The Meaning Behind Jiu Jitsu

So Jiu Jitsu is a popular martial art that has been around for a very long time. It has been tested by time and it has survived because it is very effective in combat and competitions. Numerous people have become masters of this art and it is no wonder that many people are searching to the meaning behind the word Jiu Jitsu.

Jiu Jitsu came from two Japanese words ju (柔) that means gentle, yielding or soft and jutsu (術) which means technique or art. In short, it is a gentle art because it was originally made by monks to defend themselves from enemies in a gentle non-violent way.

Jiu Jitsu has been developed from there until what it is today with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu which is very famous for ground fighting, Judo which is focused on strikes and throwing. Even Russians took made their own based on Jiu Jitsu and called it Sambo. What does Jiu Jitsu mean? What is the history behind it? Let’s find them out in this article.

What does Jiu Jitsu mean

There are lots of interesting things about Jiu Jitsu. Its meaning and why there are lots of variation. But first, let us define what Jiu Jitsu really is.

Jiu Jitsu is an art of gentile fighting in which the user uses the enemies’ strength against himself. Its main goal is to use their enemies’ force against his or her own instead of using their own strength. Historically speaking, It has been made as a tool to fight even if you are at a disadvantage.

That is why it is considered one of the best today. It has been made as a martial art you can use even if you are at a disadvantage such as when samurai used this technique in the days where they have to fight without their sword.

Nowadays, people who are smaller and weaker uses Jiu Jitsu so that it can make enemies who are way bigger than them give up by doing a series of techniques immobilizing the enemy.

Because of its long history, there came a lot of variations of Jiu Jitsu. Notable among these are Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Judo, and even the traditional Jiu Jitsu is still around today.

What are the types of Jiu Jitsu

There are many types of Jiu Jitsu, variations from the original and specializations from its techniques. Here are some of the notable types of Jiu Jitsu you might have heard of.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Traditional Jiu Jitsu, and Judo is still being widely practiced today. All of these are Jiu Jitsu and their main difference comes from the difference in their specialization and usage.

While traditional Jiu Jitsu maintained all of the skills and techniques Jiu Jitsu has to offer, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Judo went specialized in a certain field.

This is because naturally, martial arts change according to the person’s needs.

For example, the need for a weaponless fighting came from a period when Japan is in the neo-confucianism era in which armor and weapons are not allowed to be carried around.

Thus, people came to find a martial art that can be done without any weapon. A way to defend themselves unarmed. Thus Jiu Jitsu became popular.

But what specifically is the difference between Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Traditional Jiu Jitsu and Judo? Let’s find more.

What’s the difference between Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Traditional Jiu Jitsu and Judo?

As a general rule, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu focuses on ground fighting, choking and joint locking. Judo focuses more on throwing, striking and standing techniques. Japanese Jiu Jitsu on the other hand are more balanced between the two.

Here is a table summarizing their difference.

Type of Jiu JitsuDifference
Traditional Jiu JitsuBalanced in Stand Fighting Techniques and Ground Fighting Techniques
JudoFocuses more on Standing Techniques and Throws
Brazilian Jiu JitsuFocuses more on Ground Techniques, Choking and Joint Locking
Table difference between Traditional Jiu Jitsu, Judo and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

Remember that is just to summarize, there are different schools of each martial art, and they are a little different from each other.

For example, some Brazilian Jiu Jitsu teach standing techniques and some don’t do it and just focus on ground attacks. There are lots of variations on this and the table should only serve as a quick summary.

Japanese Jiu Jitsu is also considered the Traditional Jiu Jitsu because historically speaking, it is the original form of Jiu Jitsu. It is what samurai warriors have used during their period to protect themselves when they are caught unarmed by an enemy.

Traditional Jiu Jitsu is very effective that has been around for a long time until the time for the two other branches to come out.

However, take note that traditional Jiu Jitsu is still widely popular today and even if others have branched out, it still remains strong until today.

I have an article explaining the difference between Traditional Jiu Jitsu and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in another article. It is more in depth and if you are interested, you may see it here: Traditional Jiu Jitsu vs Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

What is the History Behind the Types of Jiu Jitsu

Now let us have a quick summary on the history of the martial art.

Jiu Jitsu actually started not in Japan. Although, it has been famous there. Thus, the traditional Jiu Jitsu is also called Japanese Jiu Jitsu.

The Truth is it is said that it came from Northern India which was about 4,000 years ago.

It was developed by monks during that period to defend themselves.

This is because they are monks and most if not all of them are unarmed.

