GJJ vs BJJ and the Gracie Jiu Jitsu Belt System

What is Gracie Jiu Jitsu and is there something significantly different in the Gracie Jiu Jitsu belt system than in BJJ? Let’s answer here these questions and maybe even more questions people usually ask.

First things first.

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What does GJJ mean?

GJJ is an abbreviation the same like BJJ. GJJ means Gracie Jiu Jitsu.

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What is Gracie Jiu Jitsu?

Gracie Jiu Jitsu, Gracie University, etc – are copyrighted and trademarked terms. But it happened later. And from the very beginning, Gracie Jiu Jitsu was founded by the legendary martial arts family known for Brazilian jiu jitsu – the Gracie family. It exist since 1925. The Grand Masters Carlos and Helio Gracie are the founders of Brazilian jiu jitsu.

So, why just not say they are a BJJ school?

Because it will be not quite correct to say. The difference is explained by Gracie members as well and is presented here below.

Note: In this article, we compare the Gracie Jiu Jitsu Academy and their Gracie University founded by Rorion and his brothers and now run by his sons - Rener and Ryron - to "other" Brazilian jiu jitsu.
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Why is Jiu-Jitsu called Gracie?

As already mentioned, Gracie Jiu Jitsu is called after its founders – the famous martial arts family from Brazil.

How many types of jiu jitsu are there in Gracie?

The family members often call their style and school by their names: Carlson Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, Renzo Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, Rilion Gracie jiu jitsu, Gracie Humaita, etc. We couldn’t find the exact number of how many Gracie-named jiu jitsu schools are there.

Gracie members were involved in the creation of the UFC championship.

The Gracie schools teach Brazilian jiu jitsu. Here are, for example, BJJ classes in the Renzo Gracie Academy.

Due to a fundamental difference in vision, Gracie jiu jitsu is a term to call the grappling style and philosophy thought in the Gracie Jiu Jitsu Academy instead of BJJ.

Gracie Family tree
(click to enlarge and open in a new tab)

Gracie Family tree
Gracie Family; source Wikipedia
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Gracie Barra vs Gracie University

From the familiarity and relative perspective, both – Gracie University and Gracie Barra – have the same roots, and are members of one family. But many of them open their own schools, which explains the number of jiu jitsu gyms and academies including the name Gracie.

The founder of the Gracie Barra association is Carlos Gracie, Jr. He also created the IBJJF federation.

Gracie Barra tends to be more BJJ than Gracie Jiu Jitsu, meaning it’s more “sports-oriented”.

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GJJ vs BJJ: Are Gracie and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu the same?

Brazilian jiu jitsu was developed by Carlos and Helio Gracie, and other brothers, as a self-defense system. But in fact, they called their system Gracie jiu jitsu (GJJ).

When they came to the US to spread GJJ, at some point a differentiation took place to separate the Gracie and non-Gracie adepts and practitioners. The last one began to use the term Brazilian jiu jitsu.

But to be clear it’s not only about the naming.

All their lifetime Gracie jiu jitsu Academy teaches exclusively jiu jitsu as a self-defense system with street applicability for men and women. They don’t pay much attention to tournaments or jiu jitsu techniques, if even at all.

According to Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy, it is about acquiring the techniques necessary to properly defend oneself against a stronger opponent in a real street fight.

Instead, BJJ is definitely also about self-defense, but more about the spirit of sport, competition, seminars, and camps.

What makes Gracie Jiu-Jitsu different?
Difference between Gracie Jiu Jitsu and BJJ according to Gracie University members:

“The problem is that most of these [modifed BJJ] techniques violate the first guideline of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu – they are not street applicable. The main reason for the divergence from this foundational principle is that these [self-proclaimed BJJ] instructors are creating techniques for sport competition rather than real street fights. Any technique that is designed to work exclusively in a controlled competition with all of their associated rules, weight classes, time limits, safety considerations, and point systems, will give the practitioner a false sense of security since these circumstances are totally non-existent in a real fight.”

Is Gracie Jiu Jitsu better than BJJ or not? It’s not the question to find one truth. It’s about the choice.

Video: What’s the Difference Between GJJ an BJJ?

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The Cracie BJJ belt system

Gracie Jiu Jitsu Belt System
Gracie jiu jitsu belt ranks

When talking about the jiu jitsu belt ranking system take in mind that originally, at the very beginning, it was developed by Helio and Carlos Gracie, so by the Gracie family.

And as you already know, the IBJJF and its belt ranks were created also by the Gracie member – Carlos Gracie, Jr. Obviously, there will be much more similarities than differences between GJJ and BJJ belts.

For the Gracie aka Brazilian jiu jitsu belt system was taken the judo colored system as a basis. The significant difference makes the solid black bar on one of the ends of the belt or the red or white bar for black belts.

Kids and junior Gracie BJJ belt system and approximate conversion to the IBJJF kids belt system

Gracie BJJ belt system
GJJ vs BJJ belts; Image capture from Wikipedia

The Gracie University belt system is distinct from that of sport-oriented schools. […] In most cases, sport belt holders are very comfortable in sport jiu-jitsu matches and controlled sparring sessions.

At Gracie University, belt promotions are based, first and foremost, on the student’s mastery of the techniques that will ensure victory in a street fight. The beginner curriculum, Gracie Combatives, is entirely dedicated to instilling each student with an essential “street fight filter” […] Once a student learns the fundamental techniques […] they are awarded a Gracie Combatives belt.”

Gracie Combatives program is jiu jitsu beginner classes for adults at Gracie University. The program consists of 36 essential techniques of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

A Gracie Combatives belt is a white belt with a navy blue center and is awarded to students who have completed the beginner curriculum.

The BJJ pink belt in the Gracie Brazilian jiu jitsu belt system stands for graduates of the self-defense program for women.

Adult belt colors in GJJ and BJJ are the same: white, blue, purple, brown, and black.

Adult belt colors in GJJ and BJJ
Image capture from Wikipedia
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How long does it take to get a blue belt in Gracie jiu jitsu?

“Generally speaking it takes approximately 8-12 months to earn the Gracie Combatives belt, another 6-12 months for blue belt, and then 3-4 years for each belt after blue. Altogether, it will take anywhere from 8-14 years for you to reach black belt.”

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How much does Gracie Jiu Jitsu cost?

How much are jiu jitsu classes at Gracie Jiu Jitsu University? is an obvious question for those who decided to start training.

According to the information on the Gracie University official site, the monthly cost for an online jiu-jitsu curriculum is from $20 to $99. There is also a possibility to pay per lesson. The price for Gracie jiu jitsu per class is $8-$14.

Gracie jiu jitsu store – https://store.gracieuniversity.com

Rener and Ryron Gracie share their analysis of a street fight video and go into the differences between street and sport jiu-jitsu (BJJ):

Check other BJJ news and articles about jiu jitsu training, BJJ fighters, and MMA athletes. For instance, Female Jiu Jitsu Black Belt Fights against White Belt.

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