Grappling is a generic term for a hand-to-hand fighting system comprised of Judo and Jiu-Jitsu moves for self-defense as well as formal competition. Judo was simplified and developed from the ancient mother art of Jiu-Jitsu in the late nineteenth century by Dr. Jigoro Kano in Japan. Although contemporary Judo focuses more on devastating throwing techniques and Jiu-Jitsu on painful submission holds, careful review of their respective principles reveals their similarities. Although Jiu-Jitsu was originally developed in Japan, for nearly a century it has been kept alive and refined in Brazil, shaping it into the incredibly effective and popular art that it is today. But to fully comprehend grappling for self-defense, one should study both.

Judo has been an Olympic event since 1964 as well as the official Martial Art of the Tokyo Police Department for eighty years. (You must be a Black Belt to even apply) The word Judo is actually two words. Ju, meaning softness or gentleness, and Do, meaning The Way. A suitable translation is, The Way of Softness or Gentleness. This term should not be confused with weak or limp, but rather yielding to an attacker’s energy to control his force and then utilizing leverage against him. This is the most sophisticated level of combat and although it takes sincere practice to refine, makes the most sense.


Glen Heggstad, a former bodyguard and bar bouncer with several decades of street combat experience, as well as seventy traditional competition victories, sought to create a practical self defense program by re-combining Judo with the original fighting art form of Jiu-Jitsu. To widen the effectiveness he added western wrestling with the kicks of Muy Thai and strikes of Western Boxing. We have coined this regimen Street Grappling. And it’s been developed with the purpose of preparing students for the realities of actual confrontations as well as traditional competitions. Our main emphasis is on self-defense and the basics of body mechanics for maximum power with minimal effort.


The techniques involve striking and throwing an opponent to the mat. From there chokes and joint locks are used to force opponents into submission, or inducing unconsciousness. Students are first taught how to fall using the gymnastic movements of back falls, cartwheels and shoulder rolls. Once learning the identical principles of falling and throwing, the next step is to toss a partner over your shoulder onto a specially designed super-cushion.

Most traditional techniques require grasping an opponent’s uniform for control. Heggstad’s teachings however, place equal emphasis on manipulating the limbs and head without relying on opponents wearing anything strong enough to grab. He prefers to anticipate worst-case scenarios, and believe that this is a more valuable concept for actual street combat.


Workouts and general skill development are divided into three categories, striking, throwing and ground techniques. Classes begin with strong warm ups and Yoga style stretching followed by grappling drills and technique practice with a partner.

All classes are private or semi-private only but new students are welcome and encouraged to advance at a comfortable pace. Although you don’t need to be in shape to begin training, in a short period of time, you’ll be in the best physical condition of your life. Emphasis is on technique and flexibility rather than strength and weight. Remember, it’s the smart fighter who triumphs in combat.


As your training progresses, you’ll learn the scientific aspects of fighting and how they relate to general movement. In a physical sense, hips and legs are the platform and primary mechanisms of efficient motion, but your mind releases the energy necessary to explode into victory. Top athletes in Boxing, Judo, Tennis, Golf, Karate, Baseball or any sport, all realize that to maximize potential it’s necessary to use the body and mind in unison.

Power and technique don’t come from over-sized, tensed muscles, but rather relaxed flexible bodies and calm minds. Real strength is gentleness. This is not to say muscle is ineffective, but rather when muscle competes against technique, technique prevails. Depending on the student’s rate of comprehension, long hours will be spent traveling toward this realization.


Grappling is the ideal form of self-defense because it works off a natural human reaction to grab when attacked. Even highly skilled boxers trained to punch, when they get into trouble, reach out and grab for their opponent, going into a clinch, and must be physically separated by a referee. In grappling, students are simply taught exactly where to grab for the best leverage to control an attacker.

Grappling skills are even more effective for women. When attacked, they are grabbed and held, as opposed to boxing before being raped or mugged. Physical size is not as significant as one might think and it’s amazing how effective using an opponent’s force against them can be. If a female student, who practiced grappling regularly, was grabbed against her will, it’s likely she would be able to force her attacker into submission with at least a broken arm.

