Many martial arts styles are based on ancient fighting techniques, their origins mostly unknown, although often developed to protect or overthrow a ruling class. Surprisingly, though, the two most common self-defence systems today, judo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, both have very clear beginnings, and maybe less surprisingly, bullying was the catalyst for their creation.
Jigoro Kano, founder of judo, came from a wealthy family. As a teenager, he was sent to an English boarding school in a nearby Tokyo suburb, where a culture of bullying was common among students of elite families. As a result, Kano sought out a jujutso dojo at which to train in self-defence techniques.
Go forward half a century to Brazil. Carlos Gracie is late to a Judo class that he was supposed to teach (referred to back then as Kano Jutjutsu). His younger brother Helio is on hand and offers to teach the class in his absence. Helio is familiar with the techniques, but due to his small stature has trouble performing them in practice.
From that day forth Helio sets out to develop what he feels is a more complete fighting method that involves the whole body and is designed to let the little guy come out on top.
Judo v Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
Despite his unimposing size in the ring, Helio fought in 20 professional matches, mostly against heavier opponents, and only lost twice. To Judo moves, Helio added chokeholds, joint-locks and other holds to gain mo
re leverage once the opponent was already on the ground.
The biggest difference in these sports lies in the strategy behind them.
In judo, you want to get your opponent on the ground and pin them down through a series of low grapples in order to immobilise them. Once you get your adversary off balance, they can no longer counter your technique. This makes for a very effective self-defence strategy.
Brazilian jiu-jitsu is full-contact sport. In BJJ the fight only really begins at ground level, in fact some fighters might opt to be thrown down themselves if it means they can take their opponent down with them. Once down, an extensive series of techniques can be employed to win the fight.
Although both of these fighting styles originate from the same place, the self-defence strategies they employ could not be more different. Both are extremely effective, and should be practiced by anyone looking to gain physical strength while mastering the ability to outmanoeuvre an opponent’s attacks.