Martial Arts come in many, many different flavours. Yet we find most people don’t really understand the differences in them. So what exactly is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?
On the surface they can look sort of similar, lots of very different martial arts where similar uniforms based off of the original Judo / Jiu-Jitsu uniform. Same as Hockey, Basketball and baseball all have a similar looking jersey at first glance.
The uniform we wear was designed to be grabbed, pulled, used for throws, controlling and attacking and strong enough to withstand all that. It was thick, strong and a single piece of material with no seems from one sleeve to the other. Other styles like karate and TKD borrowed the general design, but used a lighter material and seams as they didn’t need to be as sturdy for a punching / kicking based style.
And that is one fundamental feature of Jiu-Jitsu, it is a grappling based style emphasizing control of the opponent over inflicting damage through impact. In Jiu-Jitsu we attempt to immobilize and control our opponent through leverage in order to nullify anything they might want to do, while retaining the ability to attack ourselves.
Contrast this with a karate idea of “Ikken Hissatsu”, or "to annihilate at one blow”, the idea being to do devastating damage via impact in order to end a fight.
This is likely how Jiu-Jitsu got it’s name, which translates roughly to “Gentle Art”.
A example of this concept would be in the early days of the UFC and other similar events, when fighters of different martial arts went in to test their style against other styles. Back in those days Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu dominated in competitions with very limited rules… But, the Jiu-Jitsu fighters also won uninjured, and without injuring their opponent either.
This was achieved by taking their opponent to the ground, pinning and controlling them and forcing them to submit, or tap out by choke holds or arm/leg locks.
The practicality of it, and the safety of it (as well as the fun) made the style explode across the world.
As a martial art Jiu-Jitsu is much more hands-on then many. There is no standing in lines counting of punches, there is no memorizing and rehearsing patterns. Everything is done with a partner, and each practitioner knows exactly what they can do against a resisting opponent. After training for a while anyone can learn to control and subdue a larger, stronger opponent in a live situation, and will have done so many times.
Nowadays Jiu-Jitsu is practiced by young children, older adults, military, celebrities, police, and everyone in the middle. The combination of being fun, a great work out, highly practical and yet one of the safest martial arts has made it the fastest growing martial art on the planet.
If you haven’t tried Jiu-Jitsu it’s never too late or too early. Just get on the mat!