Functional difference between Jiu Jitsu styles

Can someone tell me the functional differences between Japanese Jiu Jitsu and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?

Did the Brazilians learn their style from the Japanese style, or did they evolve independently?

Does one have more ground work than the other? Does one have punches and the other does not? Are they really very similar?

While watching UFC, they announce competitors as either being an expert in Jiu Jitsu or BJJ, and one guy was a black belt in both. Are they different enough that you’d want to earn belts in both? Would knowing both be helpful in a combat?

The major difference between traditional Japanes jujitsu and BJJ is that BJJ focuses almost exclusively on groundwork. In this, it is quite similar to a style of Japanese jujitsu called Fusen-ryu, which does the same thing. There was a tournament back in 1900 (IIRC) which matched the Kodokan, home of judo, against Fusen-ryu stylists. Fusen won, 15-0, because they began every match by sitting down on the mat. The judoka, who were used to standing fighting only, were out of their element in matwork. and went down in flames.

I believe BJJ developed off the teaching of a Japanese named Maeda (cite). The almost exclusive focus on ground fighting came later.

There are many different styles of Japanese jujitsu, which was more of a battlefield art than exclusively a system of hand-to-hand fighting.


Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is an outgrowth of Judo, which is an outgrowth of Japanese Jiu-Jitsu. Complicated, right?

Jiu-Jitsu (or Jujutsu, or a number of other spellings), or “gentle art,” is a Japanese art that historically is usually credited to the samurai as an unarmed fighting method. There are many different styles, but very generally speaking it employs chokes, holds, throws, gouges, bites, and restraints, with some strikes. Partly because of its association with the samurai, it was close to being a dying art by the time of the Meiji restoration. A man named Jigaro Kano had a stroke of genius and determined to update Jujutsu and make it something palatable to modern Japan that could be practiced by everybody. He took out the most dangerous elements, included only those throws, locks and chokes which could be used full force on a noncompliant opponent, and made a system of scoring, so that instead of a deadly combat art he had a modern sport system, like wrestling. He called his new art Judo, “gentle way,” which carried more positive connotations of promoting a healthy way of life. Ironically, many claim that by trying to make Judo safer, Kano actually made it more dangerous and effective by introducing the element of non-compliance; to make a technique work you must execute it on someone actively trying to resist you, so you gain feedback on what works and what doesn’t on resisting opponents. This is a source of hot debate, however.

One of the early students of Kano’s Judo was a man named Mitsuyo Maeda. He traveled across Europe and the Americas demonstrating Judo and engaging in prize fights. Maeda eventually ended up in Brazil around 1914, where he taught the two sons of Gastão Gracie, Carlos and Helio. The Gracie family continued to develop the art they learned from Maeda, but put particular emphasis on the newaza, ground fighting. Their philosophy was that if a fight could be taken to the ground, an fighter experienced in ground fighting would gain an advantage, and a fighter (or assailant) without that experience would be out of his element. Helio’s son Royce proved the dominance of their Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu by defeating larger opponents in the early UFC competitions by taking them to the ground, completely out of their element. Nowadays the lines between a BJJ fighter and a Judo fighter are more blurred, but speaking very generally, a BJJ fighter will place greater emphasis on ground techniques, and a Judoka will have a greater repertoire of throwing techniques.

I took Jujutsu (Japanese-based) while in college. We had four types of attacks we’d learn: weapon attacks, hard attacks (punches, kicks, etc), throws, and wrestling. Japanese jujutsu focuses on the last two, but includes the basics of all four. As my teacher told us, anything that would help you win a fight was fair game. Brazilian jujutsu focuses just on the wrestling. I don’t know if they cover the other parts at all.

Pravnik covered it quite nicely. I saw some side-by-side comparisons of traditional Japanese JJ compared to modern BJJ. The traditional techniques were developed to defeat an armored foe on a battlefield if you found yourselves duking it out without weapons. Punching and kicking obviously wouldn’t be as useful as eye-gouging, choking and joint locks. Stylistically the biggest difference was the body positions used - the attacker would always maintain as upright and mobile a position as they could since you had to be ready to abandon an attack in case your foe’s comrades came to his aid. The BJJ guard, while it can be very effective in a one-on-one situation, is not something you’d want to use if a couple other opponents might show up at any second, especially armed ones.

