japanese jiu jitsu

Comparing Japanese Jiu Jitsu with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu


Japanese Jiu Jitsu, also known as traditional Jiu Jitsu, has its origins in ancient Japan. It was developed as a system of self-defense techniques by the samurai warriors during the feudal period. Japanese Jiu Jitsu focused on using leverage and technique to overcome an opponent’s size and strength.

On the other hand, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) is a modern variant of Jiu Jitsu that was derived from the traditional Japanese style. In the early 20th century, Japanese Jiu Jitsu was introduced to Brazil by Mitsuyo Maeda, a Jiu Jitsu master. Maeda’s teachings greatly influenced a young Brazilian named Carlos Gracie, who later developed Brazilian Jiu Jitsu along with his brothers.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu diverged from its Japanese roots by emphasizing ground fighting and grappling techniques. This was done to address the potential disadvantage of facing larger and stronger opponents. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu became renowned for its effectiveness in mixed martial arts competitions and self-defense situations. Notable figures in the development of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu include Carlos Gracie, Helio Gracie, Royce Gracie, and later practitioners such as Rickson Gracie and Marcelo Garcia. These individuals played crucial roles in popularizing and refining the techniques and strategies of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, ensuring its continued growth and global recognition.

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Historical Context

Japanese Jiu Jitsu, also known as “jujutsu” or “jiujitsu,” originated in feudal Japan as a samurai art. It was developed as a comprehensive combat system designed for warfare, where samurais needed effective techniques to overcome armored opponents in battle. With roots dating back to the 8th century, Japanese Jiu Jitsu combined various martial arts, including striking, kicking, throwing, joint locks, and chokeholds. During the Tokugawa period (1603-1868), a more organized and structured approach to Japanese Jiu Jitsu emerged. Different schools or “ryu” were established, each with its unique techniques and philosophies. The training focused on developing both physical and mental strength, teaching practitioners to use an opponent’s energy and momentum against them.

On the other hand, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) traces its origins back to Japanese Jiu Jitsu and Judo. In the early 20th century, Mitsuyo Maeda, a judoka and student of Jigoro Kano (the founder of Judo), immigrated to Brazil. He taught Brazilian Carlos Gracie the art of Judo, which encompassed both standing techniques and ground fighting. The Gracie family further adapted these techniques to prioritize ground fighting and submissions, creating what is now known as Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. The Gracie’s focus on leverage and technique allowed smaller individuals to overcome larger opponents, revolutionizing the martial arts world. BJJ gained international recognition through the Gracie family’s success in no-holds-barred fights, particularly through the famous “Gracie Challenge.”

Both Japanese and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu have had significant historical contexts, shaping their unique characteristics and applications in combat. Understanding their respective origins helps martial arts enthusiasts appreciate the evolution and distinctions between these two disciplines.

Philosophical Differences

Japanese Jiu Jitsu and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu have unique philosophical differences that shape their approaches to combat. Japanese Jiu Jitsu encompasses a broader philosophy, emphasizing various elements of combat such as strikes, throws, and weapon defense. Its philosophy takes into account a diverse range of techniques and strategies, with a focus on holistic self-defense.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu places a concentrated emphasis on ground fighting. Its philosophy is centered around the belief that a smaller, weaker individual can successfully defend themselves against a larger, stronger opponent through the application of leverage and proper technique. This approach emphasizes the importance of skill and strategy over raw strength.

While Japanese Jiu Jitsu incorporates a wider range of combat techniques, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu primarily focuses on grappling and ground techniques. This distinction in philosophy reflects the historical development and cultural contexts in which these martial arts originated.

In summary, the philosophical differences between Japanese and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu lie in their areas of emphasis, with the former encompassing a more comprehensive fighting system and the latter concentrating on ground fighting techniques and the concept of using leverage and technique to overcome size and strength advantages.

Technical Comparisons

Japanese Jiujitsu and Brazilian Jiujitsu are two distinct martial arts that, despite sharing a common name, have developed into separate disciplines with unique focuses and techniques. One of the key technical differences between the two lies in their approach to stand-up and ground techniques.

Japanese Jiujitsu places a greater emphasis on stand-up techniques and throws. Derived from ancient samurai combat systems, Japanese Jiujitsu includes a wide range of striking techniques, such as punches, kicks, and knees. Additionally, this martial art incorporates various throws and takedowns, allowing practitioners to control and dominate their opponents in standing positions.

On the contrary, Brazilian Jiujitsu is primarily focused on ground techniques and submissions. Developed from Japanese Jiujitsu by the Gracie family in Brazil, this martial art emphasizes the importance of ground fighting and using leverage to overcome larger and stronger opponents. Brazilian Jiujitsu practitioners specialize in techniques such as sweeps, submissions, joint locks, and chokes, enabling them to neutralize and control their opponents on the ground.

Another notable difference lies in the inclusion of striking and weapons training. In Japanese Jiujitsu, striking techniques, such as punches and kicks, are taught alongside grappling skills. Furthermore, practitioners of Japanese Jiujitsu also train in the use of traditional weapons, such as swords and staffs. In contrast, Brazilian Jiujitsu focuses solely on grappling techniques and non-striking approaches, excluding the use of weapons from its training curriculum.

