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With similar names, many of us have been caught mistakenly thinking Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) and Jiu Jitsu (Japanese Jiu Jitsu) are the same. It is a forgivable mistake as the name might sound similar. However, there is a clear distinction between the two, both being different and practiced in different hemispheres worldwide.
Jiu-Jitsu vs. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu: The main difference between Jiu-Jitsu and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is their practice. BJJ is a more contemporary version, often used in sports like MMA. The main focus is on grappling and submission. Traditional Jiu-Jitsu puts more emphasis on joint manipulation and throwing opponents.
To clear up some of the confusion, we have done some in-depth research on both, and this should help you better understand the main differences between BJJ and Jiu-Jitsu.
We will look at a brief overview of how each started before diving into some of the similarities and differences between each. This would show you what each would offer.
You might also enjoy reading: Jiu-Jitsu And Muay Thai: Ultimate Guide For Choose One.
Jiu-Jitsu Vs. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu – A Brief History
Before looking at some of the differences and similarities, we have to take a trip back in time to look at the origins of each.
For this article, we would only look at how each of these two came to be without diving too deep into the rich history of each.
What Is The Japanese Jiu-Jitsu?
Japanese Jiu Jitsu is one of the oldest forms of martial arts, and it is responsible for the start of sports like Judo and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. It is believed to have started with Buddhist monks to present a more peaceful method of self-defense. Jiu-Jitsu does not require the use of any weapons, and traditionally, it is made for defense.
The first combat use of Jiu-Jitsu is believed to have been by the Japanese Samurai. It is believed that even though these warriors made use of weapons, it is self-defense that saved many of them in close-quarter combat.
With numerous safety methods included in the modern era, it is now a civilian sport with numerous followers in countries like Japan.
What Is The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?
It is believed that a man named Jigoro Kano is responsible for the development of Judo during the late 19th Century. Due to the smaller stature of Kano, he adapted the sport to reduce the overall focus on strength and focus more on developing your fight position. Additionally, Judo would focus more on attacking the opponent to get them off balance.
Once Judo arrived in Brazil during the early 20th Century, Carlos Gracie became interested in the ground aspect of Jiu Jitsu. Due to his fascination, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu was born.
The aim is not self-defense; the focus is on the person getting their opponent on the ground to force a submission.
Jiu-Jitsu Vs. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu: Main Similarities
Before we break down some of the differences, you should understand where and how they are similar.
In this section, we will look at a few of the similarities that have made these two sports so confusing that people would suggest one is the same as the other.
1- Similar Holds
One of the first similarities between these two sports stem from the various holds. Both BJJ and traditional Jiu-Jitsu rely on armlocks, leglocks, pins, and other forms of joint manipulation to win the fight.
The traditional chokehold is often the main hold people aim for in an attempt to win their opponent with submission.
2- No Focus On Size
While you often want to be bigger than your opponent when fighting, both these forms of martial arts will not have any direct focus on size.
The phrase “size doesn’t matter” directly applies to these sports. The aim is to have someone smaller easily take down someone who might be much larger due to using their size and weight against them.
3- Both Are Effective For Self-Defense
Since traditional Jiu-Jitsu mainly focuses on self-defense, BJJ also has some roots in self-defense.
While it might be slightly more aggressive and encourage the fighter to attack more often, it can also be used in self-defense situations.
In fact, the main aim of these two forms of martial arts is to encourage the fighter to defend themself.
4- Uniform (AKA Gi)
The uniforms (also called Gi) in BJJ and Jujutsu are very similar.
Both wear traditional Japanese gi. However, BJJ gi tends to be thicker and longer, like Judo gis, because BJJ has more moves that require practitioners to grab the gi.
Additionally, Japanese Jujutsu classes do not typically have a no-gi counterpart like BJJ.
If you are interested in exploring the differences between BJJ Gi and No Gi, I wrote a whole article that I encourage you to read.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Vs. Jiu-Jitsu: Main Differences
Now that you have seen some of the similarities, we should also focus on the numerous differences.
While they share the same name, one has become more contemporary and often used in UFC, while the other is more traditional.
Before you determine which one would be best for you, we should look at a few of the differences:
1- Different Rules
One of the first differences you will notice is when you look at the different rules of each sport. When it comes to BJJ, professional competitions are organized around the world, and this would work by method of a scoring system.
The main goal is to get your opponent to the ground and force a submission. However, here is a breakdown of the scoring:
|Back Control/Slide||4 points|
|Guard Pass||3 points|
|Take Down||2 points|
The main goal is to accumulate as many points as possible within the time frame to reach the number of points before being declared the winner.
For Japanese Jiu-Jitsu, the main focus is on self-defense, and each person would focus on getting their opponent to the ground as well. While no scoring is present, fighters would be allowed to defend against strikes and attacks before moving on to grappling.
Once the fighter is on the ground, the other can win by using strangulations and joint manipulation techniques to force a submission.
2- Sports Competitions
One of the key differences between these two sports is their main focal point. BJJ will offer fighters numerous opportunities to get into various sporting competitions.
As a matter of fact, BJJ is used in a variety of different fighting competitions. It would supplement other forms of fighting to assist the fighter in MMA.
Jiu-Jitsu offers fewer competitions, with most of the traditional competitions only being held in Japan. The main focus of the fighting style is to offer the fighter the opportunity to learn self-defense techniques.
One of the main benefits of Japanese Jiu-Jitsu over BJJ is that it offers better opportunities to defend yourself in real-life combat situations.
3- Belt System
There are various belt systems for each of these fighting techniques, which means that competitors would not be able to use the same belts for the same fighting systems.
To help you better understand the various belt systems, we have broken them down into a table listing the belts according to rank:
|Rank||Jiu Jitsu||Brazilian Jiu Jitsu|
|6||Purple||Red & Black|
|7||Brown||Red & White|
There are a few differences in how these belts could be earned, and different methods would work differently for the varying styles.
For BJJ, you could enter a variety of fighting competitions, which would allow the person to progress through the ranks. In traditional Jiu-Jitsu, you will likely have less combative ceremonies when looking to progress.
One of the final differences comes in the form of training. BJJ is more contemporary and all-inclusive. This means that you will have numerous classes, which could last up to 2-hours, and you will go through a few rounds of sparring that will teach you some of the basics of BJJ.
For traditional Jiu-Jitsu, you are more likely to focus on specific aspects during training. These aspects will help you hone your skills and improves your dedication to the sport.
Here are the four main things you will learn with each session:
- Blocking & Striking
- Numerous stretches
- Self-defense classes
- Break fall training
Jiu-Jitsu Vs. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu: Which One Is Better For Self-Defense?
One of the questions you might be wondering about is which one you should participate in. Traditional Jiu-Jitsu offers you more value when it comes to self-defense, and you would be able to learn strikes and how to block these strikes.
BJJ is more focused on grappling and submission, which might not work best for those that engage in street fighting. However, the main aim of both of these martial arts is to improve your self-defense capabilities.
Which One Is Better For Self-Defense?
- If you want a very technical and physically demanding martial art with lots of competition opportunities and no striking, I suggest you choose BJJ may be a good option.
- And if you want a less physically demanding and more traditional martial art focusing on self-defense, including some strikes, I recommend choosing Japanese Jiu-Jitsu might be a good option.
No matter which martial arts you participate in, both would offer you great value in the world of fighting. While BJJ is more competition-oriented, it would still prove a useful method of defending yourself over the average person.
Let us know in the comment section whether you prefer Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu or Japanese Jiu-Jitsu.
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