Old School Vs new School
In the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu community there has been a long debate going on between old school Jiu Jitsu and “New School” or “modern” bjj. Many of Jiu Jitsu’s most iconic figures believe that bjj is losing the essence of what it is with modern bjj and they believe that old school Jiu Jitsu is superior. So how do we even distinguish old school from new school? Is there a difference between them at all?
These are difficult questions to ask given the subjective nature of them. Some may say that there is a difference between them while others may say that there is not. We think that there are some differences between them. If you look at the history of competition and how much the techniques of the athletes have changed you could make a very good argument that there are definitely differences.
We see big changes in the “sport” element of Jiu Jitsu. For instance, these days we see a lot of people point fighting and doing double guard pulls, the passing has become more timing based for many people and not as much about pressure, and we also see an enormous increase in lower body attacks. Some people say that the new school Jiu Jitsu has lost the roots of what made Jiu Jitsu so popular. Some believe that modern day Jiu Jitsu does not encourage self-defense principles.
New School Jiu Jitsu
So what makes new school different? Well there are several variables that change Jiu Jitsu, many of these things are not specific to just techniques. A lot of what makes new school Jiu Jitsu different is rulesets, and changes in the bjj as well. What essentially has changed dramatically is the rise of gi based techniques, changes in rules, stalling techniques, and a rise in lower body attacks.
Basically, the rules have changed over the last few years and a lot of athletes are not as determined to submit but rather win by an advantage or sweep. This changes the mentality behind techniques. Now this may not necessarily be true and this may just be caused by the level of athleticism and competition increasing, but, nonetheless, things have changed. Years ago, you would never see the 50/50 position, inversions, or all these lapel guards. Check out this tricky lapel guard below to see what we mean.
Old school guys consider a lot of this ineffective because it cannot be applied in self-defense, and the ones that don’t emphasize self-defense say that these positions promote stalling. American Black Belt World Champion Rafael Lovato infamously promoted a campaign on social media that was called “save Jiu Jitsu” because he said all these “New School” guards are hindering the growth of the sport. Check out some awesome technique from Rafael Lovato below.
So with these changes in the guard, the techniques, and tournament rules, there is such thing as “new school.” There have also been many new techniques develop that are extremely sport specific, for instance, the berimbolo exploded with popularity in 2012 when the Mendes Brothers had so much success with it. The 50/50 also blew up and many people consider these techniques new school. A lot of people think that they are ineffective, but they clearly have been proven effective. The contradictory part of all of this is that gi specific techniques have been around since the inception of competitions. Spider guard, lasso guard, and other guards similar to this have been around for years.
What is happening is that the athletes are getting so much better because more and more people are competing and this leads to new techniques. This leads to a substantial increase in the complexity of moves. Take the berimbolo for instance; this is an extremely technical move. Check out this video of the Mendes Brothers teaching this below and try to keep up with all of the details.
We have also seen a massive increase in lower body attacks. As little as 10-15 years ago it was frowned upon to use lower body attacks but today they are an enormous part of Jiu Jitsu. 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu founder, Eddie Bravo was competing as a purple belt years and years ago and went for a toe hold, at this time, lower body attacks were frowned upon and the crowd started to boo, yell, call him names, and some people say they threw stuff at him. Today, toe holds are one of the most popular submissions in competition along with heel hooks, ankle locks, and other lower body attacks. Check out our article, “The Rise Of Lower Body Attack” for an in depth look at how lower body attacks have changed.
So many of these “New school” techniques have something in common, a lot of them are not about passing the guard. For example, the berimbolo is a path that leads strait to the back, no need to sweep or pass. The leg locks can be entered without passing the guard. Check out this cool leg lock below with Jay Wadsworth. Also, if you want to get your foot in the door and add some lower body attacks to your game, check out Jay Wadsworth DVD below.
Old School Jiu Jitsu
Old school Jiu Jitsu is more simplistic than modern day BJJ. Many people that encourage old school bjj believe that it is superior and encourages the roots of Jiu Jitsu. So what constitutes as old school? It is hard to distinguish but the concept behind old school bjj is that you want to take your opponent down, sweep them, pass and submit. Sweep, pass, submit is the foundation of old school bjj.
This philosophy comes from the idea that Brazilian Jiu Jitsu was created by Helio Gracie for self-defense, the idea behind self-defense is to control your opponent. How do you do this? Well you take them down, pass their guard, and control them from side, mount or back for submission. If you are the one that for some reason gets taken down in a self-defense confrontation you must sweep your attacker, pass their guard, and submit. This is the safest path.
When you understand that this is the core of Jiu Jitsu you can start to see why people like Rafael Lovato Jr say “Save Jiu Jitsu.” The typical old school guy will probably play a pressure based passing game, try to dominate you with pressure, get to side or mount and apply a submission (see this technique in Pressure Passing Mastery against Common Guards by Lucas Pinheiro). They have a different method of attack. Check out this Cross Choke from closed guard with an amazing old school badass, Luis Heredia. Luis is a beast he was one of Rickson Gracie’s first black belts and he was considered Rickson Gracie’s hitman. If You want to learn some more techniques from Luis Heredia, check out his 4 DVD Set “Pure Jiu Jitsu.”
So is there really a difference between old school and new school? Again this is up to who you ask, there may be a difference and there may not be. It is definitely a debate. We think that it is very easy to make a case for the fact that there is a difference. Many of Jiu Jitsu best competitors from the pas have been vocal about Jiu Jitsu losing its roots, and many iconic figures like Rickson Gracie believe that Jiu Jitsu has changed for the worse. Rickson has even formed an entire federation called Jiu Jitsu Global Federation in order to changed bjj back. In order to learn more about old rules, they follow in Judo, please, check Judo by Old Rules by Denis Zenikov.
If you want to learn some of your own “Old School” Brazilian Jiu Jitsu here at BJJ Fanatics we have plenty of options for you. One of the best DVD’s you can get is Murilo Bustamante’s “Old School Crushing Pressure” DVD. Murilo is an old school bjj beast. He was in the UFC in the early days and dominated, and he is also a bjj world champion.
Want a different approach to old school? Check out Chris Haueter’s DVD Set “Old School Efficient BJJ.” Chris is one of the best guys to learn old school bjj from. He has a philosophy in Jiu Jitsu that you should always be on top and you should never want to play guard, if this sounds like you, check it out.