Recently I have been studying and learning about peptides. It all started from a injury to my knee in judo/bjj. I tore my meniscus and in a previous post I was talking about my options and one of them I mentioned called BPC 157.
I’ve read a lot about it recently and it sounds really cool and maybe even better than PRP.
It’s orally active although you have to take maybe 2x the amount than if you inject it. Some of the other peptides can only be injected.
Very few side effects from most peptides…
For most of them you can’t overdose.
TB500 and BPC 157…
“The more you take the more it’s going to work” says, Jean Francois Tremblay below…
It accelerates the healing process of many things, but they are not so sure how.
Really good for the gut and…
Apparently they made some mice paraplegic and then gave them BPC and they started to regain some movement.
Although some people say it doesn’t work for them.
But from what I’ve learned it didn’t work because they didn’t take enough or they may have gotten poorer quality peptides.
Here are some links to BPC 157 and cartilage repair (both rat studies and human experiences)
Some bioactive peptides derived from Spirulina are under study for their ability to offer specific health benefits, such as antimicrobial, antiallergic, antihypertensive, anti-tumor, and immunomodulatory properties. Source.
And chlorella is on the way. Has some cool growth factor in it called CGF.
I remember being tied down to a stretcher totally wrapped up in sheets with my whole face covered except for a small place for my nose and mouth.
I couldn’t see and I couldn’t move.
Then during surgery he dropped a piece of cartilage that he cut out from my nose into my mouth.
After that I had to stay in the hospital for a day or two in an uncomfortable position and then I couldn’t breath through my nose at all for like a month and to top it off I don’t think it improved anything.
So you’ve read about the red and white zones right?
Conventional medicine says that if your tear is in the red zone it can heal (or be repaired) and if it is in the white zone it can’t heal.
Is that completely true?
Before I tell you about that…
Here’s one thing you can do.
1. SURGERY (stitch it or cut some out)?
You have 2 basic options for surgery (depending on the surgeon).
Here’s the first.
Shall we ‘trim’ your meniscus?
I wouldn’t do a partial meniscectomy.
This is where they remove the torn bit. It can reduce your symptoms very quickly, but…
I read very little good about this. And this is the more likely thing a surgeon will do.
Although some people can quickly return to sport and feel fine (see the Reddit thread link below), but the chance of early onset arthritis years later is high.
I remember one study that said that there was no better outcome between partial meniscectomies and sham surgeries.
If you cut it out (even a little) you alter the biomechanics of the knee. And one source said even cutting out as little as 10% increases risk of OA.
That was a Regennex (kind of PRP) video I think so they may have some self interests to say so, but other studies still said the more you cut out the greater your risk of arthritis.
If you cut it out you’ll have less cartilage where you are supposed to have it.
The other option for surgery…
Shall we try to ‘stitch’ it back together?
There seems to be a shift towards stitches when possible since the studies show that partial meniscectomy often leads to arthritis.
But it depends on the doctor.
Repair does sound better.
But it’s still not without risk.
Some doctors say that stitches and repair won’t work if the tear is in the white zone (non-vascular part) of the meniscus.
I would avoid these doctors as there are techniques out there…
Others say it can work and there are different techniques to encourage bleeding to help it heal.
I saw one Youtube video (sorry can’t remember which one) of a before and after stitch (1 year later) in the ‘white zone’ that healed.
You could see a scar of the stitch mark in the healed part (scoped).
And this also suggests (to be mentioned below) that the non-vascularized part of the meniscus does have some healing potential.
Which goes against popular opinion.
I read that in one study there is still a chance of 25% of failure or second op with repair. I saw two surgeons here in Fukuoka. One said he would go in and try to stitch it, but if the condition was bad cut it out.
I didn’t like that.
But I think a lot of surgeons will say that.
I saw a second one and he seemed against partial men. and pro stitches. But repair is like 5 months out and like 6 weeks on crutches.
And you are still placing a lot of trust in someone.
Both surgeons said PRP was like the 2nd best option but remember they are orthopedic surgeons.
Ask a surgeon what you should do he will probably say, “surgery” because that’s what he does.
