The McBryde Guide to Jiu-Jitsu

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The McBryde Guide to Jiu-Jitsu

The McBryde Guide to Jiu-Jitsu

Jiu-jitsu has been really popular for a long time, and today we’re going to introduce you to this martial art. We’re sure you’ll see why it’s such a favorite. If you missed our last guide, don’t forget to check it out: The McBryde Guide to Wrestling.

History of Jiu-jitsu

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During Japan’s Sengoku period, which ran from 1467 – 1603 CE, Jiu-jitsu was developed for use in close combat for situations where it just wasn’t worthwhile to use a weapon. Since it was expected that practitioners would be facing armored foes, this form of combat concentrated on immobilizing an opponent – and parrying enemy long weapons with a smaller weapon. Jiu-jitsu further developed through the 17th century to go along with new philosophies that caused weapons and armor to languish as decoration, thus making hand-to-hand combat the go-to.

Jiu-jitsu as a term didn’t come around until the 17th century, and was coined to identify several different grappling-centric techniques.

What is Jiu-jitsu?


Jiu jitsuIf you’re looking into a martial art to take up – whether you’re looking to develop a routine, some discipline, or a form of exercise – Jiu-jitsu should be on your list of considerations. Jiu-jitsu is a defensive system that uses an attacker’s momentum against them, and is traditionally based. It’s perfect for beginners and veterans alike, with something to teach everyone.



It’s not overly dangerous, either. The floor in your classroom is covered with martial arts mats to help lessen the impact against the floor when you get to throws and other high-impact moves, and you’re always being supervised.

This martial art has influenced and inspired multiple other forms of martial art, and even some styles of karate and aiki.

Who Can Do Jiu-jitsu?

Anybody. You don’t have to be strong, fit, or big – the point of Jiu-jitsu is to use the least amount of effort to turn your opponent’s attacking momentum against them, and as you work, you’ll get better. You’ll get stronger. You’ll become more fit! You’ll be taught everything that you need to know to improve as you go along. The point of starting in any martial art is that you aren’t amazing when you get there, but you progress and become effective as you go. Jiu-jitsu is good for anyone.

Members of Jiu-jitsu clubs have been as young as five and as old as 85. Most clubs prefer not to take on anyone that’s younger than 14, and there hasn’t been any limitation on maximum age that we’ve heard of. Jiu-jitsu provides a fitness edge that is capable of fully transforming someone no matter how out of shape they are.

Is Brazilian Jiu-jitsu Different From Jiu-jitsu/Jujutsu?

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Yes, it is. Brazilian Jiu-jitsu was developed based upon Jiu-jitsu/jujutsu in 1925. Helio Gracie, son of Gastao Gracie, a friend of Japanese Jiu-jitsu champion Esai Maeda, adjusted Jiu-jitsu techniques to suit his smaller frame and created Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. It is a self-defense technique for smaller folk that teaches them how to defend against a larger opponent.

It’s perfect for kids because of this, especially kids that are facing bullying. The Gracie Jiu-jitsu Academy has this down to a very specific art – they provide training to kids from the ages of 5-13 for self defense and confidence. If that’s not awesome, then we really don’t know what is.

Is Jiu-jitsu Practiced Competitively?

Yes, it is. There’s Sport Jiu-jitsu, where the point is to win by submission or by gaining points over your opponent, and then there’s Self Defense Jiu-jitsu, which is mainly about protecting yourself. Royce Gracie, part of the BJJ family, used Jiu-jitsu techniques to finish fights in the early days of UFC. As more and more people saw how he was finishing his fights, those people started to see the benefits of Jiu-jitsu on the competitive Jiu-jitsu mats.

Why should someone practice Jiu-jitsu?

Jiu-jitsu is fun. It’s friendly to people of all ages, anyone can do it, and it’s a great way to develop mind-body awareness that you might not have picked up elsewhere. There’s a slight competitive bit to it, even on the practice mat, that provides that little bit extra that some folks need – and like all sports, you get out of it what you put into it. For somebody that’s in need of an activity to get them moving, Jiu-jitsu does just that. It’s an intense workout without being too much – you’re going to use muscles that you’ve never used before. You’re going to have to get out of your comfort zone.

