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The Philosophical Difference

The fact is that most self-defense situations happen as a surprise, involve a larger attacker, quickly move to a very close range and eventually end up on the ground. Gracie Jiu Jitsu is the only martial arts system that has proven it self effective over and over with regard to these four criteria. Demonstrated to be so effective in the original Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), it is the official and only martial art used in the U.S. Army Combatives program.

One of the great advantages of this system is that it was developed by a smaller person who was looking for reasonable answers for the problem of having to fight a much bigger stronger person. Grandmaster Helio Gracie, the systems founder, was 135 lbs when he developed GBJJ. He quickly realized four things. First, an attacker is most likely to be bigger and stronger than you. Second, most real self defense situations start as a surprise attack and so you must be able to defend from such attacks in order to survive a self defense situation. These include headlocks, grabs, sucker punches, bear hugs, chokes, and gun, stick and knife attacks. Third, the last thing you want to do if attacked is get fatigued trying to defend against a superior sized attacker. Forth, a bigger taller opponent has really only one major advantage, the length of his arms.

Jiu-Jitsu, which means gentle art, is the oldest form of martial arts. The samurai clans in Japan adopted Jiu-Jitsu as their own traditional style to defeat an opponent regardless if the situation was striking, throwing, or grappling. With the passing years, they split the techniques and developed other martial arts styles, such as judo, aikido, karate, etc.
In 1914, Japanese Jiu-Jitsu champion Esai Maeda migrated to Brazil, where he was instrumental in establishing a Japanese immigrant community. His efforts were aided by Gastão Gracie, a Brazilian scholar and politician of Scottish descent. As an expression of his gratitude for Gracie's assistance, Maeda taught the Brazilian's oldest son Carlos the essential secrets of the ancient martial arts technique. Carlos taught Maeda's techniques to his four brothers, and in 1925 they opened the first Jiu-Jitsu academy in Brazil. For the Gracie brothers, teaching the art was more than an occupation. It was their passion.

One of the brothers, Helio Gracie, paid special interest to the use of the techniques. Helio being of small frame, light in weight (only 135 pounds), and in frail health, was 16 when he began learning Jiu-Jitsu. Being unable to participate in classes, he would sit and watch his older brother teach every day. One day when Carlos was unable to make it to class, Helio was asked to instruct. Because of his size and stature, he began to work with and adapt the basic rules of Jiu-Jitsu. He introduced the application of leverage to the art, making it possible for a smaller opponent to defeat a larger one. He began experimenting, modifying and enhancing the basic techniques to make them effective for a person regardless of his or her stature. Thus began the development of a new and more effective art - Gracie Jiu-Jitsu.

Helio's skills eventually enabled him to beat some of the world's greatest fighters. Helio's feats include the longest fight in recorded history - 3 hours and 45 minutes, nonstop - and the historic match against Masahiko Kimura, who was probably the greatest fighter Japan ever produced. Now in his 90's, Helio Gracie still teaches and is widely recognized as a living legend.

Street vs Sport jiu-jitsu
Helio's quest became today's Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, a martial art that is continuously evolving as a result of input from practitioners throughout the world.
While nearly all Brazilian jiu-jitsu schools have succumbed to the lure of tournament glory, Gracie Jiu-Jitsu remained true to the practice of techniques that would work in a real fight. The Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy training objective was, and remains to this day, to enable practitioners to defeat an all-out attack from a larger and more athletic opponent. In comparison, the sports jiu-jitsu objective is to win against an opponent of similar size in a closely monitored and controlled match. The fundamental philosophical difference between street self-defense and tournament competition affects all aspects of jiu-jitsu training and mindset.

To watch Ryron and Rener demonstrate the primary differences between “Street” and “Sport” jiu-jitsu, click on the video link below.
[ The differences between Street and Sports jiu-jitsu ]

The Technical Difference 
Several hundred techniques will work both in a tournament match or a street fight. But, the complete Gracie Jiu-Jitsu curriculum also contains many techniques that were developed exclusively for street fight scenarios with no applicability in competition. The problem is that most Brazilian jiu-jitsu schools have totally eliminated the “street only” techniques from their programs in order to allow more training time for techniques that will lead to victory under the point-based system, rules, and weight classes of sport jiu-jitsu tournaments. This technical difference between the Gracie Academy curriculum and other Brazilian jiu-jitsu programs reflects the philosophical difference between street self-defense and sports competition and carries over to the award of belts as measures of proficiency in the system.

The Belt Difference
The Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy belt system is distinct from that of sport-oriented schools. Sport-oriented schools promote students based exclusively on their mastery of techniques that will lead to victory in a tournament setting. In most cases, sport belt holders are very comfortable in sport jiu-jitsu matches and controlled sparring sessions. However, when confronted by a larger and more athletic opponent who doesn’t play by the rules, they are often shaken by the unpredictable, violent attack and find themselves unable to respond.

At Jacobs SW & MMA, belt promotions are based, first and foremost, on the student's mastery of the techniques that will ensure victory in a street fight. The beginner curriculum, Gracie Combatives, is entirely dedicated to instilling each student with an essential “street fight filter” comprised of distance management, energy efficiency, and natural body movements. Once a student learns the fundamental techniques and truly owns these core principles, they are awarded a Gracie Combatives belt. As a student advances through the rest of the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu curriculum, their “street fight filter” is continuously tested at increasing levels of intensity all the way to black belt.

In order to access the Testing Center, view the detailed belt qualification requirements, and use the Video Evaluation Process, you will need to log in to your GU student profile. If you are a not a GU student, please  click here  to sign up for free.