Introduction to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and MMA
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) and Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) have exploded in popularity over the past few decades. While both martial arts focus on grappling and submission techniques, they each have a unique history and approach to training. This article will examine the origins of BJJ and MMA, their shared techniques and strategies, and the benefits of cross-training between the two for the modern martial artist.
The History of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has its roots in pre-World War II Japan. Mitsuyo Maeda, a Judo expert, immigrated to Brazil in 1914 and began teaching the local community. The Gracie family, including Carlos and Helio Gracie, studied under Maeda and went on to develop and spread what would become known as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
BJJ emphasises ground fighting and submission holds, with or without the gi (uniform). While sharing techniques with its parent art, Judo, BJJ utilises more open-guard strategies and a more excellent range of submissions involving joint locks and chokes. The style rose to prominence through its success in the early mixed martial arts competitions of the 1990s.
The Emergence of Modern Mixed Martial Arts
The first Ultimate Fighting Championship brought together different martial arts styles in an open rule system in 1993. Royce Gracie, representing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, relatively easily won 3 of the first four tournaments. This demonstrated the effectiveness of BJJ for MMA competition and led to an influx of grappling techniques into a striking-focused sport.
As MMA evolved through promotions like PRIDE and organisations like the UFC, fighters began cross-training in various disciplines to become true mixed martial artists. Over time, MMA has blended the most effective techniques from arts like Boxing, Kickboxing, Wrestling, Judo, Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
Shared Techniques and Strategies
While MMA incorporates a wider variety of skills, it relies heavily on the grappling foundation of BJJ. Several signature techniques crossover between the two:
Like closed guards, open and half guards provide defensive postures where fighters control opponents from their backs. BJJ competitors will patiently work for sweeps and submissions from the guard. MMA fighters may utilise guards temporarily before returning to their feet.
Passing an opponent’s guard enables fighters to advance to a more dominant position.
Standard passes like leg drag, knee slices and leg weaves are staples of both BJJ and MMA.
Takedowns like double-leg and single-leg shots allow fighters to bring opponents to the mat. While takedowns are trained extensively in MMA, they are crucial in BJJ to initiate ground fighting.
Joint locks and chokes are the hallmarks of BJJ. MMA fighters have mastered classic submissions like the armbar, triangle, rear naked choke and kimura.
Benefits of Cross-Training BJJ and MMA
Any modern MMA fighter would be remiss not to train Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu as part of their preparation. Beyond the technical overlap, cross-training provides strategic advantages:
Well-Rounded Grappling Skills
By combining the depth of BJJ with the wrestling and judo influences in MMA, fighters develop all-around grappling with control and submissions in every scenario.
Realism and Aliveness
MMA training incorporates live sparring with striking, which helps prepare for the realities of competition. BJJ provides refinement of technique and a thorough understanding of submissions.
Going through MMA and BJJ workouts builds core strength, endurance and flexibility beyond sport-specific training alone. Combining high-intensity interval training, strength training, and skill practice provides total fitness.
BJJ and MMA training demand discipline, focus, persistence through discomfort and remaining calm under pressure. Pushing through the rigours of each develops the mental fortitude to succeed on fight day.
Continued Growth and Innovation
The popularity of submission grappling has led BJJ and MMA gyms to pop up worldwide. Competitions like ADCC and promotions like the UFC feature the pinnacle of talent in both sports.
With more crossover and sharing of techniques, the lines between Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and MMA will continue to blur. Both arts will evolve and improve by benefiting from each other’s knowledge. Yet their shared history and unbreakable bond will remain.
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Mixed Martial Arts share intertwining histories and technical foundations that have fueled the growth of both sports. The grappling expertise of BJJ has proven essential for success in modern MMA through legendary champions like Royce Gracie. Meanwhile, MMA has forced BJJ to adapt its techniques under more intense conditions.
By learning from each other, both martial arts continue to improve. Yet no fighter can deny the importance of cross-training in BJJ and MMA to develop themselves into a well-rounded, adaptable competitor. Fusing these fighting styles has produced some of the greatest moments in combat sports history and will undoubtedly lead to many more. At gyms like MMA Gym Stafford Heights, you can experience the synthesis of BJJ and MMA firsthand.