A martial art and combat sport that focuses on groundfighting, with the goal of gaining a dominant position from which to force an attacker to submit, either through strikes or a finishing hold.

Modern Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ) traces it origins to Japanese jujutsu (the traditional Japanese spelling), which had existed for several centuries in Japan. Jujutsu translates as “soft art,” an expression that conveys its central principle—to yield to your opponent’s strength and use it against them, while using leverage and technique to maximize your own strength.

By applying the “soft art” principles to fighting on the ground (a place where most fights will end up anyway), jiu-jitsu allows a smaller, weaker person to more successfully defend themselves against a bigger, stronger assailant. Jiu-jitsu can be used for self-defense, sport grappling tournaments (gi and no-gi) and mixed martial arts (MMA) competition; in fact, a background in jiu-jitsu is considered essential for any serious MMA fighter.

In contrast to more traditional martial arts, modern BJJ places little emphasis on static forms and “lethal” moves, neither of which can be practiced in any realistic context. Instead, the techniques of BJJ allow students to train cooperatively and safely at full speed; thus, students become comfortable with combat and can test the effectiveness of their techniques every day. Live sparring and drilling always play a central role in training and are often the criteria on which rankings are determined.