There are some surgeons who will use stitches that don’t dissolve and even one guy in the linked-to thread below said he has anchors left in his knee from the surgeon that he can feel when he walks around.
I met one guy (Absenceofgoodnames) in this thread I started that had multiple surgeries on his knees and suggested that I wait. That might have affected me as there were some in that thread that had bad experiences with surgery and a fewer number not.
So I would do thorough research (and on your doctor and his methods) before trying any surgery.
Because different doctors have different methods and beliefs about what works and doesn’t.
Based on what I learned…
Maybe consider surgery especially if:
the tear is unstable
there is catching or locking
But maybe consider some other options first despite your pain and desire to ‘fix it’ now because it might not actually fix it and it could make it worse.
Yet, if you don’t do anything there is a chance that you will get arthritis too.
Unfortunately, there are 800,000 meniscus tears in the US annually, but only 10% are repaired. Source.
2. PRP (inject your own blood into the knee) or stem cells
I would try this first before any surgery and I can now say that I have done something like this.
I withdrew my own blood and injected it in my knee 2 times successfully and failed two other times.
Probably not something you want to try, but I did since…
The price is high here in Japan at $1000 for one shot which may help but one shot may not be enough. Some recommend 3-4 shots.
I can tell you that your whole blood probably has plenty of platelets in it as one of the times that I failed injecting it was because the blood coagulated in the syringe and wouldn’t come out.
PRP or whole blood makes sense cause think about it…
If you do your research you’ll read that only 1/3 of your meniscus gets blood so the other part can’t heal.
This is everywhere on the web.
That’s what all the orthopedics will say.
Like I said everyone is biased including doctors because it’s in their interests to do surgery as that’s how they get paid (usually).
Sometimes they may get paid regardless like here in Japan with public healthcare, but it’s still their training.
Some people (including doctors) are more conventional in their beliefs and others lesser so.
Convention is likely old medicine and that’s likely what your average doctor is practicing.
Your synovial fluid has some blood cells in it and STEM CELLS.
So I am a little skeptical when orthopedics say… “your meniscus can’t heal because there is no blood flow”.
There is some truth to it, but…
It’s not a dead thing inside of you.
Based on my research I think it probably does have some healing abilities since there are blood cells in it, but maybe not a lot.
One thing I have been wondering is…
WHY THE F*CK DON’T THEY JUST INJECT BLOOD INTO YOUR KNEE?
Yeah, PRP, but just blood would help too.
I don’t get that.
Some doctors do do it, but it is not common.
Maybe it’s because this is medicine and like education or government these institutions are slow moving and slow to change despite evidence…
Can PRP help treat old meniscus tears?
IDK. But I talked with one surgeon here in Japan who said that he thought it helps with new tears but not old tears.
I am sure it won’t hurt and in my experience injecting whole blood into my knees it actually increased pain for a few days and I’ve read that is the same with PRP despite the fact that they say it is anti-inflammatory.
You can expect it to cause more pain in the short term.
As injecting a fair amount of fluid in there will increase pressure in the joint too.
And one thing that I learned that some surgeons do in the case of repair (sutures) for an old tear is they rough the edges of the tear up before stitching to stimulate healing.
Kind of like if you glue two smooth surfaces together the seal will be less likely to hold than if you scratch it up a bit.
Which also reminds me that prolotherapy (mentioned below) is said to cause healing by inflammation.
So used in conjunction with PRP it may help, but more on that and peptides later.
Better than PRP or whole blood would be ‘STEM CELLS’
But those are going to cost you more. Like maybe 2-5 times as much as PRP.
Joe Rogan had them injected in his knee (mentioned in his podcast with David Sinclair) and Conor McGregor had them done for his ACL.
3. WAIT (stay off it and let your body try to heal it without surgery)
When it hurts you don’t want to wait, but chances are it will get better… if you wait. If you go back too soon you will make it worse and then you are going backwards.
Just stay off it.
Maybe even get some crutches for a while.
When it hurts more sit down or lie down and wait and rest.
Don’t push through it.
But your doctor may tell you it won’t heal…
The first tear I had in 2015.
I stopped bjj/judo for 2 months. It healed about 90% it’s original…
Then starting about 9 months ago (2019) I think I might have torn it again mildly.
