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JIU JITSU VS KUNG FU
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JIU JITSU VS KUNG FU

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There are many factors that go into the decision to start Martial Arts, potential students will usually weigh up different fighting systems to see which suits them best. They may look to weigh up the pros and cons with styles like bjj vs muay thai or bjj vs kickboxing, as they usually look at a grappling art against a striking art. In terms of BJJ and Kung Fu, both arts have significant notoriety and have an esteemed reputation within the Martial Arts community. 

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kung fu vs jiu jitsu

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has become one of the most popular choices for Martial Artists, since the rise of Mixed Martial Arts and the UFC. BJJ is a pure grappling based fighting system that uses advanced and dynamic movements in order to defeat an opponent. The core principle in BJJ is to take away the space of an opponent when they are in the top position, and progress through different control positions. The other core principle is when a student is underneath an opponent, they must create space in order to set up sweeps. In both positions a BJJ practitioner will look to utilise different submissions like choke holds and joint locks.

Kung Fu uses a different set of principles to most other common striking arts. When we look at styles like boxing, karate or jiu jitsu, they use more linear movements but Kung Fu uses a more reactionary circular movement. Kung Fu practitioners will look to shift the weight of their opponents laterally and rely more on reacting to an attacker's movements. Kung Fu utilises hand strikes, leg strikes, grabs and throws, most of their attacks come from solid defensive actions. They are also known to train extensively with different weapons like nunchucks, daggers, swords and staffs.

What This Article Covers:

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THE ORIGIN OF KUNG FU

There have been many historical sources suggesting that a 5th century Buddhist monk named Bodhidharma was the first to establish and develop Kung Fu in Shaolin. There have been many stories told like the account of Bodhidharma encountering a group of monks in less than healthy conditions in Shaolin. These monks  grew to a greater physical health under his teachings, which enacted a widespread rumor about the potential of Kung Fu. There have been many other related figures credited with helping with the development of Kung Fu as well, like Bodhidharma’s disciples Sengchou and Huiguang. 

Historical documents have suggested that during the Sui Dynasty which was 581 to 618, that Shaolin monks who were serving as a military presence had achieved a revolutionary system of combat. This only consolidated the reputation and the spread of Kung Fu's system of combat. Although their military presence was limited for some time after this dynasty, Kung Fu remained a central part of Shaolin monkhood. During the Ming Dynasty which was 1368 to 1644, Shaolin monks were again conscripted for military service on occasion, as their most notable history was proven during the battles against Wokou pirates in the mid 16th century.

From the Sui Dynasty and onwards, Kung Fu monks had proven their great service and good reputation. Martial artists from all over China began travelling to Shaolin to learn the art of Kung Fu. Now there was widespread notoriety of Shaolin Kung Fu, as many masters contributed to its development over centuries. This led to the birth of a wide number of Martial Art styles in various regions throughout China. Shaolin Kung Fu has even been traced to the Ryukyu Islands in modern Okinawa, Japan during the Middle Ages, which apparently led to the development of shotokan karate. The spread of Shaolin Kung Fu into Western culture has become a modern occurrence, which can be attributed to American television in the 1970s with the significant rise of Kung Fu movies. Western culture has seen a significant rise in the overall interest for martial arts during the 20th century, as many students have flocked to join the ranks of both Kung Fu and Shotokan Karate. 

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THE ORIGIN OF BJJ

There is a significant history amongst the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu community that dates back to the 1900's. The famous student of Jigoro Kano, Mitsuyo Maeda brought his Kokudan Judo and Japanese Jujutsu to Brazil in order to spread the Martial Art worldwide. Mitsuyo Maeda became friends with a prominent Brazilian businessman named Gastao Gracie, and after spending some time with him he was introduced to his son Carlos Gracie. Mitsuyo would take on Carlos Gracie as one of his students and begin teaching him the intricate philosophies of his extraordinary Martial Art. Carlos Gracie showed significant interest in the randori section of Mitsuyo's art, as he learnt several choke holds and joint locks. 

Carlos would pass on all the knowledge he learnt to his younger brother Helio Gracie. Helio was a notably smaller and lighter man, which made many of the Judo throws typically hard for him to achieve. Helio developed his own fighting system which consisted of leverage based movements designed to work on larger and much stronger opponents. Helio's development of Gracie Jiu Jitsu paved the way for many future stars like Royce Gracie, Royler Gracie, Marcus Almeida and Roger Gracie. Helio taught many of his sons and nephews the art of BJJ, as Rixon Gracie became the family champion. Many challenges came in the form of luta livre vs bjj where Rixon Gracie fought against Hugo Duarte in a famous match on the beaches of Brazil.

Helio made the decision to grow the family Martial Art by taking Gracie Jiu Jitsu to the land of the brave, in the United States of America. Rorion Gracie was in charge of managing the Gracie Jiu Jitsu business, as he was the only son that spoke fluent English. At this stage Rixon was winning prominent fights against pro wrestlers in Japan, as his fame increased so did Rorion's paranoia. Rorion decided to use his younger brother Royce instead of Rixon to challenge in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, which was a contest to see which Martial Art was the best. Royce asked Rixon to train him, and as Royce starred inside the octagon, Gracie Jiu Jitsu rose with international fame. People began lining up to learn this fascinating Martial Art, so Rixon began running his own academy. Due to many of his family members moving to the US and starting their own academies, Rorion forced a change which saw many of the Gracie's adopt a new name for their Martial Arts, and so Brazilian Jiu Jitsu was born.

