Types of Jiu-Jitsu Styles: All You Need To know

Have you ever wondered how a smaller person can defend themselves against a larger opponent? If so, welcome to the world of Jiu-Jitsu. It is a martial art that originated in Japan and later evolved in Brazil. Jiu-Jitsu prioritizes skill and leverage over brute strength and is often called ‘gentle art’ because it focuses on ground fighting and submission techniques.

Jiu-Jitsu is not just about physical strength; it is a strategic game of human chess. It involves joint locks, chokes, and the art of positional control, making it both a compelling sport and a practical self-defense system. Whether you’re interested in the sportive challenge or the self-defense aspect, Jiu-Jitsu offers something for everyone.

In this article, we will explore the different styles of Jiu-Jitsu, each with its unique focus and techniques. From traditional forms to modern adaptations, join us as we dive into the diverse and intriguing world of Jiu-Jitsu.

Types of Jiu-Jitsu Martial Arts

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There are various types of Jiu-Jitsu, each with a distinct style and emphasis. Below are some examples and their characteristics.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

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Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) is a martial art primarily focusing on ground fighting and submission holds. It was derived from the Japanese martial art of Judo, which was introduced to Brazil by Mitsuyo Maeda in the early 20th century.

Maeda, also known as Count Koma, studied under Jigoro Kano, the founder of Judo. He taught his techniques in Brazil to the Gracie family, who further developed and popularized the art.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu emphasizes leverage and technique over strength and size, making it suitable for people of all ages and body types. It has become integral to mixed martial arts (MMA) and is widely practiced worldwide.

The art continues to evolve and adapt, with different styles and variations developed over time. Today, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is renowned for its effectiveness in self-defense and its competitive nature, with tournaments held at various levels, from local to international.

BJJ Techniques and Strategies

Jiu-Jitsu is a martial art that encompasses various techniques and strategies. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) is one of the most popular forms of Jiu-Jitsu, known for its emphasis on ground fighting and submissions.

However, several other types of Jiu-Jitsu focus on different aspects of the art. For instance, Japanese Jiu-Jitsu incorporates strikes, throws, and joint locks, while Judo emphasizes throws and grappling techniques.

Additionally, variations of Jiu-Jitsu are specific to certain regions or schools, such as Gracie Jiu-Jitsu and Machado Jiu-Jitsu. Each type of Jiu-Jitsu has its unique set of techniques and strategies, but they all share the common goal of using leverage and technique to overcome larger opponents.

Jiu-Jitsu practitioners aim to neutralize opponents and gain the upper hand through sweeps, submissions, or controlling positions. With its focus on technique rather than brute strength, Jiu-Jitsu offers a versatile and practical approach to self-defense and combat.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Benefits

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu offers numerous benefits for both the mind and body. Here are some of the key advantages:

  • Improved physical fitness: Practicing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu provides a full-body workout that improves cardiovascular endurance, strength, flexibility, and coordination.
  • Self-defense skills: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu focuses on techniques that allow smaller, weaker individuals to defend themselves against larger opponents. Learning self-defense skills can boost confidence and provide a sense of security.
  • Stress relief: Engaging in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu can help reduce stress and anxiety. The intense physical activity and mental focus can serve as a form of meditation, promoting relaxation and mental well-being.
  • Improved problem-solving abilities: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu requires strategic thinking and adapting to different situations. Regular practice can enhance problem-solving skills and improve decision-making abilities.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu offers a holistic approach to physical fitness, self-defense, and mental well-being.

Japanese Jiu-Jitsu

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Japanese Jiu-Jitsu, also referred to as Jujutsu or Jujitsu, is a martial art that originated in Japan. It has a long and rich history that dates back to the feudal era.

Samurai warriors developed Jiu-Jitsu as a means of self-defense on the battlefield, using techniques that allowed a smaller and weaker individual to overcome a more extensive and stronger opponent through leverage and joint locks.

During the Edo period (1603-1868), Jiu-Jitsu flourished and was widely practiced by the samurai class. It was an essential part of their training, providing them with the necessary skills to protect themselves in close combat situations. Jiu-Jitsu techniques were kept secret and passed down through generations within certain families or schools.

In the late 19th century, Jiu-Jitsu gained international recognition when it was introduced to the West by Japanese masters. This led to the development of various styles and schools of Jiu-Jitsu, each with unique techniques and philosophies.

Today, Japanese Jiu-Jitsu continues to be practiced and evolved around the world. It is known for its practical self-defense techniques, emphasis on leverage and control, and holistic approach to personal development.

Whether practiced as a competitive sport, a form of exercise, or a means of self-defense, Jiu-Jitsu remains an integral part of martial arts history and a testament to the ingenuity and resilience of the samurai warriors.

Related: Does Japanese Jiu-Jitsu Have Belts? (Explained)

Jujutsu Techniques and Principles

Traditional Jiu-Jitsu focuses on throws, joint locks, chokes, off-balancing, strikes, and other techniques. These techniques allow a smaller and weaker person to defend themselves against a more extensive and stronger opponent.

The principles of leverage, timing, and technique are emphasized in traditional Jiu-Jitsu training. Grappling is a crucial aspect of the art, with practitioners aiming to control and subdue their opponents through holds and submissions.

