Is BJJ a Sport?
One of the biggest questions we hear at Grappling University is whether BJJ is truly a sport or a martial art. The answer is yes to both of these questions. At Grappling University, we refer to BJJ as a martial art and combat sport system.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu as a Martial Art
Before there was Brazilian jiu-jitsu, there was Japanese jiu-jitsu which dates back hundreds of years. Its focus was on using the opponent's weight against themselves and disarming the enemy without causing much harm. As Japanese jiu-jitsu began to spread, other jiu-jitsu schools began adopting their own forms and techniques. This is how BJJ came to be after a man from Japan came to Brazil and taught jiu-jitsu to a local Brazilian man. Japanese jiu-jitsu acts as the foundation for BJJ, so those martial arts techniques, values, and respect come through during BJJ training.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu as a Sport
Many, if not most, people transition from focusing on using BJJ as an exercise and seek to participate in competitions. Shifting toward a more competitive-focused lens also causes a shift in the emphasis and intensity of BJJ training. The sports mindset comes into play when looking at different divisions such as weight class, belt color, age, etc. Those who plan to compete will also be taught very specific rules they need to know and comply with when sparring during BJJ competitions.
How We Blend the Two
At Grappling University, we refer to BJJ as a martial art and combat sport system because we train with both mindsets in mind. We teach our students the foundations of true jiu-jitsu martial art and combine those teachings and techniques with the competitiveness and intensity of BJJ as a sport. Disregarding the jiu-jitsu foundational teachings and focusing only on the sport aspect can lead to untrained and unnecessary blows and attacks, which can lead to harm for both opponents. We focus on helping all BJJ students develop the proper strength, use of technique, and skill so that they can practice BJJ safely, treat it with the respect that a martial art deserves, and compete with the intensity of a sport.