Great question! Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a martial art and combat sport system that focuses on grappling and especially ground fighting.   To help answer this fully though, we’ve compiled some of the best information from Wikipedia and around the web.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Origins

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu was formed from Kodokan judo ground fighting (often referred to as newaza). These fundamental techniques were taught by a number of Japanese individuals such as Mitsuyo Maeda who introduced them to Brazil.  martial arts yeovil what is bjj Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu eventually came to be its own combat sport through the experiments, practices, and adaptation of judo and jujutsu through the legendary Gracie family. gracies martial arts yeovil BJJ promotes the concept that a smaller, weaker person can successfully defend themselves or another against a bigger, stronger, heavier assailant by using proper technique, timing and leverage. One of the major distinctions of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is that, unlike other martial arts, it focuses on taking the fight to the ground, controlling the opponent and then applying joint locks and chokeholds to defeat them. BJJ training can be used for sport grappling tournaments and in self-defense situations. Sparring (usually referred to as “rolling”) and live drilling play a huge part in this. Many students enter competitions throughout the year and we have a history of winning medals at these tournaments. Although competition is one of the best and fastest ways to improve your skills, no student is forced to compete and many choose not to.   Since its inception in 1882, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has become a sport, a method for promoting physical fitness and building character in young (and old!) people, and – for many – a way of life.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Fighting Style

One of the key reasons Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has risen to popularity is its effectiveness. Time and again, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioners have proven that a larger, stronger opponent is much less effective when forced to grapple on the ground. Once two people are on the ground the person who knows how to uitilise gravity, momentum and pressure has a much greater chance of controlling and defeating their opponent. BJJ allows a wide variety of techniques to take the fight to the ground after taking a grip. At Gracie Barra Yeovil we use techniques from Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and other combat sports such as Judo and Wrestling to achieve these “takedowns” and bring an opponent to the ground.

(Above: Some of the judo throws we use in BJJ to get the match to the ground)


Another option in BJJ one option is to “pull guard.” This means getting hold of the opponent and then bringing the fight or match onto the mat by pulling the opponent to the ground. Achieving a dominant position on the ground is one of the key areas of the BJJ style but Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu also uses the “guard” position. This allows practitioners to defend themselves from underneath their opponent. This defence may consist of submissions or “sweeps”. These sweeps allow the person on the bottom to reverse the opponent and end in a better position on top of their opponent. Once a dominant position has been achieved a number of moves (and counter-moves) can be used to control and exhaust the opponent before the application of a submission technique.  (Above: Jason Scully: The Grapplers Guide)

The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu System

Essentially, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a system that can be applied to the chaotic scenario of a fight. The system (from standing) is a follows:

  1. Managing and closing the distance between yourself and your opponent
  2. Grappling the opponent to the ground using a variety of techniques
  3. Getting past the opponents legs (passing the guard) 
  4. Establishing a dominant position (side control, mount, rear mount)
  5. Applying a joint lock or chokehold.

martial arts yeovil side control bjjmartial arts yeovil bow and arrow bjj choke face


While one student tries to implement this system their opponent will be trying hard to stop and reverse the steps by:

  1. Avoiding being taken to the ground
  2. Stopping their opponent getting past their legs
  3. Regaining their guard / sweeping their opponent
  4. Escaping / preventing any joint locks or choke holds.

This system of moves and counters can become very strategic and is often compared to a game of chess. A submission hold is the equivalent of checkmate in the sport, reflecting a disadvantage which would be extremely difficult to overcome in a fight (like a dislocated joint). These strategies were further developed over time by the Gracies’ and others, and became common in Mixed Martial Arts.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Training Methods

Sport BJJ focuses on submissions without the use of strikes. This allows practitioners to train at 100% against a fully resistant opponent, without picking up broken noses, black eyes or other striking related injuries. Training methods include technique drills in which techniques are practiced against a non-resisting partner; isolation sparring, commonly referred to as positional drilling, where only a certain technique or set of techniques are used, and full sparring in which each opponent tries to submit their opponent using any legal technique. Physical conditioning is also an important part of training at many clubs although there is no real “minimum level” of fitness for joining. Many people join us at Gracie Barra Yeovil in order to improve their fitness!   Some Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu clubs focus on the self defence aspect whilst others concentrate more on the sport and point scoring aspects. At Gracie Barra Yeovil, we apply a mixture of both teaching styles.

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