Are you looking to take up either BJJ or Aikido? Are you unsure of how they are different? Read our article to learn everything you need to know.
People from different origins and walks of life practice martial arts for various reasons, including fitness, self-defense, entertainment, stress-relief, etc. It has also become an entertainment source through multiple sports such as the Ultimate Fighting Championship and One Championship. Two of the modern martial arts that are most talked about are Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Aikido. In this article, we will discuss them thoroughly.
Most people who do not practice martial arts think that BJJ and Aikido are the same. While they may look the same to the untrained eye as they both utilize grappling techniques, that is not the case. There are some fundamental differences between BJJ and Aikido.
One of the world’s fastest-growing martial arts is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ). It is also written as jujitsu or jujutsu. In literal words, the Japanese term ‘Ju’ means gentleness, and jutsu means art or technique. Thus, its literal translation is ‘gentle art.’ Even though this form of martial art has come into attention only recently, mainly due to the soaring popularity of several mixed martial arts competitions, BJJ’s origins can be traced back to several centuries.
According to most people, BJJ was erected by a family known as the Gracie family, who were taught by Misuyo Maeda. While this is not wrong, it also does not paint the full picture.
The beginning of the story of BJJ starts in Feudal Japan. The Japanese samurai practiced an early form of Jiu-Jitsu to use them on the field. These warriors usually engaged in armed battles on horseback, and they developed the gentle art as their last line of defense when they were to find themselves in the battleground bare-handed and on foot. This art form mainly contained throws, joint locks, using chokes rather than strikes as the samurais wore heavy armor, which restricted their movement too much to perform striking techniques. As time passed, this form of Jiu-Jitsu branched off to various styles and transferred its focus from armed combat to a self-defense technique.
With the decline of Japanese feudalism, their martial arts also faced a decline. Then, a student of the traditional Japanese martial arts, who later came to be known as Jigoro Kano, made an effort to preserve these arts. In 1982, he founded a school where martial arts were taught and named it Kodokan. In this school, Kano instructed his students on his personal preference for the most effective Japanese Ryu or art techniques. A unique perspective of these techniques would later be known as Judo.
In 1894, a son of a sumo fighter named Mitsuo Maeda began his training at the Kodokan. Eventually, he became one of Kano’s most prized students. While Maeda was well-versed in takedowns and throws, his specialty was Newaza or ground-fighting. Maeda traveled to the US in 1904, along with a few teachers from Kodokan. Their form of martial art had many American admirers. Because of his incredible feats, Maeda was given the nickname of Conde Koma. In 1914, the martial artist sat his foot in Brazil and began the journey to change the history of this art.
After going to Brazil, Maeda settled in Belem, where he took on a capoeira artist named Pe De Bola. Maeda weighed 68 kg with a height of 5’5″ whereas his opponent was a man of 6’3″. While Maeda was unarmed, Bola used a knife. Nevertheless, Maeda came out victorious. In 1917, a teenage boy named Carlos Gracie saw an incredible display by the Japanese warrior known to take down giants. Maeda was a friend of that boy’s father, Gastao Gracie. Later, Maeda would take in young Carlos as his student.
As a faithful student, Carlos Gracie welcomed Jiu-Jitsu, and he started teaching this art to his siblings. One of his younger brothers, Helio, faced problems executing these techniques due to his weaker physique. So, he started to make some adjustments to the techniques so that the art can be executed no matter the physique or strength. It was from these innovative techniques made by Helio Gracie that Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu was born.
The word ‘Aikido’ is often translated as a harmonious spirit of unifying with life energy. It’s a form of martial art that is focused only on self-defense. It has similar fighting techniques to that of Jiu-Jitsu and Judo as it also utilizes the technique of twisting and throwing, and it aims to turn the attacker’s momentum and strength against him. Aikido emphasizes the necessity of achieving mental peace and control of one’s own body to read any opponent’s attack.
Aikido was originally developed in the early part of the 20th century by Morihei Ueshiba, now known as O-sensei or venerable. From a young age, Ueshiba studied different forms of martial arts, such as sumo, swordsmanship, staff technique, spear technique, and various forms of Jiu-Jitsu, especially the Daito and Yagyu styles as a way of making himself strong after seeing his father getting beaten up for political reasons.
