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!


Justin James Roche

Personally, I prefer to refer to Jiu Jitsu as Gracie Jiu Jitsu, out of respect for the Gracie family who most definitely created a new style from the Judo, traditional jiu jitsu and early MMA that Master Maeda so kindly taught them.

From what i have read, the Gracie family do not claim to have invented all the techniques that they use in their system and include in their history info on the people who taught them the most and their lineage.

BJJ, although similar to Judo, is still significantly different in terms of the rules used, many of the techniques used, and the emphasis placed more on ground techniques. I would also add that with Vale Tudo and MMA, as well as the Gracie family’s system of self defence techniques, their system is much more comprehensive than Judo, which now has become focused primarily on international sport, more than anything else.

I would also say that the way that the Gracie family system works, it is fairly different to how most traditional Japanese Ju Jutsu train their system, not only in methodology but also in terms of technical content.

I like both systems of Jiu Jutsu, Gracie Jiu Jitsu as well as traditional ju jutsu (which incidentally may be making a come back with the recent popularity of the Jon Wick series of excellent and adrenaline packed martial art movies).

I think dropping the Gracie’s name is perhaps disrespectful but also means that some may not know what they are buying into. If the Gracie’s name stays, then it makes it easier for new students to identify.

Lastly, I also love Judo, and think that Professor Jigoro Kano was very innovative in his training methodology.

I am saddened however that some people who now do Judo want to forget that the art was created by a Japanese expert, who had trained in styles of Traditional Japanese Ju Jutsu that had been handed down from family member to family member.

Now that Judo is more considered a sport by most, removed from its martial application, I think that some westerners can divorce Judo from its origins, this i feel to a greater extent is ignorant as most the techniques that are taught in Judo and used in competition even today and but the same or hybrids of techniques that were developed by real innovative battle field warriors, who invented these techniques not to win medals but to win wars.

To take credit for their genius, from some westerner sports men, is ignorant in my opinion and perhaps theft (plagiarism).

Now, i am not saying i think the Gracie’s were wrong for putting their name on their system, as they certainly did put their own take on the techniques that they were taught in how they used the techniques and how they trained them etc.

I just think ignoring or erasing their name from their style is wrong. Along with erasing Prof Kano and Japan from Judo. Thanks


I like the idea – it is pretty confusing however there are some distinct differences. Perhaps it is more the ‘modern’ vs ‘traditional’?


In the wild you have the Cats, these include Lions, Tigers, Leopards, Cheetahs , Jaguars and Cougars. We don’t seem to see a need to rename any one of these species to be just the generic term of Cats. Jujutsu is the same, there is Brazilian Jiujitsu, Judo, Aikido, Sambo, Kawaishi Jujutsu, Small Circle Jujitsu, etc etc . We can easily differentiate beween these arts as Martial Artists, and we can easily contrast them from arts like Filipino Martial Arts, or the striking arts like Karate / Taekwondo , and all of their subsets. This suggestion to me is a bit like saying BJJ is it’s own art, and ignores it’s Judo roots, and Professor Kano who invented modern ideas of Randori, and who himself learned various traditional Jujutsu systems. I drive a car, it’s a Honda , it’s a Car and it’s a Honda.

Shane Colburn

Always just Jiu Jitsu or Gracie Jiu Jitsu/ GJJ. I cant stand the term BJJ! To me it now means a generic sport jiu jitsu that is on every corner having lost its street effectiveness of distance management through dilution and tournament focus. So many schools and BJJ lineages I have been to now do not even include self defense punch protection on the ground for all positions and all techniques along with how to strike strategically to create openings, let alone stand up clinching on strikes and the standard striking of Gracie Jiu Jitsu that makes it a stand alone, complete system! I always tell people which stems from my training with Helio Gracie and his lineage that now people think BJJ with strikes and the defense is mma, when in fact BJJ with strikes and the defense is Gracie Jiu Jitsu!

Robert Morales

I agree 100% … ive never liked using
“Bjj” and its always annoyed me
I used to say “Gracie Jiu jitsu”
Because they really did change the Art and take it to a whole new level and pretty much created something new
However now that Jiu jitsu is known and popular , I usually just use “Jiu jitsu”
Awesome Post Jake

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