Also, monks are focused on not inflicting damage to others.

This technique which is now Jiu Jitsu has been made so that they can first, to defend themselves against armed attackers. Second, is that so they won’t hurt their enemies since they are using the enemies’ force against them.

This originally is an unarmed martial art that focuses on not inflicting pain to others. It is mostly just used for immobilizing enemies.

That is also why their techniques work even if you are smaller than your enemies. In Jiu Jitsu, the size and strength of the enemies don’t matter much compared to other martial arts. Whta’s more important is the person’s skill.

Such an effective way of fighting can’t remain unknown because it is a very effective fighting technique, it was adopted to Japan as a way for samurai warriors to defend themselves.

The Samurai are trained with their sword but they have a weakness. They can’t really fight well without it. Thus, Jiu Jitsu has been instilled in them so they can still defend themselves without their sword.

The Popularity of Jiu Jitsu went more as the Neo Confucianism era came. In this era, the concept of not inflicting harm to others became really popular. This means that weapons are generally not allowed to be carried around.

This means that the people can really be in danger once an armed person comes to attack.

Thus, Jiu Jitsu came and people learned the martial art. It became very popular.

In 1882, Kano Jigoro Shihan made a branch called “Judo” and in 1889 brought Judo to Europe. It became a unique way of fighting that uses throws and using the enemies’ strength against themselves. Thus, it also became famous.

As more globalization happened, Jiu Jitsu also came to Brazil where it evolved to be more focused on ground attacks.

It was proven that the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has been very effective and the technique became widely popular after the UFC fight in 1993 where Brazilian Jiu Jitsu showed its strength when Royce Gracie defeated 3 martial arts in the competition.

That is a short and important history of Jiu Jitsu. Remember that even BJJ is now very famous, other forms and the original one is still around today and perhaps for more generations to come.

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Welcome to my recommended list of Jiu-Jitsu gear.

In this section, you are going to see my recommended Jiu-Jitsu gears both for beginners and pros.

Grappling Shorts

When getting some grappling shorts, you first need to understand that the thing we are looking for in grappling shorts is the ones that will provide flexibility.

This means that we are not looking at designs but what we are looking for is how comfortable it is and if you can do a full range of motions while wearing the shorts.

If that’s the case, I recommend an IBJJF approved grappling short which has no pockets that can interfere with rolls, and most importantly, allows a full range of motion. This can help you in rolls since you need to have fluid motions to do some maneuvers.

Here is the link for the product: BJJ Shorts

Grappling Spats

Grappling spats are a great alternative to Grappling shorts and are sometimes used in conjunction with Grappling shorts.

The reason for using a Grappling spat is to prevent friction.

Remember that BJJ is focused on rolls, locks, and takedowns. This is prone to friction that can cause injuries such as burns and mat cuts.

In choosing a good pair of grappling spats, you need to take note that it is important that it is also flexible so you can easily do some full-range motions while rolling.

Furthermore, since you will be covering your whole legs with it, it is important for it to absorb some sweat while still being comfortable for the wearer.

If that’s the case, I recommend these Grappling Spats which are very stretchable making them good for fluid motion. Furthermore, it is well made to handle friction which prevents any unwanted injuries.

Lastly, its cloth is breathable which means that it is very comfortable for your skin.

Here is the link for the product: Grappling Spats


Think of a rash guard as the grappling spat for the upper body.

Rashguard helps in preventing friction that can cause injuries such as mat cuts and burns.

When finding one, it is important to find a comfortable rash guard which is breathable. Furthermore, have one that allows a full range of motion.

Thus, I recommend this rash guard which does all of the functions I’ve said: Rashguard

Knee and Elbow Pads

Personally, I am a victim of a knee injury. That’s why I always tell people to use knee and elbow pads when doing some physically intensive activities such as BJJ.

Because of my injuries, I can’t really last long with any sort of long physical activity.

So, while it is often neglected, I believe that Knee and Elbox pads are important.

Good Knee and Elbow pads are supposed to be comfortable while still providing maximum protection to both your elbows and knees.

Thus, I recommend these safety gears:

Ear Protectors

There are lots of cauliflower ear incidents with BJJ practitioners.

Even if this is quite an unpopular safety gear, it is important as we are preventing friction that can come from rolls.

In choosing an ear protector, you do not need to get something that protects you from strikes. Striking is usually not allowed.

So, what’s important is to find something that is very lightweight and protects you from friction.

If that’s the case, then you may opt for this which is really useful and won’t look weird on rolls: Ear Guards

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