That’s something that more people need to do. Walking isn’t enough, DDR isn’t enough, and you can’t spend all of your time studying and getting swallowed up by your coursework – Jiu-jitsu will make you a stronger, better, healthier person.

You’ll learn to gently put bullies on their backs, too, when you need to. That’s always good to know.

Jiu-jitsu, the Gracie Family, and Anti-Bullying

The Gracie family, the founders of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, run a very successful anti-bullying program for kids. Three million kids miss classes because of the stress related to being bullied every month in the USA, and the Gracies knew that this just wasn’t cool. They started the Gracie Bullyproof program to give bullied kids tons of confidence and the ability to non-violently defend themselves in the event of a bully attack.

Bullyproof helps kids identify when they’re being harassed and how to act. They’re also provided with the tools to improve their confidence level, which helps make them less likely to be a target. The Gracies also teach these Bullyproof kids their five rules of engagement, which are:

  1. Avoid a fight at all costs.
  2. If attacked, defend yourself.
  3. If verbally assaulted, follow the Three Ts (talk, tell, tackle)
  4. Never punch or kick – establish control and negotiate, instead
  5. When applying submissions, use minimal force and negotiate.

(From Gracie Jiu-jitsu Academy)

This is the power of the Jiu-jitsu way.

Weapons Used in Jiu-jitsu

Jiu-jitsu is old. It goes back to the time of the Samurai, and was meant to be used both with and without weapons. It was especially effective for Samurai who lost their weapons in battle and needed to otherwise defend themselves against an armed (and armored) attacker.

Or, in the case of Okinawa, for farmers defending themselves from invaders. You’ll see what we mean in a moment.

It’s expected that a student will be able to complete each weapon’s kata, and that training with these weapons has benefits for unarmed self defense techniques by way of improving bodily control, strength, and muscle memory. It helps that they’re also really, really interesting.

The weapons that are used with Jiu-jitsu are the nunchuku, tonfa, sai, katana, bokken, jo, naginata, and kama.

Bo and Jo

A staff measuring about six feet long, the bo is exceptional for blocking and parrying an opponent’s attacks, as well as putting distance between them and you. It can be used to lock an opponent’s joints, effectively immobilizing them and taking them down without killing them. The jo is more or less the same style of weapon, it’s just shorter and doesn’t put as much distance between opponent and student.


These hardwood weapons were originally mill handles – long sticks formed the ‘handle’ portion, and a stick coming out the side would have been embedded into the millstone. Swords were banned on the island of Okinawa a hundred or so years before Japan invaded in or around 1609, and the weapons ban tightened further during Japan’s occupation to prevent the peasants from rioting.

Considering every farm and work implement the peasants used could double as a weapon, this wasn’t a sound plan.

The tonfa could be used to parry other weapons, or spun by its shorter handle to be a striking weapon. When held down the wielder’s forearm, they provide impressive reinforcement.

See the tonfa at work below.


Would you believe that the infamous nunchuku were originally used as a farming implement? They were highly effective for crushing rice and pounding grain into flour, guiding horses (as a bit), and pulling roots from the ground. Two foot-long sticks are attached by a length of rope or chain, and can be used for intercepting a weapon and disarming an opponent.


Another weapon that’s specific to Okinawa, the sai were also probably farming implements, though evidence of this is not very clear. If you’re one of the kids that was raised with the Ninja Turtles, you’ll recognize this weapon as being the one carried by moody Raphael: a long, unsharpened point with two shorter points on either side, all attached to a single handle. The way the tsuba are lined up with the main blade and handle make this weapon perfect for blocking other blades, or a bo staff.

They could also be thrown up to 30 feet, could pierce armor when used that way, and could pin an enemy’s foot into the ground once other options ran out.


