First things first, here is my bio to gauge whether or not my opinions are relevant to you:
Lifelong martial artist (TKD, Muay Thai, BJJ), no LEO or military experience (save being an Air Force brat), NRA pistol instructor (who isn’t?). I have received previous training from George Wehby of I4Tactical, Matt Jacques of Victory First, John Murphy of FPF, Aaron Brumley of Solo Defense, Steve Fisher of Sentinel Concepts, and private training with Al DeLeon of the State Dept’s MSD unit. I shoot anywhere from 200 to 400 rounds a week. I try to compete three times a month. When not traveling for work I train BJJ 2 t o3 times a week.
OK now that is out of the way and you decided to continue reading, let me share with you four things I learned in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu that helped me improve my shooting ability. They are:
Understanding how the body works or Technique vs Strength and Speed
How to research an instructor
Sport vs self defense
Understanding how the body works or Technique vs Strength vs Speed
One of the most important things I learned from my BJJ Coach Tony Passos (www.tonypassosbjj.com) is that, “The body works how the body works”. Meaning that it doesn’t matter how fast you are or how strong you are, or if you have a gi on or a pistol in your hand, the kinesiology of the body remains constant. Sure you might be able to “cheat”. Meaning your size or strength or speed may allow you to cut corners on proper technique but all you are doing is creating inefficiency and cheating yourself. In addition, if someone tries to tell you that rules of physics and motion do not apply to the activity you are doing and cannot easily explain to you why this is the case, then they are a snake oil salesman and you should look elsewhere for training.
Likewise with firearms training, if an instructor cannot tell you why you are doing something or offers, “That is how we have always done it”, then they are stuck in a dogmatic cycle with no hope of evolution or adaptability. Much like traditional martial arts before the proving grounds of the UFC smashed the accepted norms, firearms training has been hindered by dated theories created to ” just get the guy through the qualification”. Things must evolve, but they must do so within the laws of physics and kinesiology.
Despite what a lot of people think on the interwebs, the possession of a penis does not mean you know automatically know how to fight or shoot a gun. In BJJ, you are taught a technique, then you drill it with a partner…again….and again….and again. Until you get it perfectly in drilling, you are not going to get it right with a live, resisting opponent. When I first started shooting, the concepts of dry fire practice with live fire authentication made perfect sense. I soon saw people that I thought were on my same level quickly fall behind due to their lack of practice.
Another aspect when I first started shooting was my low left issue. Through drilling, inspection and instruction, I learned that I was over gripping the gun and the sympathetic movement in my hand was causing the gun to dip. Since I knew it had to be something mechanics/technique related I was able to find the answer quickly. Conversely, the number of people I know that just apply the Kentucky Windage approach because they don’t know how to train/practice or their instructor was not skilled enough to diagnosis the issue is staggering.
How to research an instructor
In BJJ there is a phenomenon known as a Brazilian Airlines Black Belt. Meaning, when he left Rio De Janeiro he was a Blue Belt, when he landed in the U.S. he self-promoted himself to Black Belt. Fortunately, because the lineage of BJJ is only 100 years old to its founders Carlos and Helio Gracie and the internet, it is easy to vet instructors. Not so much so with firearms training but it is possible.
Just like in BJJ, if an instructor has reviews, media content (be careful here though), and can show you training they have done as well; you should be in good hands. If however, they do not answer your questions, seem overly aggressive when you do ask questions, or dismiss you. Take your hard earned money to the next dojo or instructor on your list.
Sport VS Self-Defense
Believe it or not, the phrase “That will get you killed in the streets” was not invented by Tactical guys mocking Gamer guys. This struggle has been going on within Martial Arts for centuries. Especially in BJJ, where we view ourselves as a real self-defense art as opposed to the paintbrushes and butterflies of some traditional arts, the competition aspect hurting the self-defense side of things has been a heated debate.
Again my instructor Tony said this about competition, “We do not train Jiu-Jitsu to get better at competition. We compete to get better at Jiu-Jitsu”. Unless you are a top pro in BJJ or shooting, I think this is absolutely true. Without competition you don’t know how you will react under stress. You do not know if you will remember your training or go blank. You need to put yourself in situations that induce high levels of stress with an uncooperative opponent/target to reduce the novelty of violence.
Some argue that it creates training scars. As if competing will make you jump guard in a street fight or move from cover while doing a reload. If you cannot separate competition from real life then you are a moron and are probably going meet your demise anyway. Likewise, if you think you do not need to induce stress as part of your training because “you ain’t no gamer”, then you are equally a moron. I wrote a paper in college arguing that the genesis of sport was to keep warriors sharp in times of peace. I still believe that to be true. So if you are not somehow competing in a time of peace, then you will not be ready in a time of war. For the civilian, war could equal any threat that endangers you or your loved ones.
Now do you need to sign up for an IBJJF Open or the next USPSA Regionals? Not at all, unless that is what you want to do. Competition could be practicing with a timer or going to a local club match or perfectly completing a qualification standard to a higher level than you did the last time. For some guys in BJJ, rolling in class is their competition, for others it is the World Championships. I have trained with both types of guys and have learned from both. It is ultimately your choice but inducing stress must be a goal otherwise you are fooling yourself.
So as I find myself looking forward to entering my seventh year of training BJJ (I am a 3 stripe Purple belt. A Black Belt in BJJ can take 6-10 years) and plan on taking several firearms courses and competing this year in the Carry Optics division of USPSA, I am extremely excited by what I will learn from each discipline that will carry over to the other. I will do my best to remember that Jiu-Jitsu means “The Gentle Art”. Not because it is weak or pacifistic in nature, but rather that proper technique and application of leverage is more important than strength and speed. This wholly applies to firearms training as well. Furthering strengthening my belief in a phrase that I coined myself….
“Everything is Jiu-Jitsu”
Be Good. Stay Safe. Get Training.
Scott “Jedi” Jedlinski