Rickson Gracie and the
Distinguished Art of Thai Tae Tad
By Roberto Pedreira
Rickson Gracie believes in self-defense. Jiu-jitsu should be about self-defense, he
insists. Guys who want to devote their careers to 50-50s,
worm guards, and berimbolos are welcome to do that, he says, but
if the self-defense needs of ordinary non-super-athletes are not
addressed, jiu-jitsu will "drown". And it is drowning, he
thinks. (Rickson's opinion's about why Jiu-jitsu is gonna drown here).
chokes work very well, if you can get behind an aggressor without
getting damaged. Obviously, people who have done their training against
punchers and kickers will be able to do this with a reasonably high
success rate. However, based on Roberto's experience, not many BJJ
people actually do this sort of training, or not enough of it. So their
lethal rear naked will not avail them of much more than the TKD
stylist's deadly ax kick.
Train your rear
nakeds, by all means, but know that you need more. For beginners, the
ordinary people with self-defense needs that Rickson is worried about,
even rear nakeds or any other jiu-jitsu techniques, are not enough and
may not even be needed. Rear nakeds are not the answer to
every problem and are not without limitations.
Rickson Gracie demonstrating jiu-jitsu self-defense technique
against street assailant (portrayed by BJJ practitioner Beau
Hershberger). Rickson and Beau are demonstrating the technique
as it would be applied on a beach in Rio or Malibu (except for
Beau's karate pants).
At one time people learned boxing for self-defense, not just to watch on
youtube. Even Rickson Gracie took boxing lessons (interview with his
boxing teacher here). Carlson Gracie (the man who
invented BJJ as we know it today) too was a fan of boxing. He believed
boxing was actually part of jiu-jitsu (documented in Choque
3). Helio Gracie believed that boxing was a strong fight, second
only to jiu-jitsu (see # 48, here).
awesome. Probably Rickson doesn't teaching boxing because he has more
personal faith in jiu-jitsu (and is unqualified to teach boxing, relative to
jiu-jitsu and compared to most boxing people).
though. Boxing fundamentals are about the same as jiu-jitsu
fundamentals, or at least, there are a lot of overlapping skills in
terms of posture, movement, balance, leverage, sensitivity, sense of distance, and others
needed for effective and efficient self-defense.
We don't need
to master an entire art to profit from it. A single tool can solve many
problems if it is used skillfully.
As Rorion might
have said, back up your BJJ with Thai Tae Tad.
There is a
technique that is even more efficient than a rear naked (when we
consider the problem of getting position to be part of the technique).
It also has a number of important advantages over boxing in many
scenarios. That technique is taught in the awesome and distinguished art of Muay
Thai. It is the Tae Tad (and the very similar Tae Pub Nok), otherwise
known as the Thai leg kick. The technique is easy to learn, assuming a
legitimate teacher, preferably Thai, and preferably in Thailand. Once
learned, you will never forget. It is super high-percentage. There are
only two ways to defend. One is to stay away, which basically stops the
attack. The other is to "shield block". This is also easy to
learn but requires a while to "dial it in". The only people
who can apply this defense are people who have trained Muay Thai.
Ninety-nine point nine percent of other people, including attackers,
will soon be on the ground rather than attacking you.
force is a product of weight times speed, we assume an average size
individual. Since most people are average, this is a good technique for
the point, consider the following. A 300 lb former world heavyweight
boxing champion fights a more ordinary size, beginning level fighter
(nine fights). The former champion is out of shape (300 lb after all),
nevertheless boxers do not suddenly forget how to throw a hard
punch when they lose their title, and with 300 lb behind it, it would
Riddick was not
a great champion but he was far from the worst either. (See here
for examples of better and worse boxing champions.)
For his own
reasons, Riddick Bowe decided to get into a ring in Pattaya, Thailand
June 14, 2013 with a Russian Muay Thai fighter named Levgen Golovin.
Levgen was not
small but he was considerably outweighed. He was also
"in-shape". Riddick had trained in a local Muay Thai gym and
was not completely ignorant about what to expect. He knew how to lift
his leg to block low kicks.
were Levgen. Or, suppose you are you. What are you going to do in the
ring with "Big Daddy"?
swing, left jab)
The fight can
be seen here.
Golovin's kicks were right kicks to Riddick's left (forward leg).
Several cut through to Riddick's right supporting leg when he was
leaning on the ropes and raising his left leg to avoid getting kicked.
Golovin's kicks were blocked or avoided. Five put Riddick on the canvas.
The other 13 caused him to break posture (disrupting both his offense
and defense and in a few cases Riddick avoided dropping only by leaning
against the ropes or holding the top rope with his right hand.
six kicks in the first round (one of which dropped Riddick), and the
other 11 in the second round (4 dropped Riddick, including the last
self-defense technique, Tae Tad/Tae Pub Nok is as good as they
is a little more to it than simply throwing the kick with mean
intentions. Protecting the face while you kick is part of the technique,
properly speaking. If you do what Demian Maia did against Nathan
Marquardt, you stand a good chance of ending up on your ass. But then
Nathan was a pro and prepared for this eventuality. On the street a
typical aggressor is a "target rich environment."
this kick include (1) it hurts. It took Golovin exactly three kicks to
put Big Daddy on the floor. (2) It is low risk--cover your face and
kick. (3) It is high percentage--if the attacker doesn't back off he's
going to get kicked. And it's going to hurt. If you lifts his leg but
doesn't have the proper conditioning, he's going to drop anyway. (4) If
he reaches down after the first kick lands (as Big Daddy did, and most
people will do) you can put your fist in his face (or in more advanced
scenarios, kick to the back of his neck). (5) When he falls he will
either crumble or roll, not smashing his skull on concrete and possibly
dying and bringing legal complications. (6) You are highly
unlikely to sustain any noticeable self-injury, which is not the case if
you apply close fist punches.
include none. Shin conditioning comes with training and takes a few
months or weeks to be able to withstand serious shin-on-shin contact.
For street purposes you don't need this right away, because no one is
going to be shin blocking with conditioned shins.
You don't have
to become a Nak Muay (Thai boxer) to add this awesome technique to your
But if you
choose to dive deeper into the distinguished art, know that Muay Thai
has devastating grappling and knee techniques.
No 50-50s, worm
guard, or berimbolos though.
GTR articles about Muay Thai in
(c) 2018, Roberto
Pedreira. All rights reserved.