Three Questions About Submission Grappling

  1. If you knew someone was trying to kill you in a fight, at what point would you give in, and allow them to succeed?
  2. If you wanted a competitor to submit to your authority, would killing them instead demonstrate a failure or a success?
  3. Do you believe that submission grappling and self-defense are basically the same thing?


  1. 1) I would allow them to succeed, when it coincided with my intent. Can’t think of a matching scenario, other than knowing 100% that my life would mean the safety and security of my family.

    2) Submission, to me, implies a choice. Once you are dead you can no longer make choices, so if you are going for submission to your authority, death is absolutely failure.

    3) I wish I could remember where I got this story from, but I think it lays out the reality of self-defense. You are walking down a sidewalk and you notice two individuals up ahead that seem to be scoping things out. You continue on, get jumped, completely destroy the two (in this case, we’ll say through submission grappling two armed opponents simultaneously, because you are amazing like that), and are able to continue on your way relatively unscathed. Revisit the same scenario, except this time when you notice the two individuals scoping things out, you take a different path, don’t get jumped, don’t use your grappling skills, and again continue on your way unscathed. Which was self-defense? I’d argue for the second outcome, which anyone who pays attention could possibly perform. Proactively defending yourself, before the necessity of combat. Long way to say “no submission grappling is not the same thing as self-defense.”

  2. 1. At no point could you ever let them succeed. Life is too precious. I would keep fighting until they were incapacitated or I am dead. I would differ from Jacob above in that you cannot guarantee what will happen after you’re gone, so even then, would not give up. The only situation I could see giving up is this. You are a general in Nazi Germany under Hitler. The allies are trying to kill you and your army. You know that your cause is wrong, and that if you give up, the war will be over. You know you will die in the process but the world will be a better place for it. In this case, you might throw down your life.
    2. Making a competitor submit to your authority serves no purpose other than feeding your ego, and killing them is a failure on many levels–failure to grasp how precious life is, and failure to understand what is morally right vs. wrong. From a more selfish viewpoint, how could you live the rest of your life knowing you ended a life when you had the choice not to?
    3. Believe that Jacob is essentially correct here in that self defense is anything that will get you away unscathed, using combat skills or not. Submission grappling might get someone to give up if they were in enough pain, but how can you ensure they will give up once you let go? If it’s an amped-up crack head, you might have to break an arm or dislocate a joint so they will at least be at somewhat of a disadvantage when they get up. Also believe if you are outnumbered and the fight goes to the ground, there is no such thing as tapping out. You have to break something or choke someone out so you are fighting one less person. That is the reality of self defense.
    Wow, Chris, I am not supposed to be thinking this much at 11 pm at night. Highly thought-provoking post. I think it highly relates to the realities of war.

  3. I think something that is being forgotten or at least overlooked here is that almost all submissions in jiu jitsu or any submission grappling are chokes and breaks. Either you’re going to choke the person unconscious or dead and escape, or you’re going to break something and make it easier to escape or kill that person.

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