A feudal Japanese weapon that can be described as a sword on a stick, it was unwieldy to those that weren’t well-versed in its use. The shaft alone could be up to 9 feet long, and add a 2 foot long blade to the end, you’re dealing with a very dangerous implement of destruction.

This is another weapon that was probably used in agriculture, though nobody’s completely sure. What is known is that it was absolutely deadly against mounted warriors (cavalry was more common during the 10th century than in previous times). It would be able to cut a horse down and then be used to slaughter the rider when the beast fell.

It’s also said that women used the naginata to protect their homes and children when their husbands were away. We think that’s pretty bad-ass, considering the sort of skill required to use this thing effectively.


It looks like a sickle and was most likely used as one, for the same purpose. With its wooden, forearm-length handle and wicked curved blade, it allowed the user to deflect the blows of other weapons and was an effective slashing weapon. You can see a demonstration of this weapon in the video below.

Get Involved

If you want to get involved in Jiu-jitsu, check out local gyms and clubs for classes. You’ll thank yourself later. This martial art is a great way to get fit and have fun doing it.

Next, check out the McBryde Guide to Karate, or take a look at our videos while you wait.

By |2016-02-10T05:50:31+00:00February 10th, 2016|Blog, Fitness Guide, Jiu-Jitsu|36 Comments

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  1. Maddie June 7, 2016 at 6:24 pm - Reply

    Very interesting post! I was once of the few kids who never took a karate class as a kid, but I do think that it’s a really cool sport/activity. However, is there a difference between karate and jiu-jitsu or are they just different terms? If so, what is the difference?

    • McBryde Mats June 8, 2016 at 9:09 am - Reply

      Hi Maddie. It’s a pity you missed Karate in School but hey there is always time to start now! Jiu-Jitsu and Karate are 2 different sports the best way to explain it would be to check out the McBryde Guide to Karate here.

      • Lavon January 19, 2017 at 5:30 pm - Reply

        I think that’s awesome the way you combined the pace and HR training on this run. Part of what makes someone a successful coach is knowing and understanding the logic behind the rules/practices, but also being able to adapt it for the person. And you seem to be recognizing what you need/want to adapt the training for yourself. That’s great and will be an asset when you have cli21ts.I&#8en7;m really intrigued by the whole slower pacing from the class though and I kind of want to be my own test guinea pig and run the program, perhaps for the LV Marathon. We’ll see!

  2. craigbic June 8, 2016 at 4:37 pm - Reply

    Another comprehensive and informative post on a sport I know nothing about. lol There was a Karate school in our town but it closed awhile back. My daughter had been taking lessons there. This would be the type of sport she’d be interested in but I don’t know of any instructors or schools in our area.

    • McBryde Mats June 9, 2016 at 9:46 am - Reply

      Hi Craig, thanks for the reply. Jiu-Jitsu is becoming more and more popular as the years roll by, there are many great trainers and gyms all across the country, now that you have read the McBryde guide to Jiu-Jitsu, why dont you give it a try?

      • Cannon January 19, 2017 at 5:31 pm - Reply

        I co82dn&#ul17;t have asked for a more rewarding blog. You happen to be ever present to present excellent guidance, going straight to the point for quick understanding of your visitors. You’re surely a terrific pro in this subject matter. Thanks a lot for currently being there for people like me.

  3. Diane June 17, 2016 at 4:21 am - Reply

    I think the best thing about sports like Jiu-Jitsu is the discipline. Learning discipline at a young age will help any kid do better in life, both in regards to his/her social life and also personal life (and one’s self imagery). Once you learn what discipline means and you get into the habit of being disciplined both at home and at school or while practicing Jiu-Jitsu, you’ll feel better about yourself. And this means you’ll be at your best potential which can only lead to great things.

    • McBryde Mats June 21, 2016 at 8:52 am - Reply

      Hi Diane! We are glad you got some value out of the Mcbryde guide to Jiu-Jitsu! Youth Jiu-Jitsu is close to our hearts here and we love it for the exact reason you mentioned. The discipline and focus that it teaches kids is incredible.

