Differences Between Japanese Jiu Jitsu & Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
What’s the difference between Japanese Jiu Jitsu and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu? Japanese Jiu Jitsu was the original samurai art. Some call it the “mother art”. It incorporated everything that they needed to use on the battlefield when the samurai soldiers were fighting. Obviously certain assumptions come along with that; that you are big and strong, that you are wearing armor and that you’re carrying a samurai sword (a katana).
Over the years in Japan the art was passed down from one generation to the next and it was sort of, not watered down, but it was obviously made a bit safer in some ways. As an example, the original “hip throw” wasn’t your back to someone else’s stomach. You would rotate around and it was your back to someone else’s back. You would throw them over the top so that they would land on their neck. The idea on the battlefield was breaking their neck, something you can’t really practice very often.
So there were certain things that were changed and adjusted over the years. But, the interesting thing about Japanese Jiu Jitsu is that it contains so much. There are so many different elements to it in the classes. You might do grappling sometimes, but you also might do kata (synchronized movements, or “forms”). It could be the throws that you see in Judo. It could be Aikido or directional throws. It could be striking, some of which got brought over into Karate. So there are lots of different elements under the umbrella of Japanese Jiu Jitsu.
The main difference between Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Japanese Jiu Jitsu is that Brazilian Jiu Jitsu focuses on one element of that. That element improves it 100 fold. So while someone who does BJJ may not know anything in terms of kata, or may not know any weapons work, or any of the classical stuff. This section here, which is the grappling game, in my opinion they are much better because they focus on it so much more.
If you enjoy this topic check out our article from Bill Jones where he describes his first BJJ class as one coming from a Japanese Jiu Jitsu background!
It is true that a lot of the techniques that we see in BJJ originally came from Japan, but BJJ has actually built on it so much more now. It’s like branches of a tree. When you learn Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, or Gracie Jiu Jitsu, you will see a lot more branches coming out. You become more able to actually react to what the other person is doing. Many times guys with a Japanese Jiu Jitsu background are more aggressive and harder simply because they have to enforce the techniques that they know.
BJJ is generally a more relaxed art; less classical, with less formality. Brazilians are a lot more relaxed in that respect. As a result there is more testing of the art. Where the Japanese mindset is that the instructor will dictate things to you, in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu the instructor says “Okay I’m going to teach this, now let’s try it.” Things are tested by the instructor.
In Japanese Jiu Jitsu the instructor will dictate and you are forced to have respect. That’s the etiquette. In Brazilian Jiu Jitsu the instructor will teach but then work with you. When you see what is going on there the respect for the instructor is implied through practical means.