In An Apocalypse, Does Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Work Against Zombies?

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a supremely effective martial art based around grappling a resisting opponent in order to control them and to force them to submit.


Know your enemy - How will a zombie attack you?


In a zombie apocalypse your weapon of choice may be attaching two chainsaws on either side of a pole-arm, but today we consider the inevitable eventuality of unarmed combat against the undead.


Don't want to grapple, how about Muay Thai?


Why Would I Volunteer To Grapple With A Zombie?

In the world of the living, BJJ has been proven as one of, if not THE most effective martial arts on the planet. It is undeniable that BJJ is lethal against the living who want to subdue or kill you, but what about the nuances of going toe-to-toe with those that just want to eat your flesh? 

 Zombie Judo

Let’s take a few things into consideration. Apart from the additional (and only?) attack the a zombie has with it's mouth, the main attributes that benefit a zombie in grappling are:


  • Unlimited cardio. You will need to disable the zombie in the most efficient manner. It doesn't matter how fit, how hard you've trained, how creative or intelligent you are - a zombie has unlimited stamina and will eventually out work you.


  • Invulnerability to pain. Even if they do feel pain, it's observed that they will ignore all pain signals. They end result is the same as feeling no pain. Techniques should be applied to immediately cause maximum damage.


  • Extra-human strength. A symptom of feeling no pain, a zombie can make what remains of their muscles work to the point of literally tearing themselves apart, bite until their teeth break, tear until their nails come off.


Although you may be mistaken to believe that many BJJ techniques would therefore be useless, the ability to restrict movement of a zombie, escape from dominant positions or indeed the ability to disable them enough to get away can't be ignored.



Fighting a Zombie on the ground

BJJ puts a large amount of emphasis on the adaptability of the art for the given situation in which it is required. In practise, this sees different approaches for self-defence, competition BJJ and BJJ for mixed martial arts.

A school teaching combat against the undead would need to optimise for causing massive damage in the shortest time possible and constant drill sweep and technical stand-up.


Is Muay Thai the best striking martial art to use in the zombie apocalypse?



An effective choke will very quickly render a living opponent unconscious by depriving the brain of oxygen. There are two forms, an air choke where the airwaves are restricted or a blood choke, where the blood supply to the brain is interrupted. 

So you want me to choke out something that doesn't need oxygen to survive? Sort of... Keeping the zombie's teeth away from you is the highest priority. Chokes which involve a fore-arm against the neck are the most useful in this aspect. And if you can somehow have the teeth facing away from you even better...

Zombie vs Armbar

The Rear Naked Choke is one of the best recognised moves in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. This technique sees the practitioner apply a hold from the back of their opponent, wrapping their legs around their waist and their arm across their neck and locked to the other arm behind their head.

Although choking a zombie will not actually kill it. It does give you a superior amount of control over them and should allow an accomplice to carefully finish the job. 



BJJ Sweep against dominant Zombie

Sweeps are used to reverse positions where an opponent has a dominant position. For example, a zombie has managed to drag, trip or tackle you to the ground and is now scrambling to pass your legs and devour your lovely brains. Using a sweep will quickly allow you to switch this up and gain a superior position to either strike back or escape quickly.

Defense against a Zombie


Arm Bar.

BJJ against Zombie

Another popular weapon in the BJJ arsenal is the arm bar. This can be applied in a number of ways and sees a huge amount of pressure being applied to the elbow or shoulder. Of course the severe agony will have no effect on your dead attacker, however the ability to push this technique so far as to snap the joint will disable one of the attacker's main tools that it can use to grab and tangle you.

Choking a zombie


Ankle / Leg Lock.

Similar to arm bars, ankle and leg locks will allow you to physically snap the joints of your attacker or rip and tear the connective tissue. While this won't stop a zombie, using this type of lock below the belt should let you slow down your rotting friend giving you enough time to casually stroll over to the closest object big enough to cave their head in.

Zombie vs Foot Lock Ankle Lock


The Real Threat.

It's well known in the zombiverse whether it be Dead Rising or The Walking Dead, there is one clear message - the undead are not even a fraction of the threat of your fellow humans. With a mix of power hungry psychopaths and those that simply cannot cope with the new frightening reality, it is important to keep an eye on those around you. BJJ is an efficient discipline which allows you to control your assailant and over striking forms, offers the ability to apply as much force as necessary to subdue or destroy them.


Undead BJJ

In conclusion we can see that Brazilian Jiu Jitsu certainly has it's merits in the fight against the zombie scourge. However, it is also important that each technique used is adapted to to take into account how bitey and contagious your undead sparring partner will be. 

So tell us what you think, how do you think you'd fare against the undead?

Zombie Horde BJJ



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Lester Lee

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