JJ and BJJ


Blue Belt
Aug 4, 2009
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I was just wondering what exactly the differences in JJ and BJJ were. It may seem like an odd question to the experts in the crowd, but I am looking for something to improve my ground game in self defense and to give me a great work out. I have come to understand that BJJ is like wrestling. So I guess I am wondering if JJ focuses alot on the ground game or does it involve alot of takedowns and if it has any striking whatsoever.

Andrew Green

MTS Alumni
Aug 1, 2004
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Winnipeg MB
Really comes down to a difference in training approach. BJJ is closer to Judo, in that everything is trained against full resistance. As victory comes by way of submission, it is largely about ground work, as oppose to Judo in which victory more often comes from a throw.

Chris Parker

Feb 18, 2008
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Melbourne, Australia

(I get the feeling this could be one of those long answers here, bear with me...)

To begin with, for most intents and purposes, BJJ is Jujutsu. It has been developed over the last nearly-century or so, primarily by a couple of families (the Gracies and Machados), who learnt their skills originally from a Japanese gentleman named Maeda. Maeda was one of the top students of Kano Jigoro, the founder of Judo. Kano was starting to send his top guys out into the world to help spread his art, and Maeda was sent to South America, ending in Brazil.

When there, he began teaching the Machados and their cousins, the Gracies, who learnt Kodokan Judo as Maeda taught it. But, due to a number of reasons including a cultural preference, the focus began to shift from the standard Judo that was originally taught, to applications on the ground. This lead to a large number of tripping actions (known in BJJ as sweeps), chokes, and joint-lock techniques on the ground, rather than standing up. As time went on, this has become BJJ's speciality (but not it's complete syllabus by any means).

As for the Gracies, most of the group of brothers all learnt together, with only the young Helio being left out. It was thought at the time that he was too weak to endure the training, so he would sneak out and watch his brothers, then practice what he saw. Eventually, he was brought into the training as well. He later became the head of the most well-known group of BJJ practitioners, the Gracie family, which includes Royce, Rorion, and most of the most well-known.

As said, BJJ came from Judo, so we should cover that as well. Kano Jigoro was trained in a number of Classical Jujutsu systems, most notably Kito Ryu and Tenshin Shinyo Ryu. From these two systems, he brought together what he felt was the best of each, and combined the arts to create his new system of Jujutsu, originally called Kano-ha Jujutsu, later Kano-ha Kodokan Jujutsu, then Kodokan Judo. He began holding matches to demonstrate the superiority of his new approach, and through various means including specific rules, Kodokan Judo began to gain a very good reputation. It in fact became so popular that Kano adopted a new (to the martial arts, at least) system of ranking, the kyu/dan system with coloured belts. It is thought that a main reason was so he could immediately tell the experience level of a student in a different city who he had never met before.

But Judo came from earlier forms of Jujutsu. So we should deal with that too.

From an older post of mine:

"As stated, Jujutsu is a large subject, and is very difficult to cover with such limited information... but what the hell, I'll give it a go.

Koryu Jujutsu is basically a generic term for unarmed (or lightly armed) combat methods from before the Meiji Restoration (circa 1868). If this is what you are after, be prepared to get confused. The term Jujutsu is not the only one you will encounter, and it will most likely be only a part of the entire curriculum of any school you train in. For the record, you may also encounter terms such as Kumi Uchi, Yawara, Te, Kogusoku, Koshi no Mawari, Taijutsu, Goho, Koppo, Kosshijutsu, Jutaijutsu, Dakentaijutsu, Wajutsu, Aiki, and Aikijutsu, to name a few. Each have their own particular flavour, and the use of a particular term in two different schools will not necessarily have the same meaning, or even share similar traits.

You can also split these systems up into other sub-sets, such as whether armour is worn (Yoroi Kumiuchi, Kogusoku, or Kattchu Yawara, depending on the system), or regular "street" clothes (Suhada Jujutsu). Or if you are studying a Samurai system, or one of the Commoner systems taught after and during the Tokugawa reign, when the Samurai were looking for more ways to earn money without the constant war of the preceding era (Sengoku jidai - Warring states period). Then you have the focus: Jujutsu with some weapons (such as the Sekiguchi Ryu, or the Takenouchi Ryu), or weapons with a Jujutsu-style syllabus (Yagyu Shingan Ryu, Kashima Shinryu, Araki Ryu).

Gendai Jujutsu, on the other hand, wil include some arts you may not have considered. Gendai (or Modern) Jujutsu is anything founded after the Meiji Restoration (1868), and includes arts such as Judo and Aikido. Judo was founded by Jigoro Kano, who was trained in a number of Koryu systems, chief amongst which (as pertains to Judo) were Kito Ryu Jujutsu, and Tenshin Shinyo Ryu. Kano took what he felt was the best of these arts, and tested his new approach against the best Jujutsuka in a type of personal challenge to other schools known as Taryu Jiai. Eventually, he founded his new system, which he simply called Kano-ha Jujutsu, and began taking students. When his students had developed enough, Kano began organising tournaments against other schools, where he restructured the rules to a degree, and his students began to win convincingly. This led to higher levels of fame for Kano-ha Jujutsu, and this eventually adapted into Kodokan Judo, taking one of it's final steps when it was accepted into the Olympics in 1964.

Aikido was founded by Morihei Ueshiba, again after studying a number Koryu systems, and developing his own understanding of them. Like Judo, Aikido went through quite a long development period, and different branches today have approaches based on the point at which their founders left to start their own system (for various reasons)."

The various schools of Jujutsu each have their own different flavours, and focuses. Depending on where you are, some will be available others won't. Hope this helps in some way.


Mostly Harmless
Jul 9, 2008
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Covington, WA
Without overintellectualizing the entire thing, you're going to find big differences in approach between a traditional Jujutsu school and a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu school. Same roots, but VERY different cultures and approaches to learning.

Add to this that there are tons of different schools of traditional jujutsu to choose from, all adding their own spin on the subject. If you're considering a traditional, japanese jujutsu school, I'd find out what specific style it is and look THAT up, because you'll find that one school is dramatically different in style and approach than another.

Ultimately, though, check out a couple of schools and see what you like. I believe that if you're looking for effective ground training, you'll find no better than at a BJJ school. While some schools will be slightly more or less formal than others, the focus is always on conditioning, solid fundamentals and strong technique.

Dave Leverich

Black Belt
Dec 8, 2006
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Albany, OR
Short answer, ground game and good work out? BJJ all the way.
Japanese JJ isn't what you're looking for in that aspect.

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