Judo and Jiu-jitsu: A Perfect Extension

Judo and Jiu-jitsu

It seems that martial arts are getting more and more exposure in popular culture again. From the Olympics to the gym around the corner, it’s something that you see everywhere. Along with Karate and Taekwondo, Judo is one of the most prominent examples. Jujitsu on the other hand is not something we often come across. So the question “What is the difference between Judo and Jiu-jitsu?” might come up.

Jiu-jitsu Broken Down

At its core Jiu-jitsu is a grappling art. It focuses on strikes, grappling and submission – particularly in close quarters. Historically jiu-jitsuka (person who practices jujitsu) would also have training in the use of small weapons such as knives and chains.

Many other martial arts come from Jiu-jitsu. These include Russian sambo, catch wrestling and Aikido.

Techniques that originate in Jiu-jitsu have found their way into many modern combat systems around the world. It’s safe to say that most military service unarmed combat styles borrow heavily from this art.

Judo Broken Down

A Judo throw

We all know judo for one thing…

Spectacular throws. Not the type that require a lot of power but seem to only need good technique.

Beyond this a judoka (person who practices judo) will also be well versed in pins and joint-locks. It does have a striking component. This however is restricted to its kata (forms) and don’t get much real practice.

The uniform of Judo is made out of strong and heavy material. This keeps it from tearing when practicing throws.

History of Jiu-jitsu: The Yielding Art


First of all, there are a bunch of different spellings for this art. Whether it’s ju-jutsu, jiu-jitsu or ju-jitsu, it all refers to the same thing. Translating Japanese has not always been the easiest thing, so the spelling can be different from country to country.

The word jiu is ‘to yield’ in Japanese and jitsu as ‘art’ or ‘technique’. Therefore the yielding art. The idea is to use the attackers force against him rather than meeting it head on.


Jiu-jitsu was originally conceived for the sole purpose of fighting an armored opponent who has a weapon.

As a samurai on the battlefield you don’t always have the luxury of using your long sword. The space might be cramped, you might not have enough time to draw your sword or you might have lost it to begin with. Punching and kicking a guy who’s wearing heavy armor turned out to be ineffective (no surprise). Taking all this into consideration, a close combat fighting system was designed that would work under all these circumstances.

If you can’t punch or kick, you can still pick someone up and slam him to the ground. You can apply joint locks, causing you opponent terrible pain. Armor won’t help anyone if their arm is being hyperextend to the point of breaking.

The nature of these techniques can allow you to either make your escape or finish your opponent with a small weapon like a knife. This is the essence of old style Jiu-jitsu (referred to as koryū). It became popular during the latter half of the Muromachi period in Japan (1336 – 1573 AD).

Judo and Jiu-jitsu

Modern time

Later on during the much romanticized Edo period (1603 – 1868 AD) weapons and armor where a lot less common due to strict regulations set by the shogunate. There are a lot of fictional stories that play during this time. Most of them involve ronin (samurai without a master), as their feudal lords were constantly stabbing each other in the back.

All of a sudden jiu-jitsu made a lot less sense. Now that your assailant is bound to be unarmored you can punch him in the face and kick him in the nuts. The times had changed and the art had to change with it.

Adaptations where made to include techniques like punches, kicks, eye pokes and biting. Towards the end of the Edo period this style was everywhere. They were hence referred to as Edo jiu-jitsu.

In the late 1800s a new government took power. As Japan was westernizing and developing rapidly, its favorite fighting system was left behind. It was a representation of an old era and fell a lot quicker than it rose.

History of Judo: The Gentle Way

The founder of Judo Kanō Jigorō was a highly skilled and distinguished Jiu-jitsu practitioner.

A well learned and smart kid, Kano wanted to learn a martial art for the same reason that so many kids want to learn one today. To defend himself against bullies.


It wasn’t hard for him to realize that Jiu-jitsu’s future was uncertain. It took him years before he could find someone to instruct him. Many practitioners refused to teach, stating that there is no need for such an art in a modern world.

By the time he was ready to take on his own students Jigorō realized something. As a small and meek man he found that Jujitsu was still too physical of an art, not suitable for the people at large to learn.

Jigorō created Judo as his perfect extension of Jiu-jitsu.

He took the principle of ‘seiryoku zen’yō’ (maximum efficiency, minimum effort) from Jiu-jitsu and pushed it to its limit. But one of the difference between Judo and Jiu-jitsu comes from this point, most striking actions were removed from his syllabus. Striking should be to unbalance your opponent so you can effectively grapple with him or her. This is all in line with his principle that ‘soft can control hard’.

Judo should be safe to practice and yet effective in a real life.

Thus Jigorō made more adjustments to his system. These changes would make judo not only ideal for heated sparring sessions but for sports as well.

The sport component of Judo has always been a very important aspect of it. It is exciting to watch and easy for even a layman to appreciate.

Thus it quickly found itself spreading. Judo and Jiu-jitsu gained popularity not only in Japan but in places as far off as Russia and Brazil.

The Biggest Difference

The most prominent difference between judoand jujitsu is the philosophy behind them. Jiu-jitsu though entrenched in spirituality and tradition was formed primarily as a combat system.

It was Kanō Jigorō’s vision to use Judo as a holistic way of instruction in the mental, physical and moral aspects of life.

Though many people forgot it due to the sport’s competitive nature, Judo is for learning and growing the character of individuals from the beginning. Jigorō’s ultimate goal was the betterment of society.

Wrapping It Up

Judo originates from Jiu-jitsu but has evolved into its own art over the decades. The relationship of Judo and Jiu-jitsu can be complex but the principle of controlling your opponent by using his force against him stays the same.

Jiu-jitsu itself not only survived but has also evolved in many ways. It’s a more complete fighting system than judo. At the end of it all, Judo was created as a refinement of Jiu-jitsu to make sure it can survive another century.

And that is exactly what it has done.

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