Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has its roots in Vale Tudo competition. For generations Jiu Jitsu fighters faced representatives from other styles in these often brutal ‘no holds barred’ contests.  Eventually, with the effectiveness of the art no longer in question, the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu community began to turn its attention inwards. 

In recent years, modern competition BJJ has grown immensely in popularity. There is now a wide array of competitive formats available to the modern athlete, each with its own ongoing evolution of tactics and techniques as competitors devise new ways to outwit their opponents within the parameters of each individual rule set. 

There has, however, been a downside to this evolution. The ever increasing and expanding branches of Jiu Jitsu competition has inevitably caused division. Major concerns are mostly expressed by the ‘old school’ of Jiu Jitsu. In their opinion the art is losing its efficiency as a fighting style as sport without strikes encourages the practitioner to develop techniques less suitable for a real fight. 

On the other hand, the ‘new school’ counter this argument by pointing out that the modern competitor is far superior to those of decades past because modern techniques and tactics are designed to be used specifically against other high level Jiu Jitsu athletes. 

For years now the debate has continued.
All the time creating more division.
New school or old school?
Sport or self defence?
Points or submission only?
To gi or not to gi?

Essentially what has happened is, over time, the context within which Jiu Jitsu is practiced has changed. ‘Old school’ techniques were designed very much with a striking opponent in mind. With modern BJJ rule sets this is not the case. Here the focus is on beating high level grapplers in a grappling match. To criticise one or the other for failings within a context for which they were not created is foolish. 

The reality is, whether the context is grappling or fighting the goal of Jiu Jitsu remains the same: to survive, control and ultimately subdue. The techniques might differ slightly but the concepts and principles remain constant.
Here is where we find our common thread.
Sport or self defence? Fighting or grappling? Gi or no gi?
The truth is these are all aspects of the same art. Rather than thinking of them as separate branches we should look at them as simply a different set of problems that we will use the art and science of Jiu Jitsu to solve.



An underlying principle of Gracie Jiu Jitsu is that all techniques should be effective for all practitioners regardless of size or athletic ability. This need for functionality led to the development of a simple and methodical approach that focuses on the efficient application of the basics.

Rickson Gracie has dedicated his life to improving the efficiency of those basics. While teaching he demonstrates a deep understanding of the principles and concepts behind the techniques. The precise application of these principles can often be so slight that it needs to be felt to be appreciated. This fits perfectly with his holistic approach to the art. Rickson emphasises the importance of remaining relaxed and calm under pressure. In this way, the practitioner can be sensitive to the movements of the opponent, to flow with them rather than resist. The goal is not to do Jiu Jitsu but to feel Jiu Jitsu.


At BJJ Leiden we are dedicated to building a solid foundation for each practitioner based around the fundamental techniques and concepts as taught by Rickson Gracie. Upon this base the student is encouraged to build a personal game that benefits from and utilizes the techniques and tactics of the arts most modern developments.


Written by Russ Homer