From youth, when we cannot finish watching a movie in one sitting to save our lives, Morihei Ueshiba had been a calm, sensitive, and deeply spiritual person. Even after gaining such knowledge about different forms of martial arts and becoming healthy, Ueshiba felt dissatisfied. He plunged himself into religion to find a more profound significance of life while continuing to pursue to develop his knowledge of martial arts.
He was then influenced by the charismatic spiritual artist and leader Onisaburo Deguchi. Ueshiba came to view his martial arts training as his way of personal purification through spiritual training.
During his lifetime, Ueshiba saw Japan get involved in some of the most vicious conflicts of the 20th century, culminating in the Pacific war. During that time, Morihei Ueshiba founded Aikido and declared it to be the way of joining the citizens of the world in peace. That is why Aikido is more than a bugei or martial art or a bujutsu or a martial technique. It is, in essence, a budo or a martial way. The true meaning of Aikido can be found in one of O-sensei’s most revered quotes, “True victory is victory over the self.”
Even though Aikido and BJJ originated from the same land, they vary greatly. However, they also have some similarities in their techniques and their philosophical stands.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a combat sport. It has many tournaments and competitions at different levels, including country, continent, and world level. These tournaments are organized by distinguished federations such as IBJJF, UAEJJF, etc. These tournaments are usually broken up into style brackets. One can win the competition by making the opponent submit or by earning points throughout the match. There are some joint locks or strangles that are permitted by the BJJ federation that count as submissions.
On the other hand, Aikido is strictly a self-defense martial art. It has no competition. As its founder, Morihei Ueshiba has said, ‘There are no contests in the Art of Peace. A true warrior is invincible because he or she contests with nothing”. So, having competition would go against its founding philosophy.
Although both these martial art forms follow a belt system, they are not entirely similar but have some differences. The ranking systems in both forms are done by color, but the systems are a bit different. The Aikido has six ranks represented from bottom to top: white, yellow, orange, blue, brown, and finally, the black belt. In contrast, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has five levels for adults: white, blue, purple, brown, and black.
White Belt: The white belt signifies the beginning of our journey through the world of BJJ. The wearer of this belt’s aim would be to learn proper defense and survive. There is no required time set for a practitioner of the art to stay in this belt, according to the IBJJF. However, it is advised to take 6-18 months before moving on to the next rank.
Blue Belt: Wearing this belt means that the wearer has a basic understanding of Jiu-Jitsu positions. After we put enough work into training to be acknowledged by the instructor, we would only be ready for the blue belt. The IBJJF has set a time limit of at least two years where the practitioner must stay a blue belt holder.
Purple Belt: A purple belt holder has a basic understanding of every primary Jiu-Jitsu position and now the art is a massive part of their life. After getting to this rank, the practitioner focuses on filling the gaps in their techniques. Purple belt holders must put in a lot of work to become proficient in all the areas and because of that, they tend to get more attention from the instructors. The IBJJF requires a purple belt holder to remain in that rank for 1.5 years.
Brown Belt: A brown belt holder is a black belt holder with rough edges. They are the diamond in the rough. The practitioners put everything that they have learned over the years and mold them to sharpen their game. A brown belt holder understands virtually every aspect of the art, and they use this time to polish their skills. The brown belt holders usually spend 1-2 years in this stage.
Black Belt: A black belt represents that the practitioner has completed their journey through the world of BBJ and reached the top. They fully understand the journey through the art form and are technically sound in most positions. We have to note that having a black belt does not indicate that we know everything about the sport but that we have put in enough work to be a skilled and proficient Jiu-Jitsu practitioner.
The different colored belts are a product of the new era. But when Morihei Ueshiba first founded Aikido, it had only two colors- black and white. The white belt symbolized a learner or beginner’s rank, and it had grades referred to as kyu. The practitioners could reach several cues starting from the 6th kyu to the 2nd kyu. After mastering the 2nd kyu and moving on to the next, the 2nd kyu student would be awarded a black belt that would indicate that they have reached the first dan or the first degree. There are three degrees one can achieve as a black belt holder. They are the 1st dan, 2nd dan, and 3rd dan.
