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BJJ Vs Japanese Jiu Jitsu: Are There Any Differences At All?

BJJ vs Japanese Jiu Jitsu

Last Updated on May 19, 2024

If you have ever trained BJJ, then at some point, you may have wondered why everyone needs to specify that it's Brazilian, yet its founder Mitsuyo Maeda is Japanese!

You're not alone, and as much as BJJ and Japanese Jiu-Jitsu have many similarities, they are very different. So in this article, we'll elaborate more on this and help you determine which is the best for you!

Differences Regarding BJJ Vs. Japanese Jiu-Jitsu Fight Forms

The primary differences between BJJ and Japanese Jiu-Jitsu are:

  • With BJJ, the instructor will teach you a technique and work with you, whereas in Japanese Jiu-Jitsu, the instructor dictates what they want you to do.
  • BJJ is only performed on the ground, whereas Japanese Jiu-Jitsu is not an exclusive ground-based art.
  • BJJ does not allow striking offensive techniques, whereas Japanese Jiu-Jitsu does allow striking to close the gap between the competitors.
  • BJJ offers opportunities in sports competitions, whereas Japanese Jiu-Jitsu is only designed for self-defense.
  • BJJ opponents wear mouth guards, whereas Japanese Jiu-Jitsu opponents wear groin guards to protect their groin regions

The Uniqueness Between BJJ And Japanese Jiu-Jitsu

Japanese Jiu-Jitsu and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu are unique martial arts that are usually confused for each other. And while there are several similarities between these two in terms of history and techniques, they're different parts.

The leading cause of the confusion is usually because they both have the name "Jiu-Jitsu."

So if you have ever confused BJJ for Japanese Jiu-Jitsu, you're not alone; they are related to Judo. So here are the differences between Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and the Japanese Jiu-Jitsu:

1. Different Rules

As aforementioned, the critical difference is that Japanese JuJutsu requires strikes while Brazilian Jujutsu doesn't allow strikes. In terms of rules, here are the differences:

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Rules

Being the most famous Jiu-Jitsu martial art, Brazilian Ju-Jutsu focuses on self-defense techniques like grappling and ground fighting. But what does grappling and ground fighting mean in BJJ Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu? Well, these two terms are used interchangeably; however, there is a small difference between the two.

Ground fighting refers to hand-to-hand combat that takes place on the ground; it happens when the combatants are close to each other.

When it comes to grappling, the opponents are forced to grip each other on the ground; after all, striking isn't allowed. The match usually begins with the opponents standing before taking each other down and starting fighting on the ground as soon as the match begins.

Japanese Jiu-Jitsu

Japanese Jiu Jitsu Rules

Japanese Ju-Jitsu is one of the oldest JuJutsu arts that focus on self-defense using some techniques, including joint manipulation and throwing opponents. Japanese Jiu-Jitsu practitioners can also use martial art techniques like blocking, striking, choking, and strangling.

The Japanese JuJutsu is an exceptional martial art that includes three stages: striking phase, grabbing step, and ground fighting.

A traditional Japanese Jiu-Jitsu match begins with strikes alone, and after this phase ends, the competitors continue fighting by grabbing before moving to the ground phase.

2. Belt Progression System

Belt Progression System

With Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, there are 8 belt and progression systems. These belts include white, blue, brown, purple, black, black and red belt, white and red belt, and red belt. A number of factors are considered when awarding these belts, including sparring levels, technical knowledge, and time spent.

Unfortunately, with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, the instructor will determine if you will progress from one level to the other.

On the other hand, the traditional Japanese Jiu-Jitsu belt system begins with a white belt, but some Japanese Jiu-Jitsu schools start with red belts before proceeding to the white one. Some of the belts issued in Japanese JuJutsu include black, brown, purple, blue, green, and orange, among others.

Knock-Out Point: Korean martial arts also follow a belt system both as a reward and a rank promotion. Learn more about this here -- Taekwondo Belts.

