Brazilian Jiu Jitsu vs Jiu Jitsu (Full Comparison)

Jiu Jitsu is a martial art that focuses on groundwork, such as grappling, wrestling and choke holds.

The name Jiu Jitsu is often used generically to describe a single sport, however, it actually refers to two distinct versions of the same martial arts from very different parts of the world. 

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu vs Jiu Jitsu 

By itself, Jiu Jitsu often refers to the Japanese combat art, rather than the similar yet separate Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

While both forms of this martial art share many things in common, they also have their differences. Today in this article we will be taking a look at what these differences are and how they came about. 

The History Of Jiu Jitsu

Jiu Jitsu is one of the world’s oldest martial arts, and it is believed to have originated with Buddhist monks. The monks used this art form as a means of self-defense that did not rely upon conventional weaponry. 

It was also widely used and taught to samurai for use on the battlefields of feudal Japan.

Samurai would often resort to Jiu Jitsu when disarmed or without a weapon, as a means of defending themselves and subduing an opponent with their bare hands. This martial art emphasized using flexibility to overcome superior physical strength. 

Many of the core principles of Jiu Jitsu would later evolve to become Judo. As such, Jiu Jitsu shares many things in common with Judo, such as its fixation on groundwork.

Much like its predecessor, Judo focused on overcoming those with greater strength through a combination of speed and flexibility. Many early Judo practitioners saw it as a means of reaching maximum mental and physical efficiency. 

Students learned how to get their opponents onto the ground through throws or tackles, and how to subdue them once they are on the ground. This often involved an in depth knowledge of grapples, chokeholds and other similar techniques. 

How Did Jiu Jitsu Reach Brazil?

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is actually the same martial art that originated in Japan, but with a few differences that were added by Brazilian practitioners. But how did a self-defense method from Japan travel all the way over to Brazil? 

The answer to this question came in the form of a man called Jigoro Kano. Kano was one of the first practitioners of Judo, which incorporated many of the techniques from Jiu Jitsu.

He aimed to adapt the martial art to make it less reliant on brute force and physical strength. This can be seen in modern Judo, which allows very small individuals to bring down and subdue considerably larger opponents. 

As Judo grew in popularity, one of Kano’s pupils Mitsuyo Maeda eventually started teaching it in Brazil. Many of his students began focusing on the groundwork aspects of Judo, and thus Brazilian Jiu Jitsu was born.

This martial art was started and invented by four of Maeda’s students, the brothers, Carlos, Oswaldo, Gastão Jr., George, and Hélio Gracie. 

Much like judo, the aim of this martial art was to bring your opponent to the ground and force their submission through various methods such as choke holds and grips. 

This martial art focused on allowing people with small builds to take on much larger adversaries and still come out on top. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a useful tool for self-defense, but it is also a sport in its own right and often practiced competitively.

Many of the techniques in this martial art are widely used in MMA.  

Differences Between Jiu Jitsu And Brazilian Jiu Jitsu 

In Japan, Judo is still often referred to as Kano-Jiu Jitsu, or simply as Jiu Jitsu. As such, the original martial art has been mostly lost to time and is no longer practiced in its pure form.

This is because Japanese Jiu Jitsu was mainly used in military applications between samurai, or as a means of self-defense. 

It did not become a sport or spectator event until it completed its transformation into Judo. If you do find someone who will teach you pure Jiu Jitsu, then it will be important to treat your teacher with the utmost respect, since it is a traditional art. 

On the other hand, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has undergone some minor changes to differentiate itself from Judo. While it still focuses mainly on groundwork, basic kicks and strikes were introduced from other martial arts.

It is also important to note that Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is mainly practiced for sport, rather than for its practical applications. 

While this martial art can still be used effectively in self-defense, it has been altered in a number of ways to make it more competitive. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu uses heel hooks and allowed knee reaping, both of which are banned in Judo.

It also has incorporated a number of different techniques from sambo, wrestling and a number of other western combat arts. 

Can I Still Learn Japanese Jiu Jitsu?

There are still a few practitioners out there who will teach the original Japanese form of Jiu Jitsu. However, they are incredibly rare to come by, and many of them may be scammers teaching an entirely different martial art. 

Japanese Jiu Jitsu is incredibly hard to learn outside of Japan, where it is mostly taught for practical reasons to the police and military.

If you want to learn this art form, you will often be better off learning Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, or judo. Both are still very similar to their parent martial arts, and are much more accessible to learn outside of Japan. 


Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Jiu Jitsu are incredibly similar because one is simply an evolution of the other. Both are great sports to learn, although you will have a much easier time finding a coach for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, over the Japanese variety. 

Hopefully, after reading this guide, you now know a little more about these martial arts and where they come from.

If you are considering taking up Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, then we would highly recommend doing so as a great way to improve your physical fitness and learn self-defense. 

Christopher Anderson
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