Before Aikido reached Europe, the conception of the two-colored belts became confusing. To differentiate between the ranks, several schools began to implement the use of different colors. They are generally as follows.
The difference between BJJ and Aikido becomes evident after seeing their training. Aikido training begins with ukemi which is primarily based on two partners acting out pre-determined forms or the kata forms. One of the partners learns to react or to receive (uke) an Aikido technique used on them by the other partner (tori) and neutralize this attack. Both the parts of this attack are equally important. These kata forms are acted out as a simulation of real-life situations.
BJJ training is much more freestyle. It is focused on getting the opponent to the ground to make up for the difference in physique and strength. Different scenarios and submissions are drilled into the practitioner’s mind and body. In the practice rounds, the practitioners pair up and try to make each other submit by using the techniques they have learned.
Martial arts are codified traditions and systems practiced for various reasons, such as law enforcement and military applications, self-defense, physical competitions, entertainment, mental, physical, spiritual development, etc. Due to self-defense, martial arts have gained popularity. Below we will discuss which martial art forms would be better.
In the case of Aikido, its style has been developed to take down multiple enemies without injuring them fatally. However, it has nothing to fall back on and if you cannot take down each enemy with a single move, you will be in trouble. It also has very low effectiveness against opponents who have decent enough martial arts skills. But it’s not every day that we are faced up against people skilled in martial arts. It’s also beneficial for people who must control their aggressiveness and not want to leave others with broken bones.
On the other hand, BJJ’s concept promotes that no matter the difference in size, one can take down their opponents using BJJ techniques. It’s one of the best techniques to learn for self-defense purposes as it teaches us to utilize our body as leverage to turn the tables against bigger opponents. It’s a combat sport and it’s not one of those arts that are meant to stay within confined streets. A person skilled in BJJ techniques is street-ready and can take care of themselves anywhere. It also teaches us what to do if we end up on the ground. We learn how to get out of bad situations using sweeps, throws, rolls, etc. This is crucial because this can happen in daily life situations and knowing what to do in these types of situations can be a lifesaver. But we must note that this art form was designed to take down single unarmed opponents. We will have a disadvantage if we are up against an armed combatant or a group of opponents.
We prefer BJJ for self-defense as it enables us to take on bigger opponents and utilize their strength against their own, plus its focus on ground fighting, where most street fights end up.
A burning question in every parent’s mind today is whether their kids should learn martial arts and if yes, which one they should learn. Now, not all forms of martial arts are created, not by a long shot. In this section, we will talk about what kind of martial arts is most suitable for kids.
Before that, let us say that learning any form of martial art is better than learning none. Kids fight. Moreover, if a kid is plunged into a fight without any skills or experiences, the most probable outcome would be that both the kids will come out from the fight with some bruises or possibly a bloody nose even. But if the kid has been taught martial arts, they can go into the fight with confidence and most importantly, a battle plan.
There are three main criteria that a martial art should fulfill to be suitable for a kid. They are as follows.
While Aikido is mostly based on self-defense, as we have mentioned before; it’s less effective against skilled opponents. Moreover, there is not a lot of actual practice involved in this form.
Whereas Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, also known as the gentle art, is 90% sparring, giving the kid a boost in confidence going into a fight. It also helps the children develop patience and problem-solving skills as they must keep trying to figure out how to subdue their opponents with a submission. Also, it teaches you that no opponent is too big for you and that is a valuable life lesson for kids.
So, after considering all the facts, between the two, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is more suitable for kids to learn self-defense.
It is not rare to find yourself on the street faced by a mugger. While we cannot say for sure that it will happen, it’s better to stay prepared to face the situation rather than losing your wits. Learning martial arts can prepare you for that. Besides, it’s also beneficial for any of us to learn a form of martial arts as they has many benefits. We hope that now you can make a choice between BJJ and Aikido.
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