3. Opportunities To Receive

BJJ is an exceptional art that guarantees you two primary purposes. Some folks learn this art because it has several competitive opportunities. Others learn BJJ as a self-defense martial art and work out in the process. Some BJJ schools have gyms for folks who want to learn it for self-defense purposes.

On the other hand, Japanese JuJutsu doesn't offer any opportunity in sports competitions area. After all, this technique's primary purpose is self-defense, which can help you in real-life combat situations.

4. Uniform And Equipment

Equipment and Uniform

In both Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Japanese JuJutsu, opponents wear the same uniform that’s known as Jiu-Jitsu Gis. But the main difference is the weight of these clothes.

For example, the Gis uniform for BJJ is lighter than those worn in Karate and Japanese Jiu-Jitsu.

In BJJ, opponents are allowed to wear mouthguards, which help protect their mouths. On the other hand, in Japanese JuJutsu, opponents can protect their groins using groin guards from strikes.

5. Training


With Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, a training class lasts about 90 minutes, and during this time, you will get several sparring rounds lasting for 30 minutes. You can learn some techniques during the short breaks.

On the other hand, Japanese Ju-Jitsu training sessions include breaking fall training, self-defense, a number of stretches, blocking, and strikes.

The Similarities Between The Two Martial Arts

First and foremost, these martial arts are closely connected to Judo. Traditional BJJ is the result of the information accumulated for years on Judo. On the other hand, Kodokan Judo is modified from Japanese JuJutsu, which means that they're both related to Judo.

Other than being related to Judo, these martial arts have a few similar techniques. Some traditional jiu-jitsu techniques include chokeholds, joint manipulation, and leglocks.

Another similarity between the two is that the size of your opponent doesn't matter. After all, both BJJ and Japanese JuJitsu are designed to help a smaller guy overcome a stronger and colossal opponent.

What Should I Choose To Learn?

When deciding between the two martial arts, there are a number of factors that you have to consider, with the main one being the purpose of learning them. If your goal is to take part in competitive sports, then you should go for BJJ.

But if you love striking and want to do more than grappling and ground combat, you should stick with Japanese Ju-Jitsu.

Knock-Out Point: The martial art forms discussed involve throwing, punching, and kicking making them formidable self-defense techniques. If you are more into throwing or punching and kicking only, then proceed here to read our post on this topic -- Judo Vs Karate.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Who Is Credited For Creating The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?

Brazilian Jujutsu was first developed in 1920 by Carlos Gracie and his brothers George, Gastao Jr., Helio Gracie, and Oswaldo. The Brazilian brothers developed this art after Mitsumo Maeda taught Carlos the traditional Kodokan Judo. The Brazilian brothers borrowed a lot from the traditional Japanese Jujutsu while creating this martial art.

Is Japanese jujutsu Better Than BJJ?

The answer to this question depends on the purpose of learning these techniques. Even though they can help with self-defense, especially when facing a huge opponent, one has an advantage over the other. 

Unlike Brazilian Jujutsu, you will learn some unique strikes and kicks with Japanese Jujutsu. Therefore, Japanese Jujutsu can come in handy in street fights and also help you defend yourself.

Is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Ideal For Street Fighting?

No, even though both martial arts are designed for self-defense, Japanese Jujutsu has the edge over BJJ. With BJJ, you'll never have to learn about some perfect strikes that can disarm an attacker; therefore, they're not effective in street fights.

After all, you will have to do more than grappling and ground fighting when involved in a street fight. On the other hand, Japanese Jujutsu practitioners learn a wide range of strikes that can help them overpower a considerable opponent.


BJJ and Japanese Jujutsu are exceptional martial arts developed over the years. They have lots of similarities, including their relation to Judo; unfortunately, only one of them features strikes. Therefore, if your goal is disarming an attacker with strikes, you should try Japanese Jujutsu, but if you plan on participating in sports competitions, you should go for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

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