going on two years in January and I'm still not very good. Like I said, it takes time to learn, especially if you're as dumb as I am.

I've started doing MMA almost a year ago and I've learned that I'm actually a huge pussy when it comes to getting hit. Don't know why that is since outside of that environment I seem to have an above-average tolerance for discomfort, but I want to overcome and get some confidence back. Now that there are gyms where you can walk in and start learning both striking and grappling (i.e.: MMA), I think that that's the way to go if you're a tabula rasa or if you're willing to just learn something new. If you're a moderately intelligent human being, then you ought to be able to contextualize MMA skills for your needs.

Finally, check out Shivworks' ECQC class, no matter what martial art you currently do. I wish I'd taken that class immediately after learning the fundamentals of running a pistol.


Staff member
BJJ is what I'm really trying to get better at and I often allude it to a language: it takes years of usage to gain fluency in it, so start early and practice A LOT. If you've got kids then see if they're interested in starting jitz; not only is it useful in a fight, but the participants in kids' classes always seem to be having a ton of fun there. In any case, I've been doing BJJ for going on two years in January and I'm still not very good. Like I said, it takes time to learn, especially if you're as dumb as I am.
It is a language and learning words is easy, phrases tougher, sentences can be a nightmare. We don't need sentences to be functional for why we do this though.

Finally, check out Shivworks' ECQC class, no matter what martial art you currently do. I wish I'd taken that class immediately after learning the fundamentals of running a pistol.
Should be mandatory.


I started Japanese Karate at 13 and after 20 plus years of training and teaching I got into Brazilian Jui Jitsu at 30. I feel like I wasted 20 years..
But really a combination of good stand up fighting and a lot of ground fighting is the way to go. If I could go back to 13, I would wrestle and find a good BJJ school.


I would go back and start wrestling at an earlier age; I would also look at Japanese Ju-Jitsu as well as it's Brazilian counterpart. Along those lines I also would have sought more formal training from the Army for combatives instead of unit level stuff, especially when it comes to fighting in gear, fighting with and around weapons, and fighting with and against teams. In my experience, a fight will end up on the ground. The only real variable is how the fight gets there, and who is in charge when it happens, and how quickly friends get there to influence the fight.

As far as the sport vs combat aspect, I learned early on that wrestling forced you to give your back up to prevent points or pins; BJJ forced you to use your back as a "dominant" position. After a few years of learning, I've found that a take down to a top mount- either a full mount or knee mount/similar is my end goal if the fight looks like it's going to the ground. And I fully agree with the poster that said fighting in gear is a whole different animal. Especially when it comes to body position and balance.


Wish I didn't waste 8 years of my youth doing sport taekwondo. Yeah I learned flashy kicks but if I focused on muay Thai in my early years and then bjj later on it would have been awesome. Much harder learning the mechanics of proper kicking, it seems, as you age. And although I'll be a lifetime practitioner of bjj, realistically a high level blue or purple belt has enough grappling knowledge to handle himself in the streets. But a high level blue or purple with no striking experience is gonna be put in the hurt box if he gets cuffed a few times and doesn't know how to deal with that.

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To really answer this for the OP, I'd really like to know more...but, since it was open ended, I will answer for me and frame it in the context of my work.

As someone who's had the opportunity to engage in a healthy amount of hand to hand, "street fighting" in the course of my job (in my 11th year as a patrol officer in a good size municipality), I will say that I wish I'd gotten into BJJ earlier and also spent more time training Muay-Thai.

That being said, I've trained BJJ on and off since 2003. I've been fortunate enough to attend the Gracie Survival Tactics Instructor Certification course twice (2012 and 2016) and I am currently a certified GST Level 1 instructor. I teach both our new hires as well as the rest of the department during annual in-service training (4 hour block of instruction every other year - trying to get more).

I'm sure there's a place for the flashier stuff beyond the silver screen - I just haven't seen it yet. I wasted 3 years of my early youth on TKD and all that remains is that I can still throw solid kicks when sparring. While I have kicked one person in the course of my work (and it was a justified use of force), the opportunity for kicks is almost nonexistent in LE as the fight rarely stays vertical for more than a few seconds in my experience.

I don't care much for the traditional martial arts as I find that the great majority are wholly ineffective when applied in an environment where your opponent is unpredictable. Sure, some black belt Karate ninja might rule his dojo, but when you leave that safe space and your opponent may be armed with a knife or a firearm the game changes significantly.

I put a lot of the flashier stuff in perspective - IF it works, it CAN be effective. They're like trick shooters - fun to watch but not necessarily practical in an uncontrolled environment. However, it's been my experience that most of the fancy moves work perfectly a very low percentage of the time and usually end up leaving the "artist" in a compromised position (often in shock that their "move" didn't result in their opponents still beating heart in the palm of their hand). Most martial "artists" don't train enough outside of their own disciplines and all end up as Dojo Masters with no real world fights to their name. Nor do most train often enough to be able to adjust on the fly to an opponent who hasn't been dancing at the same dojo and is not going to move in a manner they're accustomed to.

I find that controlling your opponents ability to access a weapon (or strike you effectively) does much more for your chances of winning than a sweet wheel kick that you might land 5% of the time in a real fight.

Am I saying to engage every single person you come across in a ground fight? Certainly not. You have to consider if there are multiple threats, whether or not that person has training of their own (cauliflower ear is an easy thing to spot), and whether or not it even NEEDS to happen at all. I tend to talk myself out of far more fights than I can recall. People tend to forget that when you engage another person in hand to hand combat any outcome is possible and even if you win handily, you may still take some damage inadvertently. When I get into a physical fight it's because all other options are off the table.

Just my $.02.


I trained a little in the late 70's in Shotokan and Tang Soo Do then several years ago trained some in Jeet Kune Do and Krav Maga. From everything I've heard and seen I would train in BJJ and Muay Thai.
My regrets, roughly in descending order of amount of regret:

I regret starting Tae Kwon Do when I was 6 or 7 instead of Judo. But UFC 1 hadn't happened back then, kung fu kicks were still teh deadly, and we didn't know that uchi mata'ing fools was the path to righteous justice. I mean, Gene LeBell knew but my parents didn't.

I regret quitting jits through undergrad & grad school for money reasons. I could be a brown or black belt rn instead of blue. Or maybe I could have taken Judo instead to save money. Are you seeing a theme here?

I regret every time I've pulled guard in competition. It was because I never took Judo and never learned how to ippon seoi a motherfucker.
I did taekwondo as a kid and wish I would have done Judo or Wrestling instead. TKD will get you kilt on da streets. I ended up picking up Judo during college for about two years, but discontinued it after I started training BJJ full time. It has been 11 years and I am now a two stripe brown belt, I wish I would have continued with Judo but there are only so many hours in a day. I finally turn 30 in a month, so I can compete in the Masters 1 division and get away from these 18-21 year olds that have an endless gas tank and do nothing but train BJJ 2-3x a day and lift. I have a career and a family, so I cant train nearly as much as they do. BJJ is an amazing martial art, but most instructors without a solid Judo or Wrestling background really neglect takedowns and throws. I would try to find a instructor that competes regularly and is adept with standup game as well.
My brain wishes I did less hard sparring.
There were a lot of good boxers and kick boxers teaching in my area when I was younger.
I do regret quitting wrestling in hs.


"This was a fresh new experience and was sold as "No Rules" (except groin strikes and eye gouging)."

There was NO such rule in UFC 1. There was a gentlemen's agreement NOT to, but you could do just had to pay the other guy 1000.00 for it.