What’s The Difference Between Old School And New School BJJ?

Ever hear someone mention old-school BJJ? Or maybe someone is mentioning that the new school or sport Jiu-Jitsu won’t work on the streets. In this post, I’m going to talk about the differences between old-school and new-school Jiu-Jitsu.

New school BJJ is what most people are learning today and is primarily taught as a fighting sport that can be used under a set of rules in tournaments. It relies a lot less on self-defense as there are no strikes allowed.

Old school BJJ is what you will most likely see being taught to police officers, relying on more than just a handful of moves to pin down an opponent until they tap out. Old school BJJ has a lot more self-defense built into it and will allow you to comfortably learn how to fight your opponent instead of just pinning and submitting them.

Gracie Jiu-Jitsu could be considered a hybrid of both new school and old school as it teaches self-defense, incorporates strikes into the curriculum, while still evolving with the sport.

This difference has led many people to believe that the new school BJJ is losing the essence of what BJJ is. Many times, citing is just the new hot topic martial arts that people want to learn but not ever effectively use, which is why you need to learn the difference between both. Understanding how they work and where they are used will help you choose the one to fit your needs the best.

What Is Old School BJJ?

Old-school Jiu-Jitsu was originally developed by the natives of Brazil and is an adaptation of Japenese Jiu-Jitsu. It focuses heavily on self-defense against a variety of attacks, which includes punches and weapons. While also focusing heavily on not hurting the person you are fighting if you do not wish to do so.

The Gracie Jiu-Jitsu system could be considered a more old-school approach mixed with new-school as it incorporates self-defense eliminates and teaches the student to be aware of strikes that could occur during a fight, while still evolving with the sport.

You will usually find that old-school BJJ is taught almost exclusively to people looking for full-on self-defense, such as armies, police officers, or lifetime martial arts practitioners. However, old-school BJJ does have a lot of techniques that can be dangerous when fighting against someone in a tournament, or even a freestyle battle.

What Is New School BJJ?

New-school BJJ is current day BJJ which has evolved into both self-dense and sport Jiu-Jitsu. It incorporates new techniques that may not be advantageous in a street fight or if there is any striking allowed in the match. People that use and learn BJJ are usually those looking to either learn how to win tournaments or expand their ground fighting.

It is used in tournaments as a more strategic method to grapple under a set of rules. However, it is because of this that the new style has started to differ so greatly from the old style of BJJ.

This does not mean new school Jiu-Jitsu does not work in the streets, there is just less emphasis on defending against strikes while learning.

The first thing you will hear old-school BJJ practitioners say about the new style is that it has lost most of the essence of what is BJJ. This is because the new style mostly focuses on in-competition grappling and ignores striking.

Further, it teaches just a few of the locks people can be placed into, which are all techniques that do not focus on possibly killing or dislocating body parts.

Why Is Old School BJJ More Aggressive?

Old school BJJ was not subject to a set of rules like current-day Jiu-Jitsu. As BJJ was developed it adopted more and more moves from other fighting styles, becoming more adept at various moves and creating its unique moves to counter others. This meant the BJJ practitioners had to worry about punches, kicks, headbutts, and more.

Back when BJJ was gaining popularity the Gracie’s would challenge anyone that wanted to put their fighting skills or martial arts background to the test.

Old school BJJ was specifically built and developed for troops or police officers that may need to fight other trained people on the streets of the world, or in war zones. It was also developed to be learned easily by recruits that are either going through boot camp or police academies. This is why it became so popular to be taught as a self-defense style, with many people able to quickly outmaneuver their opponents.

Old school BJJ quickly became popular around the world in the 1990s when Royce Gracie won the first, second, and fourth Ultimate Fighting Championships. BJJ has always used more grappling moves than other forms of Jiu-Jitsu and was perfect for people to use when they needed to fight and disarm someone with speed.

Where Can You Learn New School BJJ?

New school Jiu-Jitsu is essentially current day Jiu-Jitsu. The majority of BJJ gyms teach new school Jiu-jitsu techniques as the sport is always evolving and being competitive in BJJ requires knowing and utilizing all aspects.

Unlike old school BJJ, you can most likely learn new school BJJ at most gyms around the world. This version of the style became popular through tournament fights and as such, it is the version that many people will learn. For the common practitioner, this means that they can easily learn this new version of the style.

It is usually harder to find people that are teaching the old school BJJ fighting techniques outside of a few select countries. Because this version of the style is not so much in the public eye it is usually not used out of militaries and other guarding and fighting forces. Naturally, because new style BJJ is spreading so fast and so far it has meant some backlash by older practitioners.

As the style increases in popularity, you may find that people are speaking derivatively about the new style, simply because it does not include the full set of techniques. To some measure, this is true as the style does lose some of the heart of what it was when too many techniques are removed in the common circles.

How Can Old-School BJJ Help You Better Defend Yourself?

While new style BJJ can easily allow you to overcome anyone with less skill, it has one major drawback that makes it dangerous outside of tournaments. The average person will only have the use the skills they get from BJJ once or twice in their lives, which is why it is important to know the safest technique of all fighting styles.

This is a technique that everyone on earth knows, and it is called simply running away from a situation, which is why new style BJJ does not always offer the best techniques. Old style BJJ teaches you how to throw someone, letting you confuse them, disarm them, and allowing you to run away.


It’s important to know what kinds of fighting styles are out there, BJJ has a new and an old school that differs greatly from each other. You should ensure that the applications that you need BJJ for will not require that you simply stick to one fighting style. However, if you are going for a mixed martial arts tournament and already have a few other fighting techniques down, then BJJ will greatly help you.

Whatever you do, don’t try to fight someone twice your size in a dark alleyway, you may get in a few punches but chances are their experience will overwhelm your untested techniques!