What is Jiu Jitsu?

what is jiu jitsu

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At this point, the growing popularity of the sport of jiu-jitsu has reached the masses! Something that has not caught quite as much wind as the name is the fact of how transformative the sport really is! We have you covered here in this article talking about what jiu-jitsu is, where it originated, and why everyone uses it as a self-defense tool!

The word “jiu-jitsu” derives from the Japanese “Jū” meaning “gentle” and “Jutsu” meaning “art”; essentially, jiu-jitsu is “gentle art”. 


Jiu-Jitsu is a ground-based martial art, that uses leverage, angles, pressure, timing, and knowledge of the human anatomy to achieve a non-violent submission of one’s opponent. Jiu-jitsu is a grappling art that shows progress in the form of belts like other popular martial arts such as karate, judo, and taekwondo.

Unlike other martial arts that focus on strikes and/or kicks, jiu-jitsu’s main focus is on close-contact grappling holds, techniques, and the application of chokes and joint manipulations.


The Brazilian style of jiu-jitsu resulted from the import of Japanese jiu-jitsu and judo to the South American continent in the early 1900s. Its origins trace back to Japan and morphed into what it is today by the early Brazilian pioneers.


japan origins - what is jiu jitsu

The martial art is believed to go back thousands of years. There are several theories on its very first beginnings, but many agree that it can at least be traced back 4,000 years ago, to Buddhist monks in India, who needed to protect themselves during their travels without inflicting harm on their attackers.

In 1915, a world-famous Japanese judoka, Mitsuyo Maeda, arrived in Brazil, where he soon began teaching and giving demonstrations in jiu-jitsu and judo. Three of Maeda’s first students went on to become the founders of what is known as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu: brothers Carlos and Helio Gracie, and Luiz França. Each of these early pioneers contributed to the development of what is today known as Brazilian jiu-jitsu(BJJ), by maximizing the effectiveness of existing techniques, creating new ones, and giving rise to a distinct martial art.

It wasn’t long before the Brazilian style of jiu-jitsu started to spread to other countries and continents. BJJ arrived in the United States in the early 1970s but grew relatively slowly until the 1990s when the UFC brought mixed martial arts – and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu – to the mainstream public. In 2002, Carlos Gracie, Jr. founded the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation, which began holding organized jiu-jitsu competitions worldwide.

In the last decade, the sport has boomed, and today, many of the world’s largest and most prestigious tournaments are held in the United States.

All BJJ practitioners can trace their “lineage” back to one of the founding members. Professor JT’s lineage can be traced back to Carlos and Helio Gracie.


We have written many articles on the benefits of training jiu-jitsu at this point. Truly, it is more than just a workout, BJJ is often referred to as “human chess” in that it exercises both the body and the mind.

human chess jiu jitsu

Self Defense

No martial art exists (maybe outside of boxing) that will prepare you for a real-world situation like Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. They do not get nearly as many live sparring sessions in as you do!

Everyone has a different reason why they originally get into the sport but many do get into it for self-defense. I know that is why we originally jumped in but our reasoning behind saying has morphed.


Working out at the gym is just boring these days. You drink candy-flavored pre-workouts and go through the motions just to look nice. Lifting weights is still an important part of our exercise routine but we quickly realized that it is not enough.

We were lifting weights and getting very strong before we started Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and one incident proved that no matter how much I lifted if a fight broke out I was going to freeze up.

What’s the point of getting “swoll” if you cannot protect yourself or your family if there is danger? We have gotten into the best shape of our lives and have gotten more compliments on how our body looks when training than we ever did just lifting weights!

Mental Game

The part that makes jiu-jitsu extremely addicting is the mental aspect of the sport. It is human chess and until you experience it first hand you will not know how fun it is to roll around.

The sport is an art form so there is always something to be learned. After the first couple of months of getting beat up, you start seeing yourself progress and improve. You learn very quickly what to do and what not to do when you start applying the techniques learned in fundamentals class to the intermediate live rolls!

