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BJJ vs Japanese Jiu Jitsu – Differences and Similarities Explained

BJJ vs Japanese Jiu Jits – what’s the difference?

Have you heard of Brazilian jiu jitsu, also known as BJJ, and Japanese jiu jitsu, also known as JJ, but are unsure of what they are and what the differences there are between them?

This post will hopefully enlighten you when it comes to  BJJ vs Japanese Jiu Jitsu.

Both martials arts were started to be ideal for self defense, but lets breakdown where they differ.

Brazilian jiu jitsu is often considered one of the most effective martial arts for self-defense, as it can be used to subdue larger opponents through the use of leverages and technique.

Japanese jiu jitsu is a more traditional martial art. It includes throws, strikes, and weaponry, and focuses traditional martial arts principles with less focus on practical application

Bjj has also become popular in recent years as a sport, through the boom of MMA and televised bjj events with many competitions held annually around the world. 

Whether you’re interested in learning self-defense or want to compete at the highest level, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu may be the perfect martial art for you.

So lets breakdown brazilian jiu jitsu vs japanese jiu jitsu to see how they are similar and how they differ.

What is BJJ?

So what is bjj?

BJJ (an acronym for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu) is a derivative of Judo developed in Brazil by the founders Carlos and Hélio Gracie .

Judo was already the most popular form of martial arts in Japan, but when Mitsuyo Maeda taught his techniques to the Gracie brothers they became known outside that country as “jiu-jitsu.”

The Gracie brothers called it “jiu-jitsu”, ever since. This is a martial art that focuses on grappling and ground fighting.

In the below video you will see a bjj challenge match. Often these matches were held in the early days of bjj to prove its effectiveness against other martial arts.

Here is a video of bjj vs kung fu.

(While kung fu isn’t the same as japanese jj it does have some of the same traditional principles)

The reason why bjj is so effective is because:

  • includes submissions and pins
  • teaches vast knowledge of effective techniques
  • includes technique testing in submission based competition
  • emphasizes frequent live sparring again a resisting opponent
  • takes from several other effective martial arts such as judo, wrestling, and sambo

Furthermore, BJJ promotes the concept that a smaller, weaker person can successfully defend themselves against a bigger, stronger assailant by using leverage and proper technique.

The focus on ground fighting makes BJJ unique among martial arts, and it has become increasingly popular in recent years due to its effectiveness in mixed martial arts (MMA) competitions.

At its core, bjj is about controlling, subduing and submitting your opponent.

Thus,  it  involves chess-like strategy and a nearly endless knowledge of positions, submissions, and techniques.

What Does Jiu Jitsu Mean?

What does jiu jitsu mean?

Jiu jitsu literally translates to the “gentle art”.

This is to mean that with proper use of jiu jitsu you can control your opponent and subdue them with little to injury to them or yourself.

It is often used in self-defense situations as it can help disable an attacker without the need for physical strength.

Its not unheard of for a smaller person to utilize jiu jitsu to control a larger, untrained individual.

If you take someone with 1 year of bjj training and put them against a larger, untrained person in a grappling match, the adds that the bjj trained individual will win every time is very high.

What Is Japanese Jiu Jitsu?

Japanese jiu jitsu at its core can be considered more judo based.

The way in which it diverts from judo is that it does have forms of striking (striking often similar to karate).

Similar to bjj, it does utilize forms of wrist and join locks to subdue an opponent.

This alludes to the fact that in order to successfully execute these techniques, one does not need brute strength, but rather focus and precision.

The big difference is that in Japanese jiu jitsu there isn’t as large of an emphasis put upon live sparring or performing techniques on a fully resisting partner.

Often it may resemble aikido in this way. However, you may still learn some valuable techniques and principles in Japanese jiu jitsu such as:

  • kuzushi – off balancing your opponent
  • distance management
  • verbal de-escalation

It’s important to realize that a Japanese jiu jitsu black belt is no where near as skilled as a brazilian jiu jitsu black belt – this is heavily due to bjj’s emphasis on frequent live sparring

BJJ Self Defense Training – Why It’s The Most Effective Martial Art for Self Defense

To highlight the information learned about BJJ self defense training based on my personal experience and the testimony of my coaches.

BJJ self-defense training is an excellent way to learn how to defend yourself in a real-world situation. 

It is considered one of the most effective self-defense systems since it is an art that focuses on grappling and ground fighting.

This self-defense training will teach you how to control and submit to your attacker, and how to escape from dangerous situations.

In addition, it will give you the confidence and skills you need to defend yourself in any situation. Whether you are faced with a street fight or a home invasion, BJJ self-defense training will give you the tools you need to protect yourself and your loved ones.

There are a number of reasons why bjj is so effective for self defense:

  • First, BJJ focuses on using leverage and techniques like joint locks to subdue an opponent, rather than relying on striking or kicking. This makes it very effective in close quarters, where striking may not be an option or may be less effective at controlling an attacker
  • Second, it emphasizes being in control and on top. It also teaches how to defend oneself if you end up at the bottom. A high-level BJJ player will have no trouble obtaining top control or disengaging back to the feet if they don’t want to be there.
  • Third,  they will know many takedowns to put the opponent on the ground where the opponent likely doesn’t want to be. While it’s always better to learn grappling and striking, it is wrong to assume a grappler can’t handle someone throwing strikes at them in the street.
  • Lastly, grappling teaches range, level changes, and angles to perform takedowns against strikers. If a person is throwing punches and doesn’t know how to defend takedowns, they will be on the ground before they even know what happened.

