What is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ)?

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is one of the most practical and most effective styles of self-defence in the world.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) is a grappling-based submissive style of martial art where the main objective is to control a resisting aggressor (usually on the ground) and submit by using joint-locks / manipulation and chokes. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has proven itself to be the most practical and most effective style of self-defence in the world. It has been adopted and used by military and law enforcement agencies world-wide as part of their defensive tactics / hand-hand combative programs.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu promotes the concept that a smaller, weaker person can successfully defend themselves against a bigger, stronger and heavier aggressor by using technique and leverage, rather than strength and size. It is a perfect style of martial art to learn for females, the elderly and children.

It’s widely acknowledged that over 90% of fights end up on the ground. This is where a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu dominates over other stand up striking styles of martial arts, such as boxing, karate, kick boxing etc, because it applies three simple rules in a physical confrontation:

  • Take your aggressor to the ground
  • Maintain a dominate position
  • Submit them to render them harmless

A more accurate way of describing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu would be, once a person has been taken to the ground, their ability to strike or use their physical strength has been diminished as they don’t have the footing nor the power behind them to deliver an effective strike. This is further offset by an experienced Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner who knows how to use technique and leverage to their advantage to overcome pure physical strength. Therefore, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu as a martial art and self defence system can be practiced and successfully utilised by anyone regardless of their sex or age.

The origins of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu extend back to Kodokan Judo ground fighting (newaza). Mitsuyo Maeda (Judo Black Belt) took his knowledge to Brazil and trained Carlos and Helio Gracie (amongst others). Through the Gracie’s own experiments, practices, and adaptation of Judo they transformed the ground phase of Judo to the art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

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Today, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is one of the fastest growing martial arts and sports in the world. This is due to its success in the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) and other Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) competitions.

Some who are foreign to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu think because Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu techniques form part of the overall makeup of MMA competitions, believe Jiu Jitsu must be an aggressive type of martial art to be involved with. However, this couldn’t be anymore further from truth.

Jiu-Jitsu translates to ‘the gentle art’ meaning there are no striking (punching, kicking, elbows, knees) elements used to submit your aggressor/opponent. Hence why it’s a fantastic sport for kids to learn.

The practice of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu as a sport, compared to MMA is vastly different and should be thought of as two completely different entities.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is an intense workout like nothing other you’ve experienced (both aerobic and anaerobic). Your overall health and fitness will improve as well as your mental health, flexibility, strength, cardiovascular fitness, ability to burn fat, and muscular endurance.

Sparring (commonly referred to as rolling) plays a major role in the student’s growth and development as it allows them to identify, apply and execute techniques on their partner (as they see fit and within the rules) whist grappling for position on the ground. Students must now think outside the square to escape and submit their partner, all whilst remaining calm under pressure. This is exceptionally good for kids to help manage and control their thoughts and minds whilst dealing with adversity.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is also great for building ones’ mental health and resilience that comes from training in this style of martial art. The ability to problem solve whilst thinking under pressure as well as self-acknowledge of their mind and body, in addition to the many social benefits or working within a large group of like-minded people.

In training, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu teaches you to persevere under pressure and overcome adversity every time you practice. It also teaches you about self-control, building character, relaxing in tense situations, modesty and most importantly, this isn’t a place for egos. What you learn on the mat, applies to everyday life off the mat. Ultimately it is a way of life.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is also a great outlet to meet likeminded people and to make friends. It brings together people from all different walks of life who share the same common goal. A sport and a method to promote physical and mental fitness while building character.

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Jiu-Jitsu is for the protection of the individual, the older man, the weak, the child, the lady and the young woman – anyone who does not have the physical attributes to defend themselves

- Helio Gracie, BJJ Grandmaster