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BJJ vs Japanese Jiu Jitsu – Differences and Similarities Explained

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

Brazilian jiu jitsu is a grappling based martial art that uses concepts of leverage, angles, and timing to take down, control, and submit an opponent with joint locks or strangles.

Japanese jiu jitsu was originally developed for the battlefield for armed and unarmed combat. It includes throws, strikes, and weaponry, and focuses on traditional martial arts principles with less focus on practical application.

Brazilian jiu jitsu is one of the most popular and effective martial arts out there so lets take a look at how it was spawned from Japanese jiu jitsu (also sometimes referred to as jujitsu) and how the two martial arts compare to each other.

Key Highlights – BJJ vs JJJ

  • Japanese Jiu Jitsu (JJJ) was developed in Japan as a comprehensive battlefield martial art for samurai, including strategies for both armed and unarmed combat and later went on to spawn Judo
  • Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) originated in Brazil, evolving from Judo, and focuses primarily on grappling
  • JJJ encompasses a variety of techniques such as striking, throws, and joint locks, with an emphasis on combat effectiveness
  • Whereas, BJJ training includes some stand up grappling with a strong focus on ground fighting using techniques built around methods of control to work toward a submission via strangle or joint lock
  • JJJ schools may emphasize tradition and rituals which influence training pace and practicality.

Currently, not only is Japanese Jiu Jitsu not as popular as Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, but it may be difficult to find a legitimate JJJ gym that includes practical training and live sparring.

AspectJapanese Jiu-Jitsu (JJJ)Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ)
OriginAncient Japan as a method of close combat for samuraiEarly 20th century Brazil, developed from Judo which is derived from Japanese Jiu-Jitsu
FocusA broader system that includes striking, throwing, joint locks, and weapons trainingPrimarily focuses on ground fighting with an emphasis on submissions
TechniquesMore varied techniques due to the inclusion of strikes and weapon defensesMore specialized in grappling, with extensive use of chokes, joint locks, and positional control
TrainingOften includes pre-arranged forms (kata) and self-defense scenariosSparring (rolling) is a major component, with live resistance and application of techniques
CompetitionLess emphasis on competition, more focused on self-defense and traditional practiceCompetitive sport with specific rulesets for gi and no-gi competitions
PhilosophyCan be more formal, with a strong emphasis on tradition and disciplineGenerally more informal, with a focus on practicality and innovation in techniques
Self-DefenseComprehensive self-defense system considering various types of attacks, including armedEffective for self-defense, especially in one-on-one grappling situations
PhysicalityCan be practiced by all ages with varying intensity levelsCan be physically demanding, often requiring good conditioning and flexibility
PopularityHistorically significant but less prominent in modern martial artsHighly popular worldwide, especially with the growth of mixed martial arts (MMA)

Full contact sparring with a resisting partner is the key to determining a martial arts effectiveness.

Origin and History

The distinct lineages of Japanese Jiu Jitsu and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu showcase their unique evolutions within the martial arts world, each with significant historical contributions and cultural adaptations.

timeline of JJJ leading to BJJ

Emergence of Japanese Jiu Jitsu

Japanese Jiu Jitsu, known in its homeland as Jujutsu, emerged during the feudal period, intended as a method for samurai to defend themselves when disarmed.

Significantly developed in the 1500s, it included a range of striking, throwing, and grappling techniques, and weapons training. It evolved to prioritize technique and leverage over brute strength, allowing a samurai in armor to defeat an opponent.

Foundational Principles

The core philosophies of Japanese Jiu Jitsu and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu provide insight into their respective approaches to self-defense, training, and combat.

Philosophy of Japanese Jiu Jitsu

Japanese Jiu Jitsu, or traditional Jiu Jitsu, stems from the samurai era and is deeply rooted in the martial arts culture of Japan. It focuses on a wide array of self-defense techniques that include throws, joint locks, and strikes. The philosophy emphasizes the principle of “ju” (柔), meaning gentleness or flexibility, which teaches practitioners to deflect or redirect an opponent’s force. The ultimate goal is to neutralize threats using minimal effort in a defensive context.

Philosophy of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

On the other side, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) grew from the adaptation and evolution of Japanese techniques and philosophies.

BJJ espouses the concept of leveraging technique and position to control an opponent, emphasizing ground fighting and submission holds. It embodies the proactive philosophy of “the gentle art”, encouraging the use of skill and strategy over brute strength, which levels the playing field for smaller, less physically imposing individuals.

Technical Differences

The technical differences in techniques between Japanese Jiu Jitsu (JJJ) and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) are significant, reflecting their distinct historical developments and tactical applications. These variations play a critical role in how practitioners train and apply their skills in practice or competition.

