Rener Gracie: ‘It’s Possible That You Get A Purple Belt Or More And Go Out In A Fight And Get Beat Up’

Rener Gracie is one of the most famous faces of modern Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Along with his brother Ryron, he not only runs Gracie University, but a hosts a famous Youtube series called Gracie Breakdown.

Like many in the jiu-jitsu community, though, Rener worries that modern jiu-jitsu — particularly with its emphasis on training people for competitions — may not be adequately preparing its practitioners for a self-defense, which is what most people practice martial arts for.

“People learning sport are being confused into thinking that they’re getting ready for a fight, but they’re not,” warns Rener. “It’s possible today in the sport, in the Brazilian jiu-jitsu world, that you get a purple belt or more, and go out in a fight and get beat up.”

In particular, Rener warns about the lack of punch defenses:

What is changing is, now that sports jiu-jitsu has become such an emphasis for a lot of people, you have two guys who have no consideration for a street fight, no consideration for punch protection who are grappling each other. And when there’s no punching, there’s millions of things that can happen based on gis, and lapels, and grabs, and twists, and crazy different guards that are not street applicable; they’re very sport.

Speaking as someone who trained under an instructor who recognized the importance of self-defense-based BJJ, I can testify to the truth of Rener’s words. It is amazing how easily all of your A-game can get completely shut down by the addition of punches and kicks. Some day, when you’re at the gym, tell your partner to put on some MMA gloves or boxing gloves and punch you as you try to sweep her from half guard. I guarantee you that, unless your half guard sweeps are as good as those of a high-ranking black belt, you’re going to have one hell of a hard time.

Watch the full video below to hear everything Rener Gracie has to say about sport and self-defense based Brazilian jiu-jitsu.


  1. LOL! I highly believe in Self Defence, but this is a little biased. I have seen Self Defence orientated Purple Belts get there assed kicked in a street fight! I have seen Sports-Based Purple belts win easily in a street fight. I have seen a highly respected self defence orientated player try to play a closed guard in the street while some guys stomped on him. 90% of “Self Defence” BJJ can be un-realistic for the street as well, given the number of attackers, guns/knives, and the environment that the fight takes place in. The concept is highly subjective.

    • Closed guard in street fight? And you say he is self-defense oriented?
      More like misoriented! You don’t pull guard in street fight unless there is no other alternative!
      It’s take down then knee on belly to gauge who else may be coming for you! If many more time to run!

  2. I think this subject is as old as martial arts itself. There is no complete style or singular martial art imo. I believe it’s down to the individual, to open his/her mind and NOT BECOME BLINKERED like a horse. To believe that one martial art is ‘complete’ is the height of arrogance. This mindset should have been eradicated after the early UFC days. Those spectacles were proof enough that one style does not conquer all. Just compare the pinnacle of MMA champions now to those back then. As a wise man once suggested, they have absorbed all that is useful and disregarded the rest.
    I haven’t been training long, but I’ve been training long enough to realise that competition and applied martial arts are two very different scenarios. Remember the slogan ‘as real as it gets?’
    The term ‘Bjj player or Judo player is as cringeworthy as the term ‘streetfighter’ or equally ‘cagefighter’, my point is that I’ve seen enough to know that when it comes down to survival, you can’t afford to ‘play’. You might be king of donkey guard on the mats, but you’re a fool if you ‘play’ when someone is trying to smash a bottle off your head! ? When all is said and done, no one is playing when your life depends on it.

    I’m a big fan of Rener and Gracie University is a wonderful thing, but if you need to pay or subscribe to someone or something to explain the difference between fighting for your life and fighting for a shiny medal or trophy, then you’re already soft in then head.

  3. I agree with @team.fu it’s foolish to believe that in a street fight one style will save your ass, I personally do the gracie combative trainings and it’s true that in a fight mostly if it’s more then one attacker you won’t be using your jiu jitsu the best would be to just avoid, but we do also train boxing and some other martial Arts as part of our training in the gym I go to, but what he says is true and the core of what he is explaining is also true, I mean you won’t be doing a flying arm bar in a street fight, I think that every practitioner of any martial arts should have least some extra classes of some other form of combat and not only for sports reason I do jiu jitsu because I think having a ground game is very important as well as a good striking and kicking, for me anyone who trains jiu jitsu should a least once a week roll but include some punching it’s a real game changer like kitt said. Still for be the best thing would be just try to avoid the situation and if it’s more then one attacker the best would be to run!(jajajaja) unlesss you really need to save your ass, but then I would focus on really doing some critical damage to my opponents using anything I could find. Peace !

  4. From someone who comes from a family of Street Fighters and has been around bars and gangs; street fighting is street fighting. My family used Street martial arts to defend ourselves. Fighting for your life in a self-defense situation is different usually you don’t square off the same way you do in competition it’s more strategic and how you talk and how you walk and surroundings and is usually by surprise or someone tries to sucker punch you, more than one opponent, weapons, different surroundings Etc. I have fought more than one opponent; and you to have the right instinct and mental mentality and be ready and know what you’re doing. I love Gracie Jiu-Jitsu and any other martial art that I can practice that I see as being useful and I believe it’s good to prepare you for understanding the human body and physics but there is a difference between real self defense. I believe that Bruce Lee had it right when he was speaking about the individual was more important than any system are Style and to be in all styles or ways but not be bound by them or of them.


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