Gracie Jiu-Jitsu: What Is It and How Is It Different Than BJJ

Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Vs BJJ

The main difference between BJJ and Gracie Jiu-Jitsu is that GJJ focuses on self-defense over sport. Both BJJ and GJJ come from the same origin and art and were developed by the Gracie family.

But Gracie jiu-jitsu is stricter about keeping to the original style passed down by the Gracie family more than a BJJ school has to. Either way, everyone who does BJJ including myself can trace their linage back to a Gracie.

As a professional jiu-jitsu athlete, I have catered my BJJ to be more focused on the sport rather than self-defense. This is because sport jiu-jitsu is my full-time job.

That said, I love and respect Gracie jiu jitsu for keeping self-defense the first focus of their art. Learning how to use BJJ for self-defense is a very effective and valuable skill.

This article will discuss the main differences between BJJ and GJJ, providing detailed descriptions of both and what you can expect from each discipline.

The Differences Between Gracie Jiu-Jitsu and BJJ

BJJ and GJJ are often used interchangeably to describe what are, but there are usually some differences. While these terms aren’t 100% the same, they’re closely related to one another. Technically they are both types of jiu-jitsu that originated from the Gracie family

You could say that Gracie jiu-jitsu is BJJ that has kept true to the original intentions of the Gracie family. It is very important that GJJ keeps its focus on self-defense and that it stays effective in the real world. So you could say that Gracie jiu-jitsu is Brazilian jiu-jitsu but not all BJJ is Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. 

GJJ Is a Self Defense Art

Though many BJJ schools focus on self-defense, it is not a requirement. Realistically anyone can start a BJJ school but not everyone can use the Gracie name. In this way, it is up to the BJJ school to decide how much they want to focus on self-defense vs sport BJJ. 

The reason for the big split in focus is that sport BJJ and other forms of submission grappling have become very popular. For someone like me who is a full-time jiu-jitsu athlete, my key focus is learning BJJ to be the best sport jiu-jitsu player.

Sport jiu-jitsu is getting more and more popular every year. As a result, more and more BJJ schools are starting to focus more on sport than self-defense. 

After all, there are things that I might do in a competition that I would never want to do in a real-life situation. Though Gracie jiu-jitsu is not against the sport of BJJ, they want to make sure that the original intentions of the art do not get lost in the sport.

Aim of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu

GJJ aims to teach self-defense, while Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) might focus on self-defense but may or may not focus more on sport jiu-jitsu.  Sport BJJ aims to win matches in competitions by using submissions or points. 

On the contrary, GJJ aims to teach self-defense. The techniques are designed so that you can practically use them in a real-life situation.

The difference is that when in competition a BJJ player does not need to worry about getting punched, kicked, bitten, or whatever else. So naturally, some techniques will work in sports but not in real life. 

Gracie jiu-jitsu does not want BJJ to go down the same path as its predecessor judo where the art is almost completely focused on sport. 

This is a stark contrast to self-defense scenarios and why GJJ techniques are more applicable to self-defense than BJJ.

What’s Better, Gracie Jiu-Jitsu or BJJ?

As previously mentioned, GJJ emphasizes general body mechanics when applying techniques, while BJJ is very much about individuals’ specific attributes compared to their opponent’s.

GJJ is better for smaller individuals facing bigger opponents in self-defense situations. However, BJJ is the better choice if you aim to win competitions rather than learn self-defense.

In a self-defense scenario against a bigger or stronger opponent, sport BJJ may not be as effective as GJJ techniques. That said, there are still a ton of BJJ schools that focus on self-defense as well. I think the best scenario is to learn both.

Whether in self-defense or sport, size and strength do matter in jiu-jitsu. Just because you can learn techniques that might work against a larger untrained opponent does not mean you should not try and become a stronger more athletic martial artist. 

That said because of genetic factors, not everyone is going to be able to have the same athletic ability as a top-level heavyweight male BJJ player.

So even though you should get as strong as you can, if you are worried about being bullied or attacked by people larger than you then you should focus more on learning self-defense jiu-jitsu. You can find this at every Gracie jiu-jitsu school but not at all BJJ schools. 

If you are looking for more of a sport and martial art to compete in then a BJJ school that focuses on competition might be a better fit for you. Neither is better or worse, it just depends on what you are looking for. 

Final Thoughts

If you’ve been wondering about the difference between Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, I hope this blog post has provided the information you need.  

In a nutshell, GJJ focuses on self-defense while BJJ focuses on competitive combat, which means they teach different moves to their students.

Nonetheless, It’s crucial to know your goals before deciding the type of jiu-jitsu you want to learn, as they both come with benefits. In addition, some BJJ schools still have a focus on self-defense. So maybe you could find a school that takes both self-defense and competition very seriously. 

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