You may have heard of BJJ and know it is a fighting system based on ground fighting and submissions. However you may not be aware of the sport side of BJJ.
Is BJJ A Sport? Yes BJJ is both a martial art and a sport. The initial goal of BJJ was to defeat enemies in a combat or street fight situation. To increase the popularity of BJJ and help the martial art progress rules were established and BJJ competitions were created, establishing BJJ as a sport. Carlos Gracie founded the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation (IBJJF) in 1994 to oversee the sport of BJJ. In 1996 the first BJJ world championships were held in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.
BJJ is now one of the fastest growing sports in the world with thousands of active competitors from all over the world. The IBJJF is lobbying to have BJJ at the Olympics and a major step towards this was achieved in 2018 with BJJ being featured in the Asian Games held in Jakarta, Indonesia.
What Kind Of Sport Is BJJ?
BJJ is a grappling based combat sport. BJJ is similar to Judo with competitors wearing a White or Blue Gi and fighting with each other to establish control over a 5 minute period. Judo places a greater emphasis on throwing techniques whereas BJJ focuses more on submissions and ground fighting. BJJ has a point system based on the level of control you are able to exert over your opponent and also awards instant victory to competitors who are able to submit their opponents.
BJJ competitors typically compete within weight classes. BJJ competitions usually take the form of single elimination competitions with competitors often being required to win 4 to 6 matches to win a BJJ tournament.
BJJ primarily uses ATP and the Anaerobic System. The ATP system is only used for periods of time (10 seconds or less). This is the primary system which is used for violent, explosive movements such as takedowns and throws in BJJ
The Anaerobic System is responsible for energy supply for movements less than 5 minutes long. The Anaerobic System powers most of the general less explosive movements that BJJ athletes perform throughout their matches.
Is Sport BJJ Good For Self Defence?
Yes sport BJJ is good for self defence. sport BJJ teaches all the techniques in self defence BJJ and usually the standard of BJJ is higher in sport BJJ schools. In recent years as BJJ as a sport has become more popular and the focus has shifted away from BJJ’s martial arts roots there is a debate over whether BJJ is losing its effectiveness for self defence.
The rules for sport BJJ have resulted in the emergence of many popular techniques and strategies which are very effective in competitions but not good for self defence. The most famous is guard pulling which is where a BJJ competitor will voluntarily sit on the ground and try to establish contact with his opponent while being on the floor. This technique is effective in sport BJJ as many competitors are able to control their opponent from this position however this is largely due to the fact that strikes are not allowed in BJJ.
You do not see guard pulling being implemented in MMA fights which highlights it is not effective in self defence situations where strikes will be thrown. Due to the prevalence of guard pulling sport BJJ schools do not place much emphasis on takedown attacks and defence. Takedowns are of utmost importance in a street fight situation as all fights start standing and if you can’t take your opponent to the ground it will be very hard to utilise your BJJ skills in a self defence situation.
As there are no strikes in sport BJJ, BJJ competitors do not practice their techniques while they are being hit. As MMA has shown us, strikes do have a big impact. A Black Belt quickly becomes a Blue Belt after a few good punches to the face.
Even though sport BJJ has some serious limitations when it comes to application in street fights it is still effective. The techniques in sport BJJ and self defence Bjj are the same, you don’t need to be an olympic wrestler to takedown an untrained person in a street fight and sport BJJ techniques can be easily adapted to be effective for street fights.
However to ensure sport BJJ continues to be good for self defence sport BJJ practitioners should increase the time they spend training takedowns. They should be very comfortable taking someone down in a self defence situation. They should also train against people throwing strikes to ensure they can perform their BJJ techniques effectively while being punched and kicked.
Is BJJ A Real Martial Art?
Yes BJJ is a real martial art. Martial arts are systems of fighting used to defeat combatants. BJJ’s goal was always to be a real martial art that could be used in real life combat whether that was on the street or in a military environment. The founders of BJJ the Gracies were obsessed with ensuring BJJ remained a real martial art by continuing to test its effectiveness in fights against anyone. The Gracies had an open challenge to the world and invited anyone who wanted to test BJJ’s effectiveness to fight them.
The Gracies took part in many fighting competitions with the UFC being the most famous. To see whether BJJ is a real martial watch UFC 1 and the Gracie in action tapes to see the real world applicability of BJJ.
Is BJJ A Traditional Martial Art?
BJJ is a modern martial art which was derived from a traditional Japanese martial art known as Jujutsu. BJJ still retains many elements of a traditional martial art. BJJ has a belt system based on competency and skill. A white belt in BJJ is a beginner whereas a Black Belt is an expert. A picture of one of the founders of BJJ, Helio Gracie is hung in many BJJ academies with students bowing to Helio before and after training. BJJ practitioners wear a Gi which is based on traditional Japanese clothing. BJJ practitioners will often bow to each other.
BJJ students will refer to their instructor as sensei or professor as a sign of respect. Before and after class students will line up in order of rank and pay respect to their instructor and other students. During training higher ranked students have authority over lower ranked students and lower ranked students should make room for more advanced practitioners during sparring.
What Fighting Style Is BJJ?
BJJ is a grappling based fighting style. BJJ utilises a combination of takedowns, pins and submissions to control and defeat people. BJJ does not incorporate punches, kicks or any strikes. BJJ does not use weapons. As BJJ is a grappling style martial art it can only be employed at close contact in a range where the BJJ stylist can grab a hold of his opponent.
BJJ is a fighting style which focuses largely on ground fighting as the Gracies realised that the majority of fights end up on the ground and by taking a person to the ground the amount of damage they are able to inflict is greatly reduced due to the lack of power they can exert. The ideal use of BJJ is to establish control over your opponent through a takedown, then pin your opponent before finally sinking in a submission all without taking any damage.
BJJ started off a martial art which was focused on defeating larger opponents without sustaining damage. In an effort to popularise the martial art BJJ was turned into a sport with rules being established and regular competitions being held. BJJ now has competitions all over the world and athletes can make a living by competing for prize money. BJJ is now both a martial art and a sport.