While Japanese Jiujitsu emphasizes a combination of standing techniques, throws, and striking and weapons training, Brazilian Jiujitsu is centered around ground techniques and submissions, without the inclusion of striking or weapons training. Understanding these technical differences allows individuals to appreciate the distinct characteristics and historical backgrounds of each martial art.

Training and Sparring

In terms of training and sparring, Japanese Jiu Jitsu and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu take different approaches. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) places a significant emphasis on live drilling and sparring, commonly referred to as “rolling.” BJJ practitioners spend a considerable amount of time engaging in live training, allowing them to refine their techniques while also developing their timing, reflexes, and overall grappling skills.

On the other hand, traditional Japanese Jiu Jitsu (JJJ) focuses more on technical training through pre-arranged drills and controlled sparring. In JJJ dojos, techniques are practiced repetitively, with an emphasis on precise execution rather than intense live sparring. This method allows students to learn and understand various techniques in a controlled environment before gradually applying them with more resistance.

The difference in training approaches can be attributed to the historical development and philosophies of these martial arts. BJJ evolved from JJJ but was further refined and adapted for modern combat, particularly in the context of no-holds-barred competitions. Thus, the emphasis on live sparring and a realistic training environment became paramount in BJJ dojos. Both training methods have their merits and suit different goals. BJJ’s focus on live sparring helps practitioners develop practical self-defense skills, adaptability, and a strong competitive mindset. JJJ’s emphasis on precise technique fosters a deep understanding of martial arts principles, discipline, and respect for tradition.

Overall, the contrasting approaches to training and sparring in Japanese Jiu Jitsu and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu reflect the evolution and specific goals of each discipline, catering to the different needs and preferences of practitioners.

Application in Self-defense and Competition


Japanese Jiu Jitsu, the traditional martial art from which Brazilian Jiu Jitsu originated, places a strong emphasis on self-defense scenarios. Its techniques involve various strikes, throws, joint locks, and immobilizations to neutralize attackers efficiently. With its focus on a variety of techniques, Japanese Jiu Jitsu prepares practitioners for real-life self-defense situations that may involve multiple attackers or armed opponents.

On the other hand, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu primarily emphasizes ground fighting and submissions. Rather than relying on strikes or throws, it focuses on using leverage and technique to control and submit opponents, particularly in close quarters. While Brazilian Jiu Jitsu does include some stand-up techniques, its main goal is to take an opponent to the ground, where it excels in grappling and submission holds.

Competition Scene:

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has created a thriving competitive scene globally, setting it apart from its predecessor, traditional Japanese Jiu Jitsu. With the introduction of mixed martial arts (MMA) tournaments, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu gained prominence as an effective martial art for one-on-one combat. Its emphasis on ground fighting and submissions led to the development of various competitive formats, such as Brazilian Jiu Jitsu tournaments and submission grappling events.

In contrast, traditional Japanese Jiu Jitsu rarely focuses on competitive aspects. Its primary purpose is self-defense and the attainment of discipline, with techniques taught to be used responsibly and solely for protection. While some schools may hold internal competitions or demonstrations, the competitive scene surrounding Japanese Jiu Jitsu remains significantly smaller compared to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

Overall, while both Japanese and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu share similarities in terms of techniques and principles, their applications in self-defense and the competitive scene differ significantly. Japanese Jiu Jitsu prioritizes self-defense scenarios, whereas Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has created a global competitive scene with a specific focus on ground fighting and submissions.

Cultural Impact

Both Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) and Japanese Jiu Jitsu (JJJ) have had significant cultural impacts, particularly in the realm of martial arts. BJJ, developed by the Gracie family in Brazil, holds a prominent place in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). Its influence is undeniable, as BJJ techniques, such as ground fighting and submission holds, have become integral aspects of MMA competition. The success of Brazilian fighters in UFC and other MMA promotions has further cemented BJJ’s influence in this highly popular sport. In contrast, JJJ, originating in Japan, has a rich historical background and has influenced various martial arts globally. Although not as prominent in contemporary MMA, JJJ played a crucial role in developing modern martial arts like Judo and Aikido. The principles of balance, leverage, and joint manipulation found in JJJ have been incorporated into these arts, which have gained international recognition and following.

Both BJJ and JJJ have left their imprint on popular culture. BJJ, due to its association with the Gracie family, has become widely known through the spread of the UFC and other MMA promotions. On the other hand, JJJ’s historical significance and its incorporation into other martial arts have given it a respected place within the global martial arts community.

While BJJ has had a more direct impact on MMA and popular culture, JJJ’s historical influence and integration into other martial arts have allowed it to maintain its relevance and cultural impact on a broader scale.

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While Japanese Jiu Jitsu and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu share a lineage and mutual respect, they have evolved into distinct martial arts with different focuses and approaches. Japanese Jiu Jitsu places emphasis on a wider range of techniques, including strikes, throws, and joint locks, while Brazilian Jiu Jitsu emphasizes ground fighting, submissions, and positional dominance.

Despite their differences, both arts offer valuable self-defense skills, physical fitness, and mental discipline. Exploring both arts can provide a deeper appreciation for the intricacies and unique aspects of each discipline. Japanese Jiu Jitsu’s historical background and influence on other martial arts cannot be overlooked, while Brazilian Jiu Jitsu’s emphasis on ground techniques has gained popularity in modern combat sports. By understanding the key differences and acknowledging their shared lineage, practitioners and enthusiasts of martial arts can engage in respectful and comprehensive discussions around the unique characteristics of Japanese and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.