Thursday, March 15, 2007

Japanese Jiu-Jitsu or Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

In a comment on a previous post, John asked:

Which is better for self-defence, Japanese or Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?
These are both fine styles, and while I am trained in a Japanese style of Jiu-Jitsu I have taken a few classes in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, attended a seminar given by Carlos Gracie Junior, taken a few classes at the main Gracie dojo in LA, read the books, and followed the buzz.

In this comparison I say go for instructor and school over style.

Look for:
  • Safety in training
  • Technical excellence
  • Skilled and well-behaved students
  • Good training atmosphere
  • An emphasis that fits your goals
  • No lock-in contracts
An experienced martial arts practitioner is going to be in a better position to be discerning than a complete new-comer.

Some more on emphasis. Consider:
  • Self-defense vs sport
  • What are the main areas of technique that you are training?
  • Balance between drills (kata) and free practice (randori)
These factors vary from style-to-style and instructor to instructor.

The broad technical areas in martial arts are striking techniques, throwing techniques, standing grappling techniques, groundwork techniques, and weapons.

Japanese Jiu-Jitsu

In the style of jiu-jitsu that I practice the main areas of emphasis are throwing, groundwork, and standing grappling (what we call restraint and control). Striking is there from the outset, but has less emphasis, and weapons enter later. I personally emphasise the self-defence and health aspects, with a little competition for fun and stress-testing, but not an aim in-itself. We do mainly drills, with a little free practice. If we are optimized for one thing, it's general self-defence.

Because there were many styles of Japanese Jiu-Jitsu -- not to mention the "reconstituted" styles -- technical emphasis and training methods will vary from school-to-school.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu the main emphasis is going to be on groundwork, because that's their speciality. So if you opt for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu you can expect to get good at ground-work comparatively quickly, while development in other areas seem to be taught later, if at all. Sports / self-defence seems to vary between instructors, but since they are into no-holds-barred, my primary concern would be about safety-in-training. Expect lots of free practice, but this may vary between instructors.

While it is true that a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner can bring a fight to the ground, in self-defense against multiple attackers you need to keep your feet to escape. You may need to look for a school that teaches a separate class in self-defense to complement the usual classes. The Royce and Charles Gracie book Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Self-defense Techniques shows what to look for, and the techniques shown look very familiar to anyone schooled in the Japanese techniques.

Instructor and school over brand. Talk to the instructor, ask around, see if you can try out a sample class. If you can find an "old-timer" who has been teaching for more than -- say -- 25 years, (s)he should have a good perspective on all these issues.

For those in Australia, especially Melbourne, come and have a look at what I and my instructors teach. After you have seen what we and our students can do, you will at least have a handy benchmark.


Anonymous said...

Wow, fantastic reply Sir. Many thanks.I have done a bit of homeworkd. Found two JJ schools near me. One teaches JJJ and the other BJJ. The JJJ instructor has been in the business for over 25 years. He runs a small shop but he knows his stuff and is also a fun kinda guy. The BJJ instructor is a much younger person with 10 years of experience and runs a slightly larger shop. I have tried the JJJ and like it. I have not tried the BJJ class but by talking to the instructor I was put off when he started to think of his BJJ superior to JJJ. So... I guess the decision is now very simple to make. And thanks sir.

Daniel Prager said...

My pleasure, John. I am glad that my reply proved helpful.

Daniel Prager said...

In Submission Grappling vs Classical Ju-jutsu;
when cultures and concepts collide
Stephan Kesting and Alexander Kask discuss some of the historical and cultural reasons for the differences between submission grappling -- of which BJJ is the most prominent style -- and classical jiu-jitsu (taken as a broad group, since historically there were a great many schools of jiu-jitsu in Japan, which had differences as well as similarities).

Brian said...

Interesting Article. I'm looking to take up martial arts soon and previously did Judo as a kid. So Japanese Jiu-Jitsu seems to be a natural progression.

The main aspect I am looking for is the ability to learn to take on multiple attackers, so staying on your feet would be an imporant element for me.

Anonymous said...

While the instructor's credentials, demaenor and competence are of course important it does pay to look at the differences between the styles: one-on-one BJJ tends to be superior against trained opponents, especially when they don't know groundwork. For self-defence I'd go with Japanese JJ (if there are no other options) since it's more geared to keeping on one's feet. A lot depends on what your goal is and whether you're interested in competition or not.

PS: every instructor, deep down, thinks his style is superior, whether he'll tell you or not, or else he wouldn't have chosen that particular style.

Daniel Sesseven said...

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Elizabeth said...

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