What Does “Jiu-Jitsu” Mean?

The word “Jiu-Jitsu” is a Portuguese transcription of a Japanese word known as “Ju-Jutsu”. What a lot of people who participate in those sport don’t know is that “Ju-Jutsu” stands for “gentle art” or in the context of the martial art, “gentle skill”. On a side note, a lot of these martial arts later become modified into actual sports, many of which serve as a primary way of experiencing physical and mental improvement. As a result, the suffix “do” gets added, which stands for “way” (aikido, judo, and kendo being good examples).


In Jiu-Jitsu, however, the “Ju” doesn’t stand for “do”- it stands for “gentle”. But it doesn’t stand for the word like most people think (like touching some for example). Instead, in Japanese, “Ju” is used to represent the word “yielding”. It is for this reason that BJJ is sometimes referred to as the “Yielding art”. Either way, you need to understand that both the traditional and modern day usage of these terms boils down to the same principles: to emphasize the importance of technique over power.


The reason it is considered a “yielding” sport is because you are essentially yielding your opponent’s strengths (you aren’t trying to match them head-to-head so to speak). In BJJ, it’s very common for you to attack your opponent’s weaknesses. This is why the term “gentle” isn’t used in the context of touching something lightly but instead used in the sense that you’re baiting your opponent into showing you their weakness so that you can attack it.


Basic Principles in Jiu-Jitsu

One of the most fundamental principles in Jiu-Jitsu is staying calm. If you were to watch a sparring session between a black belt and a white belt, you would notice a few dramatic differences. The most obvious one, however, is that the white built will kick, flail, and “freak out” if they get stuck in a bad position. The black belt, on the other hand, will remain level headed, calm, and precise in his or her technique. It’s this ability to wait for a clear opportunity of attack that separates black belts from white belts.


Jiu-Jitsu, when mastered, can help you feel confident defending yourself against bigger, stronger opponents. These techniques can be learned by anyone, regardless of how much athletic experience you have. By learning Jiu-Jitsu, you’ll not only increase your endurance and technique, you’ll also succeed in building confidence and great character.

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