Adventures in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

For the past 2 weeks I’ve been going on Monday evenings to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu classes taught by Paul’s cousin Micah. And I’m really enjoying it.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is different from a lot of martial arts because it is focused on grappling on the ground- what you do when you take an opponent down, or when you are taken off your feet.

Micah loaned me a DVD of no-rules fighting and it was interesting to watch how practitioners of Kung Fu, Aikido, Thai Kickboxing, and even straight Boxing, were utterly defenceless once brought to ground. The wrestlers and Judo practitioners fared a bit better.

Naturally, the on-the-ground approach is especially beneficial for women in terms of self defence. Similarly important is the fact that Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is also more about technique instead of the use of strength. Smaller weaker fighters should be able to defeat any size opponent in this manner because Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu isn’t about punching and kicking your opponent senseless. Striking is virtually non existent.

This said I’ve yet to see evidence of technique proving superior to strength in my grappling with Paul. Although I can put up a decent fight, he can generally resist my application of certain grips. The height difference can also be a bit of a problem. For example, it’s impossible for me to sneak up and apply a choke hold when he is standing because I can’t get my arms around his throat.

Paul started taking classes with me last week, so now at least I have a beginner grappling partner I’m happy to straddle and roll around with on a regular basis. As well as practice with between classes. Not that it’s bad grappling with other guys in the class (they’re all nice guys). While you forget about your intimately entwined positions while grappling, it still is a bit weird the first time you mount, or are mounted, by a stranger.

Anyway, here’s a picture of Paul’s cousin in action…

In terms of some other basic information on Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, I sucked the following extracts off the web; mostly from the following site:


A Japanese judoka, prizefighter, and former member of the Kodokan named Mitsuyo Maeda emigrated to Brazil in the 1910s where a local influential businessman named Gastão Gracie helped him get established. In return for his aid, Maeda taught judo to Gastão's son Carlos, who then taught the art to his brothers, including Hélio Gracie. Through their own study and development, Carlos and Hélio are regarded as the originators of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu as a style distinct from Judo.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu became internationally prominent in the martial arts community in the 1990s, when Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu expert Royce Gracie won several single elimination martial arts tournaments called Ultimate Fighting Championships against sometimes much larger opponents who were practicing other styles.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu vs Judo

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu inherited its emphasis on using leveraged counterpoise, and the opponent's own weight, as well as a majority of its technique from Kodokan Judo. However, there has been considerable divergence since that time as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu evolved. Some argue that the differences are more in culture and moral goals than in the physical principles and techniques of the two arts.

The main difference is that Judo, especially in its Olympic sport form, emphasizes throws, while Jiu-Jitsu emphasizes submission of the opponent using joint locks or chokes. Judo has a much higher amount of referee intervention; in Judo matches, the competitors are often returned to the standing position, while in Jiu-Jitsu matches, the participants are generally allowed to remain on the ground while working for a submission.

The main emphasis in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is to dominate the opponent through skillful application of technique and force them to quit (submit). By using the techniques of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, a smaller practitioner, male or female, can control much larger and stronger opponents and actually force the larger opponent to submit…

One of the things that separates Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu from other martial arts is the importance of competition. Sparring is considered essential to a student's progression. This is a "live" martial art where one can go 100% in training without fear of injuring his or her opponent. Many say that this constant training against live, fully resisting opponents sets it apart from other traditional martial arts.


A system of five different colored belts is used for ranks within Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. In order from first to last they are: white, blue, purple, brown, black. To be promoted to the next highest belt, it takes an average of 2-4 years of continuous practice and improvement. To obtain a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu one can expect a minimum of ten years of dedication.

Near the end of the belt there is a black bar (red bar for black belts). That bar is used for the placement of stripes. Stripes are a system of merit within each belt. Generally they are awarded based on time spent training. It's customary to have at least four stripes on your belt before you are ready to move up to the next belt level.


Quickend said…
Glad your enjoying it :D
I'm thinking about returning to wu shu but not 100% sure yet :P

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