Techniques in Japanese Jiu Jitsu

Japanese Jiu Jitsu, often known for its self-defense orientation, incorporates a wide range of techniques that are effective in a variety of combat situations. The techniques include but are not limited to:

  • Atemi-waza (Striking Techniques): Utilizes strikes to vital areas of the body to weaken or incapacitate an opponent.
    • Examples: Punches, kicks, elbow strikes, knee strikes.
  • Nage-waza (Throwing Techniques): Emphasizes unbalancing and projecting opponents onto the ground.
    • Examples: Hipt throws, shoulder throws, foot sweeps.
  • Kansetsu-waza (Joint Locking Techniques): Targets the joints to control or submit an opponent through pain compliance and potential joint damage.
    • Examples: Arm locks, leg locks, wrist locks.
  • Shime-waza (Choking Techniques): Applies pressure to the neck to choke an opponent or cut off their blood supply.
    • Examples: Collar chokes, forearm chokes, rear naked choke.

Overall, JJJ employs techniques that reflect its roots as a battlefield art where weapons and multiple attackers were common considerations.

Training and Sparring

Japanese Jiu Jitsu Dojo Practices

In Japanese Jiu Jitsu, training emphasis is placed on discipline, respect, and the perfection of techniques.

Students typically practice pre-arranged forms known as kata, which are sequences of techniques against imagined opponents. These forms are essential for developing the fundamentals of striking, throwing, and joint manipulation.

Live sparring, or randori, may also be a part of the training depending on the gym; it allows students to apply techniques in a dynamic, resistant environment.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Training

In an average Brazilian jiu jitsu class you can expect some form of the below:

  • warm up movements
  • guided instruction/drilling
  • live sparring or positional sparring

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu’s training is renowned for its pragmatic approach – in nearly every BJJ class there is sparring (“rolling”) where you attempt to perform techniquest and submissions on fully resisting opponents (this is where JJJ may fall short).

Rolling typically start from a neutral position with partners of various skill levels, allowing practitioners to work on positional control, submissions, and defenses.

Unlike its Japanese counterpart, BJJ rolling is not preceded by kata, instead practitioners drill specific techniques before engaging in live sparring.

Sport and Competition

In the realm of martial arts, both Japanese and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu have distinctive approaches to sport and competition, reflecting their respective philosophies and technical repertoires.

Competitive Japanese Jiu Jitsu

Competitive Japanese Jiu Jitsu (JJJ) commands respect for its traditional forms and diverse techniques. Competitors engage in matches that assess a broad range of skills including strikes, joint locks, and throws. This martial art stems from ancient samurai combat systems, which influences its comprehensive and varied rule sets in competitive settings.

  • Techniques Allowed: Strikes, joint manipulation, throws
  • Focus: Technical proficiency, quick responsiveness, and versatile combat skills

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Tournaments

Contrastingly, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) tournaments focus largely on ground-fighting and submission grappling. Points are awarded for dominant positions and successful submission moves, with an emphasis on control and technique over pure physical strength.

  • Scoring System: Points awarded for positions and submissions
  • Strategy: Dominance on the ground, leverage, and technique over strength

Related Frequently Asked Questions

Is Japanese Jiu Jitsu Effective?

At one point Japanese jiu jitsu may have been effective, however, modern Japanese jiu jitsu has become less effective due to it lacking live sparring and focusing on less practical elements

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.*

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 evolved 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.

What are the main differences between Japanese Jiu Jitsu and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?

Japanese jiu jitsu is more traditional, less popular, may include less effective techniques, includes striking and weapons training, and doesn’t include live sparring. Whereas Brazilian jiu jitsu focuses solely on grappling and submissions using joint locks and strangles with a strong emphasis on live sparring.

How do the techniques in Japanese Jiu Jitsu compare to those in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?

Techniques in Japanese Jiu Jitsu cover a wide array of standing self-defense moves, including atemi (strikes), nage-waza (throwing techniques), and katame-waza (grappling techniques). Brazilian Jiu Jitsu specializes in ground-based grappling, using position control and submissions, like chokes and joint locks.

What role does striking play in Japanese Jiu Jitsu, and how is it different from Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?

Striking in Japanese Jiu Jitsu is central to its repertoire, allowing practitioners to defend against attackers using punches and kicks. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, however, largely omits striking techniques in favor of focusing on grappling and submissions.

Can the belt ranking systems in Japanese Jiu Jitsu and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu be compared?

Both Japanese and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu utilize a colored belt system to signify experience and skill level. However, the criteria and time frames for achieving belts can vary significantly between the two, with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu generally having a longer and more stringent progression.

How effective is Japanese Jiu Jitsu for self-defense compared to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?

Japanese Jiu Jitsu is considered highly effective for self-defense, offering a diverse set of techniques suitable for various scenarios, including armed and multiple attackers. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is also effective, particularly in one-on-one encounters, focusing on control and submissions to neutralize an opponent.

What is the estimated time commitment to achieve proficiency in Japanese Jiu Jitsu?

Achieving proficiency in Japanese Jiu Jitsu varies by individual, but typically, dedicated students may reach a competent level within 3 to 5 years. However, mastering the art to the point of high-level expertise can take many more years of consistent practice.

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

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