What is “American Jiu-Jitsu” & Is it Truly So Different from Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?

What is “American Jiu-Jitsu” & Is it Truly So Different from Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?

“American Jiu-Jitsu” is a term that has stirred considerable debate in the martial arts community, particularly among practitioners of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ). The concept was notably brought into the spotlight by figures such as Keenan Cornelius and Jake Shields. The idea behind American Jiu-Jitsu is not just a rebranding but an evolution or adaptation of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, reflecting the unique approaches and innovations developed by American practitioners.

Differences from Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Emphasis on Different Techniques: American Jiu-Jitsu may place greater emphasis on certain techniques or strategies that align with the preferences or strengths of American practitioners.

Adaptation to MMA and No-Gi: It often incorporates elements more suited to mixed martial arts (MMA) and no-gi grappling, which have been popular in the United States.

Controversies and Perspectives:

Keenan Cornelius’s Stance: Keenan Cornelius has been vocal about his preference for the term “American Jiu-Jitsu.” He argues that dropping “Brazilian” and adopting “American” made his academy more successful and reflects the evolution of the sport in America.
Argument of Historical Legacy: Cornelius also provocatively claimed that “American Jiu-Jitsu” is older than Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, sparking debates about the historical and cultural roots of the martial art.
Reactions from the BJJ Community: The rebranding has elicited mixed reactions. Some see it as a natural progression and a way to honor local innovations. Others, like Draculino (a well-respected figure in BJJ), might view it as unnecessary or even disrespectful to the Brazilian roots of the art.

Cultural and Marketing Aspects

National Identity in Martial Arts: The renaming reflects a broader trend in martial arts where styles are often adapted and renamed to reflect national or regional identities.
Marketing Strategy: The change to “American Jiu-Jitsu” can also be seen as a marketing strategy, making the art more relatable or appealing to American students.

American Jiu-Jitsu can be seen as both a distinct evolution of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu suited to American preferences and contexts, and a marketing or cultural rebranding. Its acceptance and definition continue to be subjects of debate within the global Jiu-Jitsu community.