Thursday, July 08, 2010

Judo vs. BJJ


So, the commonly heard axiom is that BJJ derived from judo but evolved a much more advanced ground game while Judo developed a much more advanced standing game. I think that's mostly too simple a distinction to be useful - judo also has very advanced groundwork and BJJ also has a stand-up game that is in some ways superior to that of judo.
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.Studying BJJ (admitedly mostly from video and book) I can honestly say that I have not seen much BJJ that I'd not already learned in judo except for leglocks and omoplata. Perhaps it's just my particular judo background. Coming up through the ranks, our club seemed to spend much more time than average on the ground. Also, nearly all of us that were studying judo were also concurrently studying aikido or hapkido or jujitsu, so it could just be that what I associate in my mind as 'normal judo' is closer to BJJ than it is to mainstream judo.
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I think that what BJJ (and especially Gracie JJ) really has going for it that judo does not have is excellent, excellent instructors. While there are some good judo instructors out there, there are also a lot of regional champions teaching wannabe-champions 1-2 throws and working on conditioning to try to prepare them to use their power to thrive in competition environments. It seems to me that because of their excellent pedagogy, an average BJJ instructor could probably teach a pencil-necked geek more in less time than an average judo instructor could.
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With all that said, here's a quick point-by-point comparison of a few of the differences between judo and BJJ. Bear in mind that these are simple trends - individual clubs can vary a good bit from these ideas.
  • Throws vs. takedowns - Judo players value the perfect throw (ippon) because judo rules reward the perfect throw. BJJ rules do not reward the perfect throw differently than the merely-okay takedown, so BJJ players are generally free to use a wider variety of entries into groundwork. This does not make either art better - it's just a difference. If you want to see larger, higher-impact, more technically perfect throwing techniques, look at judo. If you want to see easier-to-perform, more functional, lower-impact entries into the ground, look at BJJ.
  • Different competition rulesets - BJJ has a more practical, more fun ruleset for competitions - The judo ruleset has been modified to a shameful degree over the years, diluting the virility of the art and reducing interest in the sport. The BJJ ruleset is remarkably like early judo rulesets, and has remained mostly unchanged - resulting in an explosion in popularity and interest in the sport.
  • Inductive vs. deductive - Judo seems to me to be generally more deductive, while BJJ is more inductive. Judo starts with a handful of principles and deduces the techniques through randori. BJJ teaches lots of techniques, one for every conceivable situation, and leaves the student to induce the general principles through experience in live rolling. Both eventually get to the same state. Both end up with nearly identical sets of techniques. The same principles are at work in both arts. But they approach the development of the art in the student from different directions.
Want more info on the differences between judo and jujitsu?  Mastering Jujitsu (Mastering Martial Arts Series) is one of the best books I've ever read on how BJJ and GJJ evolved differently from judo and why they do things the way they do in BJJ.
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1 comment:

  1. So in other words, to a beginner they're more or less the same, so you shouldn't dwell on picking one or the other. Just pick one and go! And if you get really into it, you can decide later on if you want to "specialize" in BJJ or judo.

    Fred | London Fight Factory

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