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HOW DOES BJJ STACK UP AGAINST KUNG FU

There are some similarities that BJJ shares with Kung Fu, as both Martial Arts do utilise throws as a part of their arsenal. In terms of BJJ the takedown artistry is more linear, as they try to hunt for a way to drive through their opponents. In Kung Fu their throws come out of a reactionary action, as they look to use circular movements. BJJ has a high functioning ground system that incorporates many control positions, as they look to advance with movement into submission holds like chokes, armlocks and leglocks. Kung Fu has a high calibre of striking weaponry, as they will often use quick defensive blocks followed by accurate and lethal strikes.

In BJJ there is no striking allowed, as they are purely a grappling based Martial Art. This means they will have to avoid strikes by closing the distance, so they can execute many of their advanced techniques. A Kung Fu fighter may have some excellent speed and power in their strikes, but trying to deal with the intensity of a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioner may be more than they can handle.

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BJJ TRAINING VS KUNG FU TRAINING; WHICH PROGRAM HOLDS UP

Both Martial Arts have an extremely reputable history, as Shaolin Kung Fu goes back a long way throughout history and throughout many conflicts. BJJ also has a reputation for extreme professionalism, as the grappling art has a lot to offer. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has considerably advanced concepts involved throughout the learning process. There are significant movements that a student will learn, as many of them have direct links to maneuvers inside its game style. BJJ training builds exceptional functional skills in strength, agility, dexterity and flexibility. The full contact sparring in Jiu Jitsu academies is world renowned and pays a high dividend to athletes that put in the hard work and continuity.

Training in Shaolin Kung Fu is more than a fighting system, it incorporates other ideologies like learning philosophy, calligraphy, massage, acupuncture and Mandarin. The fighting system itself includes learning non linear striking movements, most of the training involves conceptual thinking and mind over matter techniques like Chi and Chi Kung. Students will learn advanced levels of Chi kung  including healing illness and injury using their Chi. They will also learn advanced Chi kung techniques like breaking an iron bar over their head or hammering a nail into a piece of wood with the palm of their hands. Kung Fu students are bred tough in the mind and the spirit, as they look to embody the essence of a real Shaolin monk.

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WHAT ARE SOME OF THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN BJJ AND KUNG FU 

There are some considerable differences between both of these exceptional Martial Art styles. The obvious differences are that BJJ is pure grappling and Kung Fu is predominantly a striking Martial Art. The differences between the two are very similar to bjj vs wing chun, as the latter uses a plethora of similar strikes to Kung Fu. BJJ can make use of their Gi as a weapon, where Kung Fu practitioners study many different forms of weapons.

BJJ competitors must follow a stringent set of rules when they are at the competition level. Most competitions will ban the execution of certain maneuvers like knee reaping, slamming an opponent, neck cranking and locking onto any kind of twisting leg locks. In competition practitioners will start standing and will fight for the allotted time limit, the competitor at the end of the fight who has the most points will win. Points are handed out for gaining dominant positions like mount, knee ride and back control, they can also score points for achieving takedowns, sweeping an opponent and passing the guard. The only other way a competitor can win the fight is through a legal submission. 

Kung Fu has a different way of running competitions, as most of the tournaments are for students to present their form in the Chinese Martial Arts. Anyone participating in any one division will be judged on the same series of movements, these are referred to as forms, katas or routines. There are also International competitions which include the bi annual World Wushu Championships. This competition includes the modern barehanded form and different weapons routines, this also includes Sanshou which is a full contact sparring fight.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has an extremely advanced belt ranking system that includes students having to spend several years before becoming a master. The average student spends two years in each belt rank, as they slowly progress through the grading system by earning four stripes on each belt. There are five main belts which include the beginner white belt, otherwise known as the novice belt. The second belt is the blue belt followed by the purple belt, the brown belt is next and after that is the coveted black belt which is the Professor level. There are also two coral belts and a red belt but they are extremely hard to achieve. 

Back in ancient times Kung Fu status was achieved through age, as the older practitioners were held in higher esteem than the younger ones. A student would be awarded rank of skill through the gifting of a signed scroll, which the masters of Kung Fu used to attest the skills of their students. Eventually over the years, Kung Fu added coloured belts as a designation of a student's skill. The white belt is the first belt that a student will go through before they enter the first three novice belts which are yellow, gold then orange. The second three belts are named the intermediate belts which signify a series of more advanced attacks, these belts are green, blue and purple. The last three belts are considered the advanced belts meaning a student should be advanced in all forms including weapons and philosophy. A student must understand Kung Fu and not just know how to execute it. The last three belts are the brown, red and then the black belt, which is the master level.

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kung fu vs bjj 

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BJJ VS KUNG FU: WHO HAS THE UPPER HAND

This would be a great fight to watch, as Shaolin Kung Fu is very reactive in their form. BJJ is very dynamic and can be extremely hard to defend. Even though a Kung Fu practitioner comes from a long line of expertly trained masters, it is hard to believe that the art has not been watered down a little. Kung Fu predominantly competes by way of routines, meaning the full contact aspect is somewhat fleeting. BJJ on the other hand is in the full swing of high intensity and full contact competing. Like most striking arts, Kung Fu has a chance to win the fight, but a BJJ practitioner has a way of moving through the striking game and taking the match to the ground. This is where a BJJ practitioner will win the fight very comfortably one could imagine. In Kung Fu they do train extensively with weapons, so if the fight was to include swords or staffs then Kung Fu wins every day. Although it would be an interesting match up, if the fight was judged on pure hand to hand combat then BJJ has this one in the bag.

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