I read that Masahiko Kimura, when he met and defeated Helio Gracie in 1951, said that Gracie’s style reminded him very much of traditional Japanese JJ. I assume this was a result of re-incorporating some of the harder techniques back into Judo that wouldn’t normally be seen in everyday competition.

When the Gracie family learned Judo from Madea, they extended the system (primarily by focusing on the ne-waza, as others have mentioned), and they called their art Gracie Jiu Jitsu. Because they trademarked the Gracie Jiu Jitsu name, other practitioners called their style Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

Gracie Jiu Jitsu can be broken down into 3 main groups of techniques: self defense, sport, and ring-fighting. The self defense techniques include punching, biting, and other stuff you’d see in Japanese Jiu Jitsu and Judo self-defense techniques.

The stuff you see on TV are the ring-fighting techniques, which are different than the self-defense techniques. Ocasionally sport Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competitors compete in ring fights, so there’s a lot of overlap between the final two categories.

There’s now a fourth category of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, called no-gi Jiu Jitsu or Abu-Dhabi style. It’s very similar to sports Jiu Jitsu, except that no gis are worn during competition, so the techniques are slightly different.

I haven’t studied Japanese Jiu Jitsu, but I’ve studied Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and it’s a lot of fun. The fact that it’s so competitive is a turn-off for some people, but the same competitive aspect really pushes you to get better.

I should also add that you can only receive a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu from a current black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (“BJJ”). Some people have started schools that practice “Brazilian Jiu Jitsu” but aren’t qualified to call themselves BJJ (e.g., they practice from video instructionals, etc.). Because they’re not qualified to call themselves BJJ black belts, they call themselves “Jiu Jitsu” black belts. That’s probably what you saw; a fighter who learned BJJ techniques at a school that wasn’t licensed to call themselves BJJ. Almost no one who competes in UFC is Japanese Jiu Jitsu, they’re almost all BJJ.

That’s not to say they’re bad. Diego Sanchez in top-ten in his weight class, he placed in ADCC, and he’s not a BJJ practitioner

Wow you guys know a crapload about this topic.

A guy at my work who studies Wing Chun told me that Jiu Jitsu and BJJ are really only good for ring fighting or other situations that physically copy a ring. On the street, he says two people using those techniques on each other would be cut up and bleeding from asphault or concrete, not to mention if there were pebbles, broken glass, other debris around.

It’s interesting to read that one of the types of the Gracie art is self-defense, and the activities Evil Economist lists for self defense (punching and biting) don’t involve rolling around on the ground.

Would Wing Chun be useful in a UFC situation?

On the streets, what would happen between two people using strictly JJ and BJJ against each other.

On the streets, what do we predict would happen between equally skilled BJJ and Wing Chun disciples?

These guys are all way skinny compared to many of the UFC guys (although not all, some of them are pretty damned thin) but this is supposedly full contact Wing Chun:

There was some groundwork (although some of it looked like plain wailing, but that works too) and some brutal forward kick attacks I would not have expected from Wing Chun.

This isn’t really a (n impled) question with a factual answer. Debate about the usefulness of BJJ in a street fight has been going on for decades. BJJ practitioners say: 1) it’s the other guy who’ll be on his back getting cut up, 2) people who want to stand up and fight will probably end up fighting on the ground whether they want to or not (e.g., the famous “street” fight between Wing Chun/ving Tsun grandmasters Emin Boztepe and William Cheung, which ended up with both people on the ground), and 3) the Gracie family included a lot of street fighters (or violent punks, depending on your viewpoint) who did just fine with BJJ.

That said, the debate will never end. I think BJJ is useful in any situation, but then I’m biased.

Wing Chun’s record in the UFC has been fairly dismal. Of course, some other styles that did badly at first have been rehabilitated, but that hasn’t happened with Wing Chun yet.

In my opinion, a resounding victory for BJJ, but like I said, I’m biased. This probably isn’t a question that has a factual response.

In my opinion, a resounding victory for BJJ, but like I said, I’m biased. This probably isn’t a question that has a factual response.



The answer is: Whoever gets an opening that they can capitalize on first. In a street fight situation the combatant who is first able to execute a controlling technique will win regardless of style. The point is to disable, knockout, or control your opponent enough to get away, or call the police while sitting on him/her.