Dropping the B from BJJ - by Budo Jake

Dropping the B from BJJ - by Budo Jake

Royce Gracie UFC

In the US, since the 90’s the art that I practice and teach has been called Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, or sometimes Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. Take off the gi and it might be called grappling, submission grappling, or nogi grappling.

Some will argue that Judo guys have been doing pretty much the same thing we BJJ guys have been doing, but for a lot longer. While I agree in part, most Judo clubs focus much more on stand up, and much less on the ground.

Kosen Judo 

(Photo: Old School Judo in Japan)

Back when the Rorion and other Gracies brought the art to the US, there were already small groups of Japanese Jujutsu practitioners here. For the most part, these groups were fairly small and didn’t offer much in terms of full resistance sparring. Often times, they were teaching kata (prescribed forms), similar to what modern day BJJ schools might do in their self-defense programs.

George Kirby Jujutsu

(Photo: George Kirby - an early Japanese Jujutsu teacher in the US, link to DVD)

Because these Japanese jujutsu groups were already in the US, we needed a name to differentiate the Brazilian counterparts, hence the name BJJ or Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. After seeing Royce in UFC 1 (live on PPV in my case), it was clear that BJJ was very different than Japanese Jujutsu.

During my first trip to Brazil I was surprised to learn that they don’t call it BJJ in their own country, it’s simply Jiu-Jitsu. Looking back, it makes sense. In Brazil they were continuing what they were taught (by Mitsuyo Maeda and other Japanese teachers). Back in those early days it seems there was much more focus on ground work, even in Japan.

 Jake & Terere

(Photo: Interviewing the legend Terere in Brazil. Link to episode.)

So that brings me to my question. BJJ has been spread far and wide in the US. Japanese Jujutsu has not fared as well. For many people,  laypeople and hardcore practitioners, Jiu-Jitsu = BJJ. When someone says “the current UFC champ has great Jiu-Jitsu no one is confusing that for the Japanese style. In my conversations I rarely use the B. I think it’s time we drop it. What do you think? Please drop a comment below and let me know!


26 comments

  • Felipe

    Ok now drop the B and a few months later add the “A” and create a new sport American Jiu Jitsu? BJJ it is an evolution and since ever no one is trying to hide the Japanese origin of the BJJ

  • Rener Moe

    I would suggest Brazilian Judo :-)

  • Olaf Steinbrecher

    With all due respect, but BJJ is NOT Jiu Jitsu. It is Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
    As David says; there is still Jiu Jitsu in it’s traditional form. And you simply can not compare BJJ to traditional Jiu Jitsu.
    Because these are two totally different things.
    And trust me; I love BJJ.
    But it is BJJ, not JJ.

  • Raimundo

    Dropping the B in BJJ is confusing too but I don’t have an answer either. I practice Jujutsu, sometimes called Ju Jitsu or Jiu Jitsu. My art is a Judo, Japanese Jujutsu-based art that focuses more on stand-up control scenarios, incorporating Wally Jay’s Small-Circle Jujitsu, Judo and some Brazilian ground fighting optimizations and compliments Karate and other fighting systems. It is my opinion that BJJ, at least in the sport version, is now a different art than Jujutsu. This is definitely apparent when discussing training, teaching and competition with those who expect BJJ-like behavior (moving to the ground as fast as possible, directly pulling guard, etc.). While I agree that BJJ and Japanese JJ have the same root and are both fun and beneficial in learning, the focus and strengths are different.

  • David

    The B or G remains necessary because Jujitsu still exists in it’s traditional form. There are a lot of comments on here from black belts in many styles, but we call jiu jitsu “jiu jitsu” internally. To someone who hears bjj mentioned, they may not have any context on the difference in the names and walk into a school that doesn’t offer what they seek. It’s not about maintaining the tradition in that respect, the home of bjj is in California despite it originating in Brazil. I practice GJJ, which has a different goal than the purely sport schools. Regardless if I am traveling and wish to train I shouldn’t have to sift through school that share names that muddies the water of what is offered. Quite simply it’s not worth being considered because bjj helps to differentiate a different style.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published