We believe that combined with skills developed under the stressful conditions of sparring, the element of surprise and a learned ability to stay calm, a female victim could definitely turn the tables. Perseverance and practice make the difference. How many assault victims have uttered those remorseful words, “If only I had the ability to fight back.” Well, here it is.

Experienced fighters know that street conflicts generally end in a clinch or on the ground where punching and kicking are of little use. It’s been consistently proven in the televised, “No Holds Barred” bouts of Mixed Martial Arts, that when confrontations are one-on-one, with no rules, grapplers prevail. Although our emphasis is on grappling skills, we also believe that in dealing with multiple opponent situations, punches, knees and elbows are more effective and include Muy Thai Boxing strikes. Our hybrid system is an ideal fighting art for law enforcement, security personnel or anyone else concerned with being grabbed in an attack.


For actual street situations, we believe that our hybrid system of grappling and striking is the most powerful form of self-defense. Many black belts in Karate and trained boxers take up Jiu-Jitsu and many Black Belts in Jiu-Jitsu go into studies of boxing and Karate.

We don’t recommend that you train exclusively in one martial art for your entire life, but rather learn one as a base to develop from. To maintain essential skills, cardio and flexibility, we believe that your base art should be a hybrid system. Because of Jiu-Jitsu’s low impact and great effectiveness, it is possible to train in ground fighting well into advanced ages.

The key to victory is training hard with reality and combat in mind. To remain healthy we must participate in some form of exercise our entire lives so it might as well be something that could save our life or someone else’s. Think about being able to protect loved ones. Jogging and aerobics are great, but when being mugged in a dark alley would you rather hop around doing jumping-jacks or throw your attacker to the ground with a broken arm?


As in all martial arts, the spiritual aspects need to be recognized. Although countless hours of exhausting practice temper the spirit and teach self-control, a clearer study is recommended. Humility doesn’t have to be drilled in with regimented hierarchies, but rather experienced by being defeated by someone half your size or twice your age.

The place where we train is considered sacred and we ask that you pay respect by bowing when entering and leaving the dojo  Respect, although an alien notion in modern society, is a fundamental in martial art. Instructors have shed tremendous amounts of sweat and blood to attain their positions, please call them Sensei or Coach, but never “Hey dude.”

Abiding by the honor and dignity that has bound our arts for two thousand years are concepts that may be lacking in western culture, but while training with us you’ll soon learn to appreciate them. The basic values of Martial Spirit should accompany us throughout our lives, not just in the Dojo. Parents, spouses and employers eventually come to marvel at many of the transformations they witness that reach beyond increased fighting abilities in our students. This is a way of life worth sacrificing for and believing in.


Whether you understand it or not, cultivation of the subconscious mind is a constant in martial art and we highly respect and encourage all studies in this field. Formal exercises of meditation are introduced to students when ready. We feel this is the most effective tool for combat, business or social relations—the ultimate conclusion of martial arts study is spiritual discovery. As Karl Jung writes, “Those who look outward, dream… those who look inward, awake.”


Although Glen only teaches privately anymore, for students who want to compete, he highly recommends also training at the main dojo he founded in 1987– Coachella Valley Judo Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. There, students can prepare for tournaments which are the closest and safest events next to an all out street fight to instill the reactions necessary for defense in actual attacks.


True martial art is more than a quick course of secret tricks to learn for a lifetime of security. In order to learn effective self-defense, you must put the time in to train. If your future opponents are invisible people in hypothetical fights, then you can get away with Kata practice, faces in the mirror and pooh-pooh workouts. We profess to “train like your life depends on it,” because one day, it might.

Grappling is tough–in fact, it may well be one of the most difficult endeavors of your life. But real attackers respond to real technique and counter-assault developed through practice. Remember, the only thing that counts is what you can do in chaos. Battles are won in the preparation, so stop talking about “someday getting involved”—stick your chest out, and begin your career today!

Copyright 2015 Glen HeggstadVikingo logo copy

Glen Heggstad’s adventure travel website

Coachella Valley Judo Brazilian Jiu Jitsu