Traditional Jiu-Jitsu also incorporates self-defense techniques, including escapes from common attacks such as grabs and holds. Traditional Jiu-Jitsu provides a comprehensive self-defense system and sports competition techniques.

Philosophy of Japanese Jiu-Jitsu

Japanese Jiu-Jitsu philosophy uses an opponent’s energy and movements against them. It emphasizes the importance of technique and leverage rather than relying solely on physical strength.

Respect is crucial in Japanese Jiu-Jitsu, as practitioners are taught to respect their instructors, training partners, and art. The training methods in Japanese Jiu-Jitsu include throws, joint locks, strikes, and grappling techniques.

These techniques are practiced through katas (pre-arranged forms) and randori (free-style practice). Japanese Jiu-Jitsu teaches self-defense skills, promoting self-discipline, self-confidence, and mental focus. It is a holistic martial art that combines physical and mental development.

Related: Learn the good and bad sides of Brazilian and Japanese jiu-jitsu below. This will help you choose which discipline is best for you. Click here to learn more!

Gracie Jiu-Jitsu

The Gracie family is well-known for their contribution to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) and their essential role in its development and popularization.

In the early 20th century, Carlos Gracie, the family’s patriarch, was introduced to Jiu-Jitsu by Mitsuyo Maeda, a Japanese judoka, which led him and his brothers, including Helio Gracie, to dedicate themselves to mastering and refining the techniques of Jiu-Jitsu.

Their approach to Jiu-Jitsu focused on leverage and technique rather than brute strength, revolutionizing the martial art and making it accessible to people of all sizes and physical abilities.

Gracie Jiu-Jitsu’s approach has become synonymous with self-defense and has been adopted by law enforcement agencies and military organizations worldwide.

Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, also called Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, is a combat sport focusing on ground fighting and submission. It is widely recognized for its practical self-defense applications, making it popular among individuals who want to learn practical techniques for real-life situations.

Gracie Jiu-Jitsu vs. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

It’s essential to understand the difference between Gracie Jiu-Jitsu and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Gracie Jiu-Jitsu is a martial art developed by the Gracie family in Brazil, emphasizing leverage and technique to overcome larger opponents in ground fighting and submission holds, emphasizing self-defense.

On the other hand, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a more modern and sport-oriented version of Jiu-Jitsu that incorporates elements of wrestling and judo.

While both styles share many similarities, they have distinct philosophies and training methods, with Gracie Jiu-Jitsu placing a greater emphasis on self-defense and practical applications. At the same time, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu emphasizes competition and sport.

Regardless of the style, Jiu-Jitsu is known for its effectiveness and practicality in real-life situations.

No-Gi Jiu Jitsu

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No-Gi Jiu-Jitsu is a popular form of martial arts that has gained significant traction recently. It offers a dynamic approach to traditional Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) by eliminating the need for a conventional uniform or gi.

This allows practitioners to focus on grappling techniques and agility, making the sport more fast-paced and fluid.

The fundamental difference between No-Gi and traditional BJJ is the absence of the gi. This aspect contributes to a faster and more agile style of combat that emphasizes holds, joint locks, and chokes that can be executed seamlessly without the grips provided by a gi.

Benefits of No-Gi Jiu-Jitsu Training

Participating in No-Gi Jiu Jitsu enhances physical fitness and nurtures mental discipline. This form of martial arts training promotes quick thinking, adaptability, and strategic planning, fostering a resilient mindset essential for self-improvement.

Techniques and Fundamentals of No-Gi Jiu-Jitsu

To become proficient in No-Gi Jiu Jitsu, practitioners must master fundamental techniques such as takedowns, escapes, and submissions. These essential moves, such as guard pass, mount, and side control, are the foundation of a solid ground game that enables effective offense and defense strategies.

In addition to the basics, advanced practitioners explore intricate techniques, including leg locks, arm drags, and butterfly sweeps, that require precise timing, agility, and strategic thinking. A deep understanding of body mechanics and leverage is necessary to execute these advanced moves effectively.


Jiu-Jitsu is a martial art and combat sport emphasizing ground fighting and submission. It evolved from the Japanese martial art of Judo, which Jigoro Kano developed to emphasize the importance of technique and leverage over brute strength.

In the early 20th century, Mitsuyo Maeda, a student of Kano, introduced Judo to the Gracie family in Brazil. Carlos Gracie further developed the techniques and adapted them for smaller individuals, emphasizing ground fighting, which marked the birth of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. 

Over the years, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has evolved and branched into different styles and variations. Each style has unique characteristics and training methods, but they all share the common goal of using leverage and technique to overcome size and strength.

BJJ is ideal for competition and sportive aspects, while Japanese Jiu-Jitsu may be a better fit if self-defense is your main priority. No-Gi Jiu-Jitsu is a good option if you prefer a faster-paced and more dynamic training style. Trying different classes is the best way to find the right style for you.

Recommended: Enter the world of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and learn the distinct advantages of Gi and No-Gi training. Click here to learn about the main distinctions between BJJ Gi and No-Gi and which style is best for MMA or self-defense.

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