HomeSportsJiu-JitsuJiu-Jitsu: Know about the Self Defense Martial Art & Combat Sport
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Jiu-Jitsu: Know about the Self Defense Martial Art & Combat Sport

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Jiu Jitsu is a self-defense martial art and combat sport. The word “jiu-jitsu” derives from the Japanese word, “” means “gentle” and “Jutsu” means “art”. Essentially, Jiu-Jitsu means “gentle art”. Jiu-Jitsu is a family of Japanese martial arts and a system of close combat (unarmed/with a minor weapon). It can be defensively used to subdue one or more weaponless or armored opponents.

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Certain styles of Jiu-Jitsu were used to develop many modern martial arts and combat sports, such as judo, aikido, sambo, ARB, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and mixed martial arts. 

Brief History of Japanese Jiu-Jitsu

Jiu-Jitsu
Image Source: Gracie Swindon

Japanese Jiu-Jitsu dates back to the 1530s. It was coined by Hisamori Tenenouchi when he officially intriduced the first jiu-jitsu school in Japan. This martial art uses negligible weapons and involves strikes, throws, holds, and paralyzing attacks against the enemy. Jiu-Jitsu was developed to supplement the swordsmanship of a warrior during combat.

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Jiu-Jitsu History
Image Source: Gracie Miranda Academy

The oldest known styles of Jiu-Jitsu are Shinden Fudo-ryū, Tenshin Shōden Katori Shintō-ryū, and Takenouchi-ryū, which was founded in the 1530s. Many Jiu-Jitsu forms also extensively taught parrying and counterattacking long weapons such as swords or spears via a dagger or other small weapons. Japanese hand-to-hand combat forms focused greatly on throwing (including joint-locking throws), immobilizing, joint locks, choking, strangulation, and to a lesser extent, ground fighting.


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Theories around the origin of Jiu-Jitsu

The origins of Jiu-Jitsu are believed to date back thousands of years. Several theories revolve around its very first beginnings. However, many agree that it can be traced back to 4,000 years, to Buddhist monks in India. The monks needed to protect themselves during their ventures without inflicting harm on their attackers. 

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It then propagated to feudal Japan. There it developed into effective hand-to-hand combat during the war, before transitioning to become more of an art form and a competitive activity. Some even argue that it has older origins than India, which dates back to the earliest forms of “grappling”, which are preserved on the walls of ancient Greek and Egyptian ruins.

Then in 1915, a world-famous Japanese judoka, Mitsuyo Maeda, arrived in Brazil. There he soon started teaching and giving demonstrations in jiu-jitsu and judo. Jiu Jitsu and Judo at that time were not seen as separate disciplines. Three of Maeda’s first students, brothers Carlos and Helio Gracie, and Luiz França, became the founders of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. All these early pioneers contributed to the development of present-day Brazilian jiu-jitsu. They did so by maximizing the effectiveness of the existing techniques, creating new ones, and giving rise to a distinct martial art.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a primarily ground-based martial art. It uses the principles of leverage, angles, pressure, and timing, along with knowledge of the human anatomy, to attain a non-violent submission of one’s opponent. Unlike other martial arts that focus on strikes and/or kicks, BJJ focuses on close-contact “grappling” holds and techniques, and the application of chokes and joint manipulations.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
Image Source: Rolling Stone

As BJJ focuses on submissions, sparring and live drilling, become an essential part of the training regime. This type of training paves way for practitioners to practice at full speed and full strength, like in a competition. Training methods involve drills in which techniques are practiced against non-resisting and resisting partners; isolation sparring, where only a certain technique or set of techniques are used; and full sparring, where each practitioner tries to submit their opponent through a technique. Physical conditioning is also an essential aspect of training.

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Brief History of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

The Brazilian style of Jiu Jitsu is an outcome of the import of Japanese Jiu-Jitsu and Judo to the South American continent during the early 1900s. Its transformation into a new martial art style was by a core group of Brazilian pioneers.

The Brazilian style of jiu jitsu started spreading to other countries and continents. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu came to the United States in the early 1970s. However, its growth was relatively slow until the 1990s. During that period, the UFC brought mixed martial arts – and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu – to the mainstream public. In 2002, Carlos Gracie, Jr. founded the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation, which started holding organized jiu-jitsu competitions worldwide. In the last decade, jiu jitsu boomed, and now many of the world’s largest and most prestigious tournaments are held in the United States. All Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioners can trace back their “lineage” to one of the founding members. 

Jiu Jitsu Techniques

There are over 500 Jiu-Jitsu techniques. However, below are some of the major techniques.

  • Striking: Popular Jiu-Jitsu moves are centered around grappling and ground-fighting. However, in reality, almost every self-defense situation begins while standing. Therefore, it’s important that one feels comfortable and confident in the situation.
  • Clinches and takedowns: This type of standing grappling maneuver, is designed to prevent an attacker from striking or using weapons. A takedown brings the fight to the ground to give one the upper hand and the ability to end the altercation.
  • Surprise standing defense: Another technique is surprise standing defense. These are situational defenses to escape common attacks, including handguns, knives, blunt weapons, fists, and kicks.
  • Sweeps and submissions: Sweeps are the type that brings an opponent to the ground by knocking their legs out from under them. Submissions terminate the conflict by forcing the opponent to submit with techniques like chokeholds and joint locks.

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