All of these factors make BJJ an excellent choice for anyone looking to gain an edge in self-defense.

Differences Between Jiu Jitsu and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

Despite the fact that they are likely spawn from the same martial art, judo. These great martial arts have distinct differences. The table below will serve as our comprehensive guide, just to name a few.

Jiu Jitsu
                                                Brazilian Jiu Jitsu 
Is one of the oldest and most widely practiced forms of self-defense, originating in Japan.Is a relatively new style that was developed in Brazil in the early twentieth century.
It focuses on throwing and takedowns as well as strikesIt emphasizes ground fighting
 It places a greater emphasis on submissions, such as chokeholds and arm locks.
Traditional jiu jitsu practitioners wear a GiPractitioners can wear gi or no gi attire depending on the class

Both styles emphasize the use of leverage and joint locks to subdue an opponent.

Where Does Jiu Jitsu Come From?

Jiu-Jitsu originated in feudal Japan around 500 years ago from some older, unknown roots. T

he primary focus for jiu-jitsu was the Japanese feudal battlefield where samurai carried swords (a long Katana and a short Wakizashi) as well as knives called Tanto. When they were on the Battlefield, they wore hardened armor, but when they weren’t fighting, they traditional kimonos.

When weapons were not an option, the last resort was an early form of jiu jitsu

While it is true that the modern form of jiu-jitsu originated in Japan, many martial art has its roots in India. The first recorded instance of a fight using jiu-jitsu techniques was between a Buddhist monk and a fighter from Pakistan in ~2000BC.

Later in the 1900s, a person named Mitsuyo Maeda developed a more modern form of jiu-jitsu.

He combined all of these arts into one cohesive system. He traveled the world teaching jiu-jitsu to anyone who was interested, and it eventually spread to Brazil where it evolved into the martial art we know today.

Judo Vs Japanese Jiu Jitsu

Judo vs Japanese Jiu Jitsu – aren’t these the same?

Judo was actually derived from Japanese Jiu-Jitsu.

It eliminated many aspects of Japanese jiu jitsu such as strikes and weaponry, and eventually became an extremely popular sport, even making it to the Olympics.

It focuses almost solely on throws, takedowns, and trips. It is highly effective both in sport and self defense scenarios

BJJ schools claim they took the framework from Japanese Jiu-Jitsu, but if you train for a while, you’ll realize that it comes almost entirely from Judo newaza (ground fighting techniques) which was originally from Judo.

Judo newaza was the spawn that eventually grew into many popular brazilian jiu jitsu techniques.

For example, a prime driving force behind Gracie (Brazilian) JJ was Kimura, who was a renowned Judo practitioner (who of course popularize the joint lock known today as the Kimura).

There is no doubt that both Judo and Japanese jiu-jitsu are incredibly effective martial arts. However, if I had to choose one in the present day, I would have to go with Judo.

Judo emphases the most effective techniques and frequent live sparring against a resisting opponent.

Judo has a history that dates back more than a century, and it has been refined and improved over the years. The techniques involved in Judo are extremely effective, and they can be used in a variety of situations.

Japanese jiu-jitsu is also an excellent art, but I believe that Judo is a bit better.

Judo is more focused and effective, and it offers a wider range of techniques that can be used in a variety of real life scenarios.

Is Japanese Jiu Jitsu Effective?

So is Japanese jiu jitsu effective?

At one point Japanese jiu jitsu may have been effective, however, modern Japanese jiu jitsu has become less effective.

The main reason why Japanese jiu jitsu isn’t considered as effective as Brazilian jiu jitsu is because it no longer has frequent live sparring.

Live sparring is the ultimate tell of how effective a martial art is.*

If you are able to properly perform techniques on a fully resisting opponent than there is no doubt that it is effective.

Judo and Brazilian jiu jitsu both spawned from Japanese jiu jitsu and they have continually included aspects of live sparring and competition.

It seems that Japanese jiu jitsu may take the path of the more traditional martial arts. Where techniques are practiced on a permitting opponent.

While this may be effective at learning the general principles of a technique, ultimately, if it isn’t practiced ono a resisting person then there’s no way to say if it will actually work in a self defense situation

What Is Better, BJJ or JJ?

Conclusively, what is better, bjj or jj?

Simply due to live sparring training bjj can be considered a more practical martial art.

While japanese jj still can teach you effective principles and philosophies if you are a seeking a more practical martial art bjj may be the better choice for you.

Japanese jiu jitsu has many aspects of traditional martial arts, but it doesn’t seem to have involved with the times unlike Judo and Brazilian jiu jitsu

So, which style is better? Well, that depends on your own preferences and goals. If you are interested in learning a martial art that focuses on ground grappling, and teaches powerful ground techniques then BJJ would be a better choice. 

If you are interested in learning a martial art that focuses on traditional martial arts aspects and includes striking and weaponry japanese jj may be a better option for you.

Thanks for reading and hopefully this shed some light on bjj vs Japanese jj .

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