If the words “Jiu Jitsu” bring to mind Samurai and swords, you are not far off! The martial art of Jiu Jitsu dates back to around 15th century Japan. It stems from teaching Samurai how to fight without their katanas or bulky armor if they were to lose either in the heat of battle. Japanese Jiu Jitsu therefore contains more standing techniques including strikes, throws and in classical training; short or close-range weaponry. Typically, classical JJJ training is done using “kata” which is the repetition of a specific set of moves with your partner with minimal emphasis on actual sparring or “grappling” due to its goal of not just disabling, but finishing your opponent even after a submission has been attained- remember, this was a lethal training for soldiers! Most classical JJJ practitioners today focus on protecting and preserving the history and precision of their art and therefore have no interest in adapting their techniques, kata or methods. The culture is one of deep respect, formality and hierarchy.
Most other martial arts have roots in different elements of Japanese Jiu Jitsu as well, such as a concentration on throws like Judo or a concentration in striking like in Karate. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is another concentration on one element of Japanese Jiu Jitsu- Grappling. Or the “ground game”. The Gracie family is considered the creators of BJJ as they took Jiu Jitsu/Judo concepts learned from Mitsuyo Maeda and created an art that improves on the original through intense focus, creativity, practice. They felt that the rigidity of JJJ could be improved by allowing adjustments and refinements to some of the kata to benefit people of any size or strength.
BJJ is taught using techniques which are similar to kata in that it is a set of specific movements used to achieve a superior position in a fight or a submission. Sometimes several techniques are linked together in a fluid movement called a drill. Students are encouraged to ask questions, make minor adjustments for their own weaknesses/injuries and be creative during intense sparring or grappling under the guidance of a well-trained Professor. The culture of BJJ has its own brand of formality and deep respect for teammates, coaches and belt rankings but encourages “outside the box” thinking once you have mastered the basics.
Both Japanese Jiu Jitsu and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu can be rewarding undertakings. Each brings its own unique aesthetic that speaks to many different people. Here at Embrace Martial Arts, Professor Joel Garcia teaches Brazilian Jiu Jitsu to children and adults looking for a friendly but challenging addition to their lives.