Different Styles of Jiu-Jitsu Practiced Around the World

The two main styles of Brazilian jiu-jitsu are Gi and No-Gi. The name of the styles pretty much tell you what you need to know. While training jiu-jitsu you will be training in a uniform known as a Gi (kimono) that is really set to replicate a thick jacket and a pair of pants. This style (in our opinion) is the most fun because the number of moves you can pull off in this style is exponential compared to when you are out of the Gi.


future kimonos gi

Future Kimonos Rash Guards and Gi's

future kimonos gi
5 Star Design
5 Star Feel

No-gi is widely popular because most people claim it is the “more realistic” version of BJJ. In this style, joint locks, takedowns, and submissions are going to be developed to high levels. In MMA, they fight without any kimono on, so they are just doing no-gi style with punches.

Whichever style you end up preferring (most people like one more than the other) you will end up learning various amount of techniques from your instructors. Jiu-jitsu practitioners worldwide quickly realize that martial art has true depth with all the various moves and styles of play being taught.

Grappling Sports

Brazilian jiu-jitsu is just one of many grappling-based martial arts that is practiced around the world. There are many different fighting styles that teach a whole new set of techniques. The two most popular grappling sports outside of Brazilian jiu-jitsu are wrestling and judo.

Judo is a grappling martial art based on throws and submissions. We have written articles about Judo and its differences (and similarities) to both BJJ and Wrestling.

Wrestling is probably by far one of the hardest sports in the world. Just spend time in wrestling practice and you will understand. If you have aspirations to become a top-notch fighter in the UFC, chances are you are going to have to master on of these three styles.

What is Jiu-Jitsu good for?

Brazilian jiu-jitsu is a martial art that was created for a smaller trained opponent can take on a much larger opponent in a self-defense scenario. Brazilian jiu-jitsu is a martial art that is best known for teaching practitioners excellent ways to execute ground fighting. majority of Brazilian jiu-jitsu is done either on your back or from a standing position, at some point in a fight you may end up on the ground (90% of the time) and that is when Brazilian jiu-jitsu is going to be most useful.

Outside of teaching you how to be a badass on the ground jiu-jitsu has a number of unspoken benefits for people outside of just getting into excellent shape. Your resilience, ability to handle pressure, discipline, and ability to do hard things will all be tested. For many people, this is a great way to completely change the framework of who you are.

The human body can do some amazing things and you truly haven’t lived till you figured out what yours is truly capable of. Close combat is a great way to get yourself out of your comfort zone.

Is Jiu-Jitsu hard for beginners?

The first 6 months of training jiu-jitsu are a true test for your mental fortitude. In this time you will figure out what you are made of and if you want to continue doing the gentle art known as Brazilian jiu-jitsu. It may not be a thing for everyone and that is okay but by no means is it easy to constantly put yourself in a situation to fail and have to get yourself back up to try all over again.

To answer the question in a simpliar way, jiu-jitsu is not easy for beginners. If you come in with some type of athletic background like you maybe wrestled or played some sports as a kid you may have an easier time learning moves in the beginning. If you do not have that type of experience you will have to build from the ground up.

It should be noted that Brazilian jiu-jitsu “shape” is not something you will walk in having.

This is a common excuse many people will use to stop themselves from jumping in. “Once I get into shape I will go and check it out” is the easiest cope out someone can say. The only way you can be in shape for jiu-jitsu is by getting on the mats and rolling with people, running may help but no one walks in 100% prepared.


We look at martial arts as a great tool to improve yourself as a human on many levels. Physically, mentally, and emotionally we have become stronger humans and have a burning desire to help people get into the sport.

The Grapplers Graveyard is helping forge exceptional humans with martial arts. We help martial artists become exceptional humans and athletes. We empower you to stand out from your peers by becoming extraordinary humans!

Strong men and women chose to level up their lives in many different ways but nothing will impact you more than BJJ.

Jiu-jitsu is a martial art that we believe can impact millions of more people across the world. We want to share what we have learned along the way and help guide those with the lessons and principles that we have learned while training on the mats.

Jiu-jitsu is just a hobby for me. Outside of this is still work a regular job and have interest that are outside of training and beating people up. Our goal is to build a portfolio of sites around our interests and talents, if you liked this article, please consider giving me a follow on Twitter!

Good Luck & Happy Rolling!

3 thoughts on “What is Jiu Jitsu?”

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