Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, which is often simply referred to as BJJ, is one of the most common grappling arts for mixed martial artists to train in. It is a fantastic system of submission fighting that has evolved along side the sport of MMA since its inception. While you do see many MMA fighters who have a background in other forms of submission fighting, such as Judo or Sambo, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is arguably the most often used base for the submission techniques used by fighters.
In addition to the art being practiced in conjunction with MMA, it is also a stand alone art that is practiced by enthusiasts the world over. BJJ tournaments can be found in almost every part of the world, giving the practitioners the chance to hone their skills.
Now to take a real look at Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, we should probably start at the beginning.
A Brief History of BJJ
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has its roots in the Japanese arts of Judo and Jujitsu and a man named Mitsuyo Maeda. Mitsuyo Maeda was born in Japan in 1878 and began training Judo and Jiu Jitsu in 1895. Later on he traveled abroad and became well known for fighting in many challenge matches. Finally he settled in Brazil with the help of a man named Gastao Gracie. In return for this favor Koma taught Judo and Jujitsu to Gastao’s son Carlos. After years of training, Carlos became a master and later on taught his brothers. One of those brothers was Helio Gracie. Helio later became the figure head of the school and became quite famous in both his home country and through out the world.
The Gracie brothers and their descendants have taught and refined this style of jujitsu through out the years. But now it has spread far beyond just being a family art. There are teachers of Gracie/Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu all over the world, of all different nationalities, and coming from all walks of life.
BJJ Specializes in the Ground Game.
Although BJJ as it was originally taught had all aspects of martial arts incorporated into it, both striking and grappling, the style was and still remains mainly a grappling art that focuses on the ground game with submission of the opponent as the ultimate goal in mind. A master of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is adept at maneuvering himself into a dominant position where he can have control of the opponent’s body. It is from there that he is able to effectively apply one of the many submission holds in his arsenal.
Using BJJ in a MMA Fight.
The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tactics that are used in a MMA fight are going to be a little different than the ones used in BJJ competition. This especially holds true if you are talking about the BJJ used in a competition with the uniform (Gi) on. This is because in Gi competition the uniform is often used to grab hold of your opponents body and maneuver it into the proper position for a submission. You also see some submissions that are completely dependant on the Gi, such as the lapel choke. So it is obvious that without the Gi you will not be able to manipulate the body in the same way. In no-gi grappling and MMA your opponents actual body will provide the handles to grab onto so you can manipulate him into position.
Other things you will need to take into account is the fact that when you are fighting in mixed martial arts, your opponent can strike you. The different scenarios where this could effect the way you apply your Jiu-Jitsuu are numerous. Take for instance escaping the mount by going underneath the leg of your opponent, rather than just trying to regain half guard. If you get stuck half way in this position then you will be in serious trouble. Because now your opponent is on top of you raining down punches with two hands and you only have one to defend with.
How do you prepare for these differences and learn how to apply your BJJ in a MMA fight in the right way? What you want to do is train how you are going to fight. What I mean by that is that you need to get in a lot of sparring sessions without wearing a Gi and with MMA gloves on. Also you should allow strikes both on the feet and on the ground. So by mimicking the conditions of a MMA fight you will quickly learn exactly what BJJ moves you can apply under those conditions.