I used to do Waboku ryu jujitsu. Before shodan the art is pretty focused on self-defense. It works out pretty well too. You learn some basic striking, a good number of joint locks, ground fighting, and throws. I’d recommend it to someone who wants to do martial arts for self-defense. I wouldn’t really recommend it to someone who wants to compete.
I’ve found myself in a lot of arguments with guys who do karate and stuff like karate (TMA). Self-defense isn’t a practical goal in my opinion. We keep seeing guys who have these out there claims. There’s one who claims to have 50 amateur MMA bouts, most of which he won with karate. I’m not saying it’s not true. I’m saying I want to see some videos.
I’ve been grappling since 2007. I started with Waboku ryu jujitsu. In July 2008 I started BJJ because my guard was getting destroyed on ground nights. In August 2009 I started judo when the club started up in Madison. I have never had true formal training in wrestling. My claims are straight forward: I’ve done about 50 grappling matches since my first one in 2008. My win ratio is somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2. There aren’t videos of all of them, but I can tell you the tournaments and who to contact for a roster of my matches. There are videos of enough that you can watch me lose and you can even watch me win a few. I’ve been grappling for what I consider to be “awhile”. It took me from 07/08 to 01/12 to get my blue belt in BJJ. In that time I was actively doing judo and learning wrestling from some training partners. After two years and seven months of judo I’m still a green belt (yonkyu) in judo. Average time in to brown (sankyu) is 22 months. I’m one month away from being average time to nikkyu (that’s two below black belt), and to be honest, I skipped a couple ranks due to prior jujitsu experience. I’m not claiming to be that good.
Verifiable claims are always stronger than “I got attacked by three guys in the alley and I totally kicked all their butts.” Self-defense isn’t something you can prove for your art, efficacy against other people who fight is. It is my opinion that if you can trade punches with boxers, throw with judoka, roll with jiujitseros, and know enough to diffuse a bad situation, you’re going to be fine without eye-gouges, dick-kicks, or mystical ancient wisdom.