When I was a kid, I did Karate and it was all about stance, punching, kicking, katas, etc. Now I have started ju jitsu, and it seems it's like almost anything goes. My teacher is teaching us the proper syllabus but also other techniques which are ju jitsu but not quite in the syllabus, such as putting fingers up your opponents nose, and using this to help unbalance them and finally get them on the ground.

So my question is:- Ju jitsu is a combat system, but does it have more "dirty" moves than other martial arts?

  • 1
    Define "dirty"... if I need to defend myself then I don't consider anything to be "dirty".
    – slugster
    Jul 3, 2015 at 9:38
  • I would define it as "nose pulling"?, eye gouging, fish hooking the mouth etc, rather than the traditional kicking punching etc Which I believe are all valid in traditional Ju jitsu. ... Though Very true I would do anything as well whilst defending myself.
    – chris
    Jul 3, 2015 at 10:10
  • Someone teaching to actively do long lasting harm to somebody else is likely to get you on the wrong end of LEO should you ever use it. Please see a defence lawyer in your local for more details. Jul 3, 2015 at 10:12
  • To make it clear, I am not being taught to do lasting harm, these moves arepart of ju jitsu. The teacher has taught us that the primary focus is to get out of the situation.
    – chris
    Jul 3, 2015 at 10:38
  • 2
    Do not accept an answer too soon. I tend to leave it for 24hours at least so as to encourage others to write their own answers. Jul 3, 2015 at 12:03

3 Answers 3


Rules are part of the sport aspect of martial arts. These are generally safety related for competition, although there may be other origins as well. Many of these rules make no sense in a real fighting situation. For example:

  1. Judo - you can't hit people
  2. Tae kwon do - you can't throw people
  3. Boxing - you can't hit people from behind, kick people, or push on the hands

From the point of view of any of these sports, the other sports are dirty. Also in the context of these rules, a real fight will be dirty because there may be punching, kicking, grabbing, and certainly no one is going to stop if they get behind you or the fight goes to the ground.

Consider, however, that just because a technique is "dirty", it does not mean the technique is also effective against uncooperative partners, or that you are sufficiently trained for it to be so.

When judo was founded, Jigaro Kano put a lot of thought into what techniques he thought were effective versus what could be trained without injuring people. At the time, many of the jujitsu schools held the opinion that "our techniques are too dangerous to be practiced on people" -- they were dirty. In the 1880's there was a competition between the dominant jujitsu schools of the time and judo. Judo won handily because its students trained randori (free practice, not prearranged). I am not trying to say anything about judo and jujitsu today; the point is that techniques that were well practiced won against techniques that were not as well practiced.

I don't have the context for trying to put fingers up someone else's nose, but this seems like a gimmick. The nose holes are small and if the other person is moving, this seems like an attack with low success rate. I would think it would be easier to put your fingers in their eyes, bash their nose, or grab their ears. But that is not the important point.

In summary, yes, jujitsu has historically had more dirty techniques because it is not a sport or designed for free practice. But beware of the effectiveness of dirty techniques that you can't verify against resisting opponents.


Some of what you are looking for is in what you mentioned in your answer: Jujitsu is a combat system.

Nothing ever survives translation, but one can generally categorize Japanese martial arts by whether they end in -jutsu or -do (Karate being a special case because of its linege. It is considered more of a -do art, even though it doesn't actually end in that syllable). The -do suffix is typically translated as "the way of _____." The -jutsu suffixed arts are more focused on combat and how to survive in a real fight situation. The -do's have a tendency to seek inner growth more than the -jutsus, which seek more outer power, though don't pretend for an instant that either group of arts don't have both aspects. It's more a question of how they are balanced.

Your art is an interesting one that shows the balance the Japanese look for. "Ju" is typically translated to "softness." Jujitsu is commonly translated as "Soft fighting style," and you see that in its focus on strikes towards sensitive regions (which means you can use less force and still accomplish your goal). Jujitsu had a difficult period where people were not learning it, having little value for the strikes in peaceful modern environments. Kano Jigoro, when he invented Judo, started from this "dying" art, and focused more on the throws avoided strikes. He invented something that was more sport-like, which had more appeal to the Japanese of the day. The focus was balanced more toward inward perfection.

Your art is an interesting example of how you can learn from this history, but never judge a book from its cover. Brazilian Jiujitsu is often considered closer to judo (its closer to judo, but it took its name before the Japanese officially renamed "Kano Jujitsu" to "Judo.")

Remember, only treat these suffixes as hints, not hard and fast rules. However, being a -juitsu, expect jujitsu to contain moves which are more oriented towards winning an engagement. You will be expected to find your own "do," your own way, within the constructs of jujitsu.


I think you meant 'dirty' as moves that are illegal/ against the rules in competitions.

For BJJ and grappling arts alike, there are more opportunities for these 'dirty' moves as compared to TKD, Karate, and etc, just because of the distance between you and your opponent.

Things like eye pokes, pinching, pulling hair, groin attacks, biting and etc are easier to execute when you are close to each other.

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