  4. Kelly June 23, 2016 at 5:33 am - Reply

    Jiu-jitsu looks like an amazing workout! Do you need a strong core? Or will you develop a strong core during training? I want to take up something where I can build on my core muscles, but also something that will help protect me, and make me feel more confident. Jiu-jitsu definitely looks like it could be a good option.

    I also didn’t realise there was a difference between Brazilian Jiu-jitsu and just Jiu-jitsu. Good to know.

    • McBryde Mats June 23, 2016 at 7:17 am - Reply

      HiKelly, thanks for taking the time to read the Mcbryde guide to Jiu-Jitsu! Yes, it will help you build your core muscles, everyone starts at the bottom, that’s the beauty of martial arts, the hard part is getting the desire to sign up to a gym and the discipline to stay consistent! Good luck out there!

  5. shaun wright June 23, 2016 at 9:59 am - Reply

    Jiu Jitsu is such an effective form of defense. I remember growing up and thinking that Karate was the only thing out there and then I found Jiu Jitsu and that all changed. Most fights do end up on the ground and being prepared for that is a must. I like that your post teaches the three T’s. Children need that especially.

    • McBryde Mats June 24, 2016 at 3:07 pm - Reply

      Jiu-jitsu is a great style of martial art, we love it! Thanks for reading the McBryde guide to Jiu-jitsu Shaun!

  6. David Emerson June 30, 2016 at 11:54 am - Reply

    I used to overrate karate but this awesome post has completely changed my view about Jiu-jitsu. Now i know that there’s more to Jiu-jitsu than I thought. I like the fact that it makes me fitter and stronger!

    • McBryde Mats July 1, 2016 at 11:25 am - Reply

      We love it too David! Thanks for reading ‘The McBryde guide to Jiu-Jitsu’!

  7. David Emerson June 30, 2016 at 12:29 pm - Reply

    Thanks for this awesome post! I’ve always heard about Jiu-jitsu from a distance, i never knew there was much to it like this. I think it’s one of the best martial art to take up as just about anyone with moderate fitness can practice it.

    • McBryde Mats July 1, 2016 at 11:28 am - Reply

      Thats why we love it so much Davis! Thanks for reading “The McBryde guide to Jiu-Jitsu”!

  8. Sandy Arora July 2, 2016 at 7:12 am - Reply

    Every beginner should have this article. Excellent information & tips on what to do and what not to do for those starting their jiu jitsu journey.

    • McBryde Mats July 5, 2016 at 8:41 am - Reply

      Thanks Sandy, appreciate the kind words! We are glad you enjoyed ‘The McBryde guide to Jiu-Jitsu’!

  9. Hades July 14, 2016 at 3:01 pm - Reply

    I have long been interested in taking Jiu-jitsu and karate. Seeing this post has made me want to call a local instructor and get started. Martial arts, specifically Jiu-jitsu, seems to be calming in that you learn how to control your body, each movement, and create force where you so choose.

    The Gracie Bullyproof rules are much needed and interesting. I have wondered how children trained in martial arts deal with bullying, and exactly how they decrease the force they use if they find themselves in real world fights with their peers. Again, wonderful post and it was cool learning about the different weapons!


    • McBryde Mats July 15, 2016 at 3:59 am - Reply

      Jiu-jitsu for life! We know what you are saying, Jiu-Jitsu is close to our hearts and a passion at McBryde Mats.
      The work the Gracie’s are doing is tremendous, Rener Gracie is a natural behind the camera and all of the Gracie breakdown videos are pure gold, they are the first family of Jiu-Jitsu for sure!

      • Billybob January 19, 2017 at 5:26 pm - Reply

        Great blog here! Also your website loads up fast! What web host are you using? Can I get your aftfilaie link to your host? I wish my website loaded up as quickly as yours lol

  10. Jaci July 19, 2016 at 3:04 am - Reply

    A very helpful, informative post. Years ago, I was engaged in both Karate and Tae Kwon Do, though not at the same time. As described here, found them very inspiring sports. The discipline and focus needed could help anyone in any part of their lives. Wonderful descriptions of the weapons used in Jiu-jitsu. I love the way you use history throughout your post. It makes for a great read.

