Some people who sign up to learn Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu want to get in shape or learn a new skill. Some people, however, want to learn how to defend themselves in a real-life conflict. So, the question that gets asked is often, “Is Jiu-Jitsu practical for self-defense?”

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) can be great for self-defense. The reason that people argue against that is they see BJJ as a sport. Of course, what you learn on a mat with an unarmed, non-hostile opponent is going to differ from what you’d experience in a street fight. However, you’re still better off knowing how to defend yourself than being completely unprepared.

Here are some reasons why Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is practical for self-defense:

Size doesn’t matter

You don’t rely on brute strength in BJJ, but rather on leverage. That’s why it’s especially helpful for women to learn BJJ. It can equip them to fight off a stronger, larger attacker. Many other forms of self-defense require you to overpower your assailant. In BJJ, you learn how to outsmart and outmaneuver your opponent. Size becomes irrelevant. So, learning Jiu-Jitsu can be very useful if you’re attacked by someone bigger than you.

You’ll have the advantage if the fight ends up on the ground

Many fights end up on the ground. If this happens to you, you’ll wish you had some Jiu-Jitsu training. Attackers will likely rely on overpowering their victims and will be caught off guard if you know how to defend yourself from a grounded position. If you’ve studied BJJ, you’ll know how to do armbars, ankle locks, and chokes— all of which can be used if you end up on the ground in a real-life fight.

Muscle memory

One of the best parts of studying martial arts is developing muscle memory. When you practice doing a movement repeatedly, your body becomes accustomed to it and you don’t have to think as much about doing it. That means that when you’re in a fight and you can’t think clearly, you will still know how to defend yourself if you’ve practiced in that situation enough. The goal is not to ask, “What move do I need to do in this situation?” Instead, you want to be well-trained enough to defend yourself without thinking about it. So, practicing BJJ with the goal of developing muscle memory can be extremely helpful in a real-life attack.

All that being said, if you’re attacked by a group or by someone armed, please use your best judgment. Fighting your way out of the situation is not always the best option. Often your best bet is to flee or comply. But if you get into a situation where you need to use your Jiu-Jitsu skills, you’ll be much better off with some training than without.