Japanese Jujutsu and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu: The Key Differences Between These Two Martial Arts

Japanese Jujutsu and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu: The Key Differences Between These Two Martial Arts

It’s easy to get confused between Japanese jujutsu and Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ) due to their many similarities. They’re both focused on ground fighting and require wearing a gi, which is their official uniform. However, the two disciplines have significant differences in how they were developed and their combat philosophies.

Exploring these differences offers valuable insights that will help you tell each other apart and find out whether it’s best to join a Japanese jujutsu or Brazilian jiu-jitsu Philippines class.

From philosophies to real-life applications, here are the key differences between these two influential martial arts:


Historical Background

When it comes to its historical roots, Japanese jujutsu can be traced back to samurai warriors who sought effective means of unarmed combat without weapons. In short, jujutsu was developed for battlefield combat and self-defense.

In feudal Japan, where battles were unpredictable and weapons weren’t always available, warriors needed to be adept at close-quarters combat. Jujutsu emerged as a comprehensive system that combined strikes, joint locks, throws, and groundwork to subdue opponents. Over the years, these techniques were refined, paving the way for new styles. This is how Brazilian jiu-jitsu came about.

BJJ is derived from Japanese jujutsu, judo, and other martial arts. Its origins can be traced back to a Japanese judoka, Mitsuyo Maeda, who brought the discipline to Brazil. However, it was the Gracie family that refined the techniques further into what most people know of Brazilian martial arts today. They emphasize ground-based combat and submissions, making BJJ suitable for smaller individuals to overcome larger opponents. This also marked a fundamental shift from traditional Japanese jujutsu.

Self-Defense vs. Sport

As mentioned previously, Japanese jujutsu is primarily designed for self-defense, equipping practitioners with techniques to protect oneself in real-life threatening situations. This includes defending against grabs, strikes, and various types of attacks. The emphasis of this martial art is to quickly neutralize threats and ensure safety.

While its techniques are still applicable to self-defense, BJJ has also evolved into a competitive sport with defined rules and scoring systems. In competitions, BJJ involves points awarded for positional control, sweeps, and submissions. This shift has led to the development of specialized techniques and strategies optimized for success within the rules of the sport.


Philosophical Foundations


Japanese jujutsu’s philosophy extends beyond mere physical techniques. It encompasses principles like “ju,” meaning flexibility or gentleness, and “do,” signifying the path or way of self-improvement. The goal is to achieve harmony with opponents and seek to resolve conflicts without excessive force. This holistic approach emphasizes personal growth, humility, and ethical conduct.

On the other hand, BJJ’s philosophy is rooted in the belief that a smaller, technically skilled practitioner can overcome a larger opponent by employing precise techniques and intelligent strategy. This mindset emphasizes problem-solving on the mat, encouraging you to analyze situations and adapt your techniques based on the opponent’s movements and reactions.


Techniques and Focus


In terms of techniques, there are plenty of distinguishable elements that separate jujutsu and BJJ. The former covers a wide spectrum of techniques suitable for different situations. For example, joint locks, throws, strikes, and immobilization techniques are integrated to give you options for both stand-up and ground encounters. The goal of Japanese jujutsu is to control your opponent, disable them if necessary, and escape or neutralize threats.

On the other hand, BJJ mainly focuses on ground-based techniques. This includes positional control, submissions, and escapes. Also, the goal in BJJ is to control your opponents’ positions and take them to the ground. Once you’ve applied dominance, you can use tactics such as joint locks and chokeholds to secure your victory or make the opponent submit.


Training Methods


Training for Japanese jujutsu often involves practicing predefined scenarios to prepare for diverse combat situations. This may include learning how to respond to various attacks and situations through prearranged drills. This kind of training cultivates muscle memory and decision-making skills, enabling you to react effectively in real-life scenarios.

For BJJ, the training involves live sparring sessions called “rolling.” Here, you can practice your techniques against resisting opponents. This approach fosters adaptability, quick thinking, and the ability to apply techniques under pressure. It also enhances your physical conditioning.


Gi (Uniform) Usage


The official uniform for both Japanese jujutsu and BJJ is a gi, which consists of a jacket and pants. However, the purpose and significance of the attire for either martial art are quite different. In Japanese jujutsu, the gi serves both functional and symbolic purposes. It’s the proper clothing and represents the connection to martial arts’ traditions.

In BJJ, the gi has a more practical significance. The uniform is used as part of the techniques to control and manipulate opponents. Grips on the fabric enable practitioners to have greater control and leverage.


While Japanese Jujutsu and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu share many similarities, they’re distinct in their combat goals, martial arts philosophies, and fighting techniques. Exploring these differences is the first step in further understanding the beauty and value of both martial arts. This can also help you choose which one resonates most with your objectives. Whether it’s the traditional roots of Japanese jujutsu or the dynamic sport of Brazilian jiu-jitsu, they’re both valuable for someone seeking to master the art of combat.

Back to Top