I’ll be honest: this is the most fun I’ve ever had researching and writing an article. It also resulted in the most bruises, bangs, dings, dents, and boo-boos. And I loved every second of it.
Today I’m reviewing Defensive Applications of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu by PDN. This is about the role of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in a self-defense context, and the focus is on the practical application of basic techniques to a real world encounter. The presenter is Cecil Burch, a talented martial artist with a great depth of training and a gift for teaching. His approach is practical, versatile, and firmly grounded in reality. And you’re going to want to jump in and practice what he preaches, right away.
However, it’s a tribute to Burch’s wisdom as an instructor that he doesn’t jump directly to the physical side of things. Rather, the DVD opens with an exploration of the fundamental concepts behind the applications and approaches taught. This, to my mind, is the most valuable part of the presentation. Mindset and the conceptual side of self-defense often get overlooked in favor of the perhaps more fun hands-on side of things. Burch avoids that trap.
He refers to it as a “road map”, but I think of his approach is akin to the chord structure of a jazz standard. What he’s giving you is the guideline as a basis for improvisation in the moment. This is the “art” side of martial arts, and again I think it’s overlooked.
Burch starts with the “hierarchy of intent”, a list of priorities for a self-defense ground fighting scenario. This is a great conceptual foundation, and one that I think has applications beyond Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu when it comes to dealing with violence. In summation, it’s a way of organizing your response and answer the question “what am I trying to do?”
- Survive: How do you stay in the fight?
- Defend: Keep an attack from happening, or the situation from getting worse.
- Escape: Move from a bad situation to an equal one.
- Reverse: Attain the advantage. May combine with Escape.
- Stabilize: Solidify your advantage with a solid response.
- Maintain: Hold on to your stable position.
- Finish: Resolve the situation. This may involve a submission hold, accessing a weapon, or good old fashioned retreat.
Again, Burch approaches this from a ground fighting perspective, and this is the framework he follows when he begins presenting techniques. He provides an additional frame—he puts it as a formula—for an escape from a bad ground fighting position. For those interested in self-defense, this is a useful distillation of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu into a form that will fit with your other hand-to-hand or tactical training .
The techniques are well presented, real-world ready, and insanely fun to practice. I suggest doing this with a friend, though there are solo exercises presented. The only warning I will offer is that Burch is the expert’s expert, and like all masters he makes it look so easy. While in reality this material is easy to learn and fun to practice, you’ll find that it does take work.
But that applies to all self-defense training—and, indeed, anything else worth learning. Burch says he’s here to teach you to fish, not give you a fish. I suggest taking him up on it.