Brazilian jiu-jitsu, submission grappling and mixed martial arts are relatively new phenomena, but they are rooted in martial traditions hundreds, and even thousands of years old. Although I choose to train and compete in a modern setting I still believe that there is value in examining the origins of one’s art.
Several years ago I was on the mat with Alex Kask, who is a longtime traditional ju-jutsu practitioner and teacher. As we talked and trained an interesting pattern emerged: I would show him one of my favorite submissions, and then he would show me very similar techniques from a number of traditional ju-jutsu systems. The lineage from traditional ju-jutsu to judo to Brazilian jiu-jitsu to submission grappling became very apparent that evening.
In addition to obvious similarities there were also little differences in how the techniques are typically applied. An example of this might be applying the rear naked choke: in modern grappling the position of choice for this choke is the rear mount. In traditional ju-jutsu this position is generally avoided. I found the discussion about the differences almost as informative as our discovery of the similarities. The differences in technique illustrate the cultural and historical underpinnings of every martial art, including our modern forms of grappling.
This discussion eventually led to an article getting published in Black Belt Magazine called “Submission Grappling vs. Traditional Ju-jutsu”. This article is now available on the grapplearts website, and I hope it is as interesting for you to read as it was for us to research and write.