Garry Tonon: Sport jiu-jitsu players will often “melt” if they end up in a bad position

According to renowned grappler Gary Tonon, there is an important distinction between training jiu-jitsu for sport competition versus training for real-world self-defense scenarios.

In sport jiu-jitsu, players will often “melt” if they end up in a bad position during a match according to Tonon. For example, if mounted or taken to the back, many sport players will simply tap out or give up rather than try to escape and survive the position. Tonon discussed this in a recent podcast appearance.

“I and I’m not like a huge proponent of a huge self defense, jujitsu, sport jujitsu. That’s not really what I’m talking about.”

“But stylistically, what I’m talking about is, like, you’ll have a guy that, like, you know, competes at a high level. And chances are if he was in a self defense situation, he’d be fine. You know? But, it’s like, they get mounted or they get to their back taken. And this is what we saw when we started to see EBI or, you know, getting an arm lock situation.”

“And like you said, you know, the game melts. Because they’re never there. They never practice it. And it’s like, hey, man. Didn’t we get involved in this to be able to defend ourselves in the first place?”

However, in a self-defense situation you likely won’t have the luxury of just tapping and resetting. The ability to escape and survive bad positions is critical. Tonon advises that even for sport players, it’s important to work on defending from poor positions that mimic real self-defense situations.

Additionally, the start of a self-defense encounter may begin from the bottom position rather than both players starting from a mutual grip fighting position as is common in sport matches. As Tonon states, “In self-defense you may start on bottom and need to escape.”

By training to escape mounts, back takes, and other compromised positions, Tonon believes practitioners will have a more well-rounded grappling game applicable to sport matches and real-life altercations alike. Simply tapping out whenever caught by a submission isn’t enough. The practice of surviving and escaping bad positions makes for a superior jiu-jitsu skill set.