Brazilian jiu-jitsu

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Brazilian jiu-jitsu, commonly abbreviated as BJJ, is a martial art and combat sport focusing heavily on the use of submission holds through ground grappling in order to defeat opponents. Practitioners of Brazilian jiu-jitsu are called jiu-jiteiros, rather than jiu-jitsuka like for jujutsuka, the practitioners of Japanese jujutsu. Place where place learn Brazilian jiu-jitsu are sometimes called schools, academies and training halls.

The "jiu-jitsu" in the name is spelled a variety of ways, including "jiu jitsu", "ju jitsu", and "ju-jitsu", but "jiu-jitsu" is the most common spelling. All of these spellings refer to the same art, rather than variations of the art.



BJJ's roots lie in Fusen-ryu jiu-jitsu (which eventually was adopted into the Kodokan judo teachings) and judo. Fusen-ryu jiu-jitsu focused on newaza, or submission grappling on the ground, and its effectiveness in competitions convinced Jigoro Kano to include the teachings when he created judo.

Mitsuyo Maeda, a judoka and prizefighter, moved to Brazil, where he taught judo to two brothers Carlos and Helio Gracie.

Founding of BJJ in Brazil

The judo practiced by the Gracies remained mostly uninfluenced by the changes in judo in other countries. Instead, Helio Gracie continued to changed the focus of his own judo training, resulting in a large focus in newaza and eventually the creation of Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

Movement to Japan and the USA

Brazilian jiu-jitsu was passed down through the Gracie family. The Gracies taught BJJ in Brazil for decades and then brought it to Japan the USA, where they taught and also promoted the art through competing in mixed martial arts tournaments, particularly in the Ultimate Fighting Championship and the Pride Fighting Championships.

Culture BJJ has many of the trappings of Brazilian culture. Although there are exceptions to the rule, most schools are very laid back, and people joke around and hang out after class, so long as the joking around doesn't interfere with training.

School loyalty has sometimes become an issue of contention. Some schools are set against allowing their students to train at other schools, and students who leave one school and join another one for are sometimes labeled "creontes", which is basically a way of calling them traitors in Portuguese. Other schools, however, don't care and even encourage it.



  • positional dominance
  • position before submission


There are generally five major positions, with many variations or sub-positions or transition points for each. Guard: The most commonly known guard is the closed guard, in which one person is on his back with his legs wrapped around the other's waist. Half-guard: One person is on his back with his legs wrapped around one of his opponent's legs. Side control (across-sides, side-mount): One person is on top, laying chest-to-chest with his opponent but not astraddle. Mount: One person is kneeling astraddle, on his opponent's chest. Rear mount (back mount): One person has his chest touching the back of his opponent.

(Other lists may include north-south as a position, but this is sometimes seen as a transition point rather than a position and .)


There is no set curriculum for BJJ, and schools tend to vary widely in their approaches to teaching.

Schools vary on the amount of time spent on standing grappling. This typically involves training in grappling to take an opponent down,

Some schools practice striking, but typically this makes ups a very small amount of training .



Rank and Belt Colors

The BJJ community is relatively small.

The black belt is a very difficult rank to achieve in BJJ, and typically takes anywhere from 8 to 12 years of constant, dedicated training to be earned. Due to the rigorous requirements for receiving a black belt, there are only a few hundred black belts today.

Ranking and testing


BJJ competitions

Submission wrestling and grappling competitions

Judo competitions


Criticisms and controversies within the BJJ community

Gi and no-gi

Traditionally, BJJ is trained with a gi on. The gi used in Brazilian jiu-jitsu is almost the same as a judogi

The copyright of Gracie jiu-jitsu

Criticisms and controversies outside the community

BJJ is judo

Some traditionalist judoka complain that judo "contains" all the techniques that BJJ has, and point to videos of Kosen judo that strongly resemble.

Striking vs. grappling

For those true doubters, of course, the Gracie Challenge is still there. The Gracie Challenge is an open invitation to anybody who wants to test Brazilian jiu-jitsu. A person can walk into any Gracie Barra school, challenge the head instructor, and they will fight. There are videos all over the internet, particularly on Youtube, of the results, which basically involve lots of gurgling and tapping on the part of the challenger.

BJJ's effectiveness in self-defense

  • multiple opponents
  • weapons