Saturday, October 04, 2008

Basically Just Judo

Some years back, Dave Chesser posted an article in which he suggested that the acronym BJJ, which a lot of people mistakenly think means Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, actually means Basically Just Judo.  I laughed my proverbial asterisk off - particularly after asserting for so long that Judo and BJJ are just competitive brand names for the same thing.
The other day I managed to dig up a copy of a book I've been looking for a long time, Feldenkrais' Higher Judo Groundwork!  Fantastic book!  Following are a couple of pictures from this book, published in 1952, showing some judo moves that a lot of folks think of as distinctively BJJ.
First we have a minor takedown that is allowed and used in BJJ contests but is disallowed in Judo and is derisively known by some as 'buttflopping' (watch out for some mildly offensive language if you follow that otherwise hilarious link).  Feldenkrais presents this as a good way to take the contest to the ground if it is allowed in the rules. Note, please, that if any of you smartaleks ever do this to me or do this in my club, get ready for a ride you'll wish you hadn't signed up for. Feldenkrais' variant of pulling guard shown here is extremely dangerous and places uke at a great risk of breaking his ankle.  But it is judo per Feldenkrais' 1952 book - not just BJJ.

Secondly, we have  a guard pass into a leglock.  Again, commonly thought of as the domain of BJJ.  Wrong again.  This stuff is judo - it is just disallowed in judo shiai and usually in randori - partly for safety, but partly just to allow emphasis to be placed on other stuff so you can become better in a smaller technical range.
Anyway, there is nothing at all wrong with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.  If you can find a good instructor for a good price near you, then by all means, roll with them - it is a great way to learn judo!


  1. Glad you liked the Basically Just Judo post. :)

    Rhadi's description of BJJ and judo just being too different rulesets for groundwork strikes me as correct. I don't see them as different things, but they do have different cultures. and these two arts now have a lot to learn form each other.

    But seriously doesn't 10 years to get a BB for what is essentially ne-waza seem a bit extreme? Ten years and they don't even have throwing?

  2. I've heard the alternative before... I think over in the forums on Judoinfo, if I'm not mistaken. It's funny, but from what I've read, modern judo and BJJ are two sides of a coin. We have several judoka who crosstrain in BJJ with us. We benefit from them as they benefit from us.

  3. I think you hit the nail on the head, Steve, when you said, "We benefit from them as they benefit from us." That is, you hit it on the head by not saying, "BJJ has something judo lacks or vice versa."

    Having a variety of training partners who think about the game differently than you do benefits everyone. I don't think crosstraining "BJJ" benefits judoka or vice versa as much as does just rolling with different people.

    The names, "BJJ" and "Judo" are not magical incantations that make people cooler and stronger.

    Modern judo (like modern karate per Dan Paden) sort of seems like a bastard son of a second cousin of 1950's Kodokan judo. In a lot of ways, BJJ, instead of being something new and innovative, seems closer to the old judo (the judo of Feldenkrais and Kawaishi et al. for instance) than is modern olympic judo. As such, it is a wonderful thing and deserves study.

    But it is still just judo. ;-)

  4. But then, by your own logic isn't Judo really just jujutsu? :)

  5. Exactly right - judo and BJJ are brand names for jujitsu just like Cannon and Xerox are brand names of copiers.

  6. I love that. We had Rener Gracie at Windsong last night and there were few things he had shown us that I had not seen before in Judo..however there was a different ideology/approach to them. I think Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (it's spelled how they pronounce it instead of Ju Jutsu for gentle art) discounts the value of ashi and nage waza. All great stuff though. It's the Olympic and MMA/UFC stuff that takes away from these arts.

  7. (BJJ) is a martial art, combat sport, and a self defense system that focuses on grappling and especially ground fighting. Brazilian jiu-jitsu was formed from Kodokan Judo ground fighting (Ne-Waza) fundamentals that were taught to Luiz França and Carlos Gracie by master Mitsuyo Maeda. Brazilian jiu-jitsu eventually came to be its own art through the experimentations, practices, and adaptation from the Judo knowledge of Carlos and Hélio Gracie, who then passed their knowledge on to their extended family. - Fromthe intro tothewikipedia article on bjj.

    Judo alone isn't going to hold up against a bjj player, the bjj player has a million more weapons. Grappling tournaments are open to any grappler. If a judo player wins, they don't make it anywhere past the blue belt divisions


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