    • McBryde Mats July 19, 2016 at 8:14 am - Reply

      Thanks Jaci! We are glad you got some value from reading our guide to Jiu-jitsu!

  11. Rafi Morshed July 28, 2016 at 4:32 am - Reply

    Great article! There was a time when I thought Jiu-Jitsu and Jujutsu are the same thing. Then I got to know that they are different. Now I think this is the best martial arts for self defense.

    • McBryde Mats July 30, 2016 at 9:18 am - Reply

      Thanks Rafi! Yes, we believe in the power of Jiu-Jitsu as well! It’s an incredible martial art! Thanks for reading!

  12. Margret July 29, 2016 at 8:00 am - Reply

    Hello, McBryde Mats
    Thanks for this quality info

    I’m a 20 year old female who has participated in Tae Kwon for 4 years.
    I plan on joining my school’s Jiu-jitsu team and tryouts are in a couple of weeks.

    I am about finishing high school and have not participated in Jiu-jitsu for the
    first time but with your insightful post, I think am gonna make it to the tryouts.
    Thank you for sharing.

    • McBryde Mats July 30, 2016 at 9:04 am - Reply

      Hi Margret! Great TKD is awesome! The worlds best kickers all come from TKD.
      Jiu-Jitsu is the pinnacle of martial arts and the style is amazing, we are sure you will enjoy the training! Good Luck!

  13. alamin August 3, 2016 at 10:04 am - Reply

    A very helpful, informative post. Every learner ought to have this article. Astounding data and tips on what to do and what not to accomplish for those beginning their jiu jitsu venture. I like the way that it makes me fitter and more grounde

    • McBryde Mats August 6, 2016 at 6:47 am - Reply

      Awesome! Jiu-jitsu is for everyone! We are glad you got some value from the guide!

  14. Sam Brooke August 4, 2016 at 10:59 am - Reply

    Self defense has long been on my bucket list of things that I want to learn, but thanks to this post, you’ve inspired me to look into it more seriously. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu sounds like the perfect kind for my small frame!

    I love everything that the Gracie Bullyproof program teaches. My only wish is that this brilliant material was taught on a more widespread scale than it is – it’s my first time hearing about it.

    • McBryde Mats August 6, 2016 at 6:39 am - Reply

      Jiu-Jitsu is an amazing martial art. We love it as well and are committed to the development of our sport, check out our blog on Daniel Wanderley!

  15. stalwart August 13, 2016 at 9:57 am - Reply

    While most martial arts deal only with the initial punching and kicking stages of combat, jiu-jitsu concentrates on ground combat. This articule shows how to use jiu-jitsu to increase combat effectiveness. I think I have now understand more than what I need to know about it. This is a nice write up which offers great instruction.
    In fact this is one of the best martial arts books I have ever read, period! The article is top notch, great background information, theory, excellent explanations. All I can say is thank you for this write up.

    • McBryde Mats August 23, 2016 at 6:14 am - Reply

      Its a pleasure! We are glad you got value from the article! Thats why we arite ’em! Keep coming back for more!

  16. stalwart August 13, 2016 at 12:54 pm - Reply

    While most martial arts deal only with the initial punching and kicking stages of combat, jiu-jitsu concentrates on ground combat, this is the best article I have ever seen on Jiu Jitsu. In fact this is one of the best martial arts article I have ever read, period! These guide is top notch, great background information, theory, excellent explanations.
    I have to recommend this to all my friends to go through it, such a wonderful article.
    This guide is wonderful.

    • McBryde Mats August 23, 2016 at 6:11 am - Reply

      Jiu-jitsu is an incredible martial art and something that we are passionate about here at McBryde Mats. Thanks for reading the guide Stalwart!

  17. akorlar September 11, 2018 at 12:25 am - Reply

    thank you admin. nice article

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