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Carlos Gracie: “There is Only One Jiu Jitsu”

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For the past few months, ever since Rickson Gracie brought the matter to everyone’s attention last year at the launch of his Jiu Jitsu Global Federation, the “Sport Jiu Jitsu vs Self Defence Jiu Jitsu” debate has been at an all time high. It seems as though every week a new “old school” jiu jitsu personality is coming out to broadcast their discontent for the state of the sporting aspect of Brazilian jiu jitsu.

Yesterday, the mastermind behind the IBJJF (International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation) and one of the greatest instigators of jiu jitsu world wide, particularly the sporting facet of the martial art, Carlos Gracie Junior, decided to speak up in a short clip advertised by Gracie Mag (which you can see here in Portuguese).

This is a translated transcript of the Master’s speech:

Carlos Gracie: “There is Only One Jiu Jitsu”

Today there is a lot of talk on the internet, and lots of debates trying to underline that there are two types of jiu jitsu, the self defence and the sport. This is a fantasy, it’s an illusion trying to separate it, jiu jitsu is just one thing.

When a person walks into a gym, and they have no ideas of jiu jitsu, they will begin by learning how to defend a hypothetical attack in the street. They will learn how to defend a set of positions, possibly more common in the street, people like to call this self defence. Someone called it self defence, maybe to give more emphasis [to the street side of the positions].

These are very basic jiu jitsu positions. After this you start getting more knowledge and you start practising with several more experienced training partners, putting these techniques to the test in sparring, this is what people tend to call sporting jiu jitsu.

In my eyes, everything is sport jiu jitsu and everything is self defence jiu jitsu. The sparring is the second stage in your progress. You have learnt basic positions now you are learning how to put in practice your self defence notions against someone who also knowns jiu jitsu. This is the only way you will evolve.

How will you mount on a guy/girl who knows how to grapple, that knows his defence and has a good guard and won’t let you mount? You will have to add the resources to surpass his defences so you can mount.

In self defence, you learn how to mount a layman, he does not know how to defend the mount, but a knowledgeable fighter, a coloured jiu jitsu belt, he will know the defence. He won’t let you, so you need to perfect your technique, to mount him. This is a perfected form of self defence.

So for me all jiu jitsu is just one, there is no divide.

Original video, in Portuguese only

Bernardo Faria BJJ Foundations


  • HALIM says:

    the question is, do "sport jiu jitsu" has a strategy to defend from kicking and punching ?

    • albertpecoraro says:

      Hello HALIM,

      In our school, the Sport Jiu Jitsu we teach is the 3-part fighting system: standup striking (punches/kicks), standup grappling/throwing, and ground fighting. Therefore, we teach how to defend & counter kicking and punching. I think the answer to your question will vary depending on which rule set of Sport Jiu Jitsu we are referring to.

      Peace – Albert Pecoraro

    • Luis K says:

      The answer is Yes BUT Sport JJ don't teach you that.

  • Drew Jitsu says:

    Obviously you don't train Jiu Jitsu. Strategy to defend kicking and punching? It's called closing the distance. Try punching or kicking when someone is 2 inches away from you.

  • johnny gregory says:

    Hi! I think sports and self-defense jiu jitsu is just a part of jiu jitsu but that's only my opinion, please correct me if I'm wrong, thank you I learned many things in this blog. Good day!

  • steve marlin says:

    In my opinion, The jiu jitsu for sports and self defense are almost same. There are only few technical aspect between them. I follow carlos gercia JR, what said is practical and important.

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