Japanese Jiu Jitsu, Judo & BJJ: What’s the difference?

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Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Judo and Japanese Jiu Jitsu. All are different yet all three are thoroughly intertwined with each other. If you go as far back as you can, they all really came from the same place. Techniques and old styles of China and Japan, eventually would cumulate it the formation of all these different styles of grappling. Eventually going down the line, you would get to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu at the end. So what are the differences in these important martial arts? Here they are…

Early History

First, let’s talk about Japanese Jiu Jitsu. Jiu Jitsu is a generic term in Japan. There are many schools and thoughts of Jiu Jitsu in Japanese history. Two popular styles in older times included Kito Ryu Jiu Jitsu and Shin Yo-Ryu Jiu Jitsu. For example, Kito Ryu was an old historic style that focused on kazushi, or the breaking of balance which would become a huge principle in the Judo curriculum. In Kito-Ryu, there included striking, joint locking, throwing and forms.  It was practiced by warriors, and originally these techniques were practiced in full armor, as Samurai would wear full armor in battle. Kito-Ryu became one of the styles that Jigoro Kano would use to make Judo. Though it was more of a battlefield art, Kano studied it along with other Jiu Jitsu styles to make a new art, known as Judo.

The Beginning of Judo

Judo would become about from founder, Jigoro Kano. Kano studied many schools of Jiu Jitsu in Japan to make Judo a complete grappling art. He took the best of techniques of the old ryu styles, to develop the art and its headquarters, known as the Kodokan. Judo became such a popular art in Japan, that it was integrated into their school system and eventually into the Olympic Games. Seen as a physical and spiritual sport, it took the world by storm. Focusing on Judo’s athletic aspect, a Judo player, known as a Judoka, tries to get a clean throw, known as an ippon, or tries to bring an opponent to the ground to get a pin, arm lock or choke. Judo’s success would eventually reach Brazil, where it would once again, change.

The Spreading of Jiu Jitsu

A famous Judoka named Mitsuyo Maeda would travel to Brazil, to spread the art in the beautiful South American country. At the time he was teaching, Judo was also known as Kano Jiu Jitsu. He did demonstrations and eventually would teach Carlos Gracie as well as his younger brother, Helio Gracie. Helio was a smaller person, so he would adapt the Judo techniques for smaller and weaker people. He focused on the newaza, or ground grappling aspect. From his changes, he founded modern, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (also known as BJJ). BJJ would become an art that would change how the world would look at effective martial arts from its dominance in the early UFC events.

The Unique Qualities of BJJ

From Jiu Jitsu to Judo to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, there are all fundamental differences. Kito Ryu, was a Samurai art that was suited more for ancient battle if a Samurai had lost his sword. Judo would modernize the Jiu Jitsu styles into a neat, organized art that dealt with all facets of grappling. Then finally, BJJ would show the utter dominance of knowing how to destroy opponents on the ground with submissions and choke holds.

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