Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) is a martial art and combat sport that emphasises ground grappling, with free sparring being an important training method. The aim is generally to use a variety of grappling holds to advance in positioning, and to finally obtain a submission hold.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is usually practiced in a gi very similar or identical to a judogi (called kimono in Brazil), but non-gi training is also part of the training regimen in many BJJ schools, especially those with MMA tendencies such as UQ BJJ, and is sometimes referred to as ‘submission wrestling’. BJJ is well known for its effectiveness in mixed martial arts/no holds barred fighting. It was made famous by Royce Gracie in the 1993 Ultimate Fighting Championship.


Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is an orthogonal development of pre-1925 Kodokan Judo. It arrived in Brazil when Mitsuyo Maeda, a Japanese Judoka, first introduced it during his visit to Brazil with the hopes of establishing a Japanese colony in the country. It was further developed by the Gracie family during the mid-20th century.

The most important factor that differentiated Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu from Judo and Japanese Jujitsu was that BJJ put extreme focus on ground fighting. While Japanese Jujitsu and Judo do incorporate training in ground fighting (newaza), no Japanese schools put as much emphasis on ground techniques as is done in BJJ. Such training regime is responsible for the great advances in ground fighting introduced by Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu encourages “randori” or free sparring against a live, resisting opponent. Thus, students have an opportunity to test their skills and develop them under realistic conditions, with minimal risk of injury.


Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu emphasises ground-fighting techniques and submission holds involving joint-locks and chokeholds. The premise is that most of the advantage of a larger, stronger opponent comes from superior reach and more powerful strikes, both of which are largely negated if wrestling on the ground. Once an opponent is on the ground, a number of manoeuvres (and counter-manoeuvres) are available to manipulate the opponent into suitable position for the application of a submission hold. This system of manoeuvring and manipulation can be likened to a form of kinetic chess when utilised by two experienced practitioners. A submission hold is the equivalent of checkmate.

Submission holds can be grouped into two broad categories: joint locks and chokes. Joint locks typically involve isolating an opponent’s limb and creating a lever with your own body position which will force the joint to move past its normal range of motion.

Alternatively, one could apply a choke hold, disrupting the blood supply to the brain, causing unconsciousness if the opponent refuses to tap out. Most BJJ “chokes” involve constriction of the carotid artery (causing hypoxia). This differs from the more instinctive choking movements which generally involve constriction of the windpipe (causing asphyxia). Though this distinction may at first seem subtle it is in fact significant, with air chokes being highly inefficient and may result in damage to the opponent’s trachea, sometimes even resulting in death. In contrast, blood chokes directly cut the flow of blood off to the opponent’s brain causing a rapid shutdown of consciousness without damaging the internal structure.

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.

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