Then there was a slow downward progression with it getting worse with occasional popping and a little pain probably cause I didn’t stop and let it heal.
Then one night POP, POP, POP trying a reverse triangle choke.
I went to the doctor. Got radiated with an X-Ray and then an MRI which said a medial meniscus tear.
The same spot as the first.
So perhaps that spot was weakened from the first or it didn’t completely heal the first time or I just re-tore it again in the same spot.
I think it probably didn’t completely heal.
Will it heal on it’s own?
I think that depends on the tear type. From what I’ve gathered it doesn’t necessarily mean it won’t heal on its own if it’s in the ‘white zone’.
But if the tear is big and open then maybe that’s harder to heal on its own.
And unfortunately I don’t think there is any way of knowing the true condition of the tear without going in with a scope.
And your doctor probably won’t go in and let you look at it to decide what to do even though that might be best.
THINGS YOU CAN DO WHILE YOU WAIT (what I am doing)
These are some things I am doing and whether or not you have surgery they will help.
Fasting because it boosts stem cells (24 hours or more). Then eat really healthy. The first time I tore my meniscus I did a 3 day fast.
Drinking lots of green tea (especially matcha) because studies show it increases stem cells in skin, helps form bone and cartilage, and reduce inflammation.
Taking lots of spirulina (amino acids). It’s an anti-inflammatory and good for your bones. I’ve been taking like a small handful of tablets a day recently. If I had to chose 2 survival foods it would be spirulina and sweet potatoes. Also chlorella has some growth factor in it CGF which helped grow some chickens in Korea faster.
Cacao improves vascularity (nitric oxide), may release growth hormone and like green tea and the algae above helps reduce inflammation. High amounts of epicatechins (in tea and cacao) may also reduce weight and increase strength.
Colostrum (10+ grams) increases IGF-1.
Go to a sauna or steam room regularly because a sauna increases growth hormone. It’s like lazy man’s exercise.
A science backed injury diet combined with fasting to boost stem cells and heal your injuries
Studies of the nutraceutical formulation NT-020 (a combination of blueberry extract, green tea extract, carnosine, and vitamin D3) has demonstrated that NT-020 is beneficial in supporting repair mechanisms following an injury. – Source
Drink tons of green tea (especially matcha) and/or get a green tea extract
Eat loads of blueberries and/or get a blueberry extract
Eat turkey, beef, chicken or pork for carnosine and/or if you don’t like meat…
Eat loads of spirulina. Actually it will get stuck in your teeth like crazy so you might not want to do that, but you can just swallow them or I just let them dissolve in my mouth as I like the taste.
Vitamin D3: oily fish, eggs, fortified milk, + mushrooms AND put them in the sun for up to 14 hours
So if fasting or calorie restriction stimulates stem cells in mouse intestines, lungs and stimulates stem cells in muscles and humans have increased stem cells in their synovial fluid following an injury then I am going to jump to the conclusion that fasting or calorie restriction is going to help you heal your meniscus.
Yet for how long? Or how often? IDK. But those mice were calorie restricted for weeks.
A one day fast will help, but maybe a one day fast once a week for a month will help more.
And sleep more.
You need to rest before the rehab so don’t push it too soon.
You can do some basic leg lifts to the front, side and back. A lot of reps and work your muscles without stressing your knees like you would in a squat.
Here’s one I have been doing. I think this has helped too because it is not high impact on the knees and I’ve noticed how it’s strengthened my foot and calf muscles.
Think it’s a pretty good whole leg exercise and maybe even abdomen some.
Also a good idea to work on what you can because that will increase your own growth hormone and circulating hormones in the body.
Like for example…
You may not be able to do much for your legs now, but can you work on your stomach? Upperbody? Back?
Do what you can.
Even though I stopped doing squats and box jumps I still could do these one leg exercises in the video above and I could work on my stomach and do some isometric exercises for my upper body.
Also have a shoulder injury (re-injured old injury) so couldn’t consistently do pushups or pull-ups, but I could do some muscle contractions, wall pushes or pulls.
So do what you can.
And you might need to let it rest before you can do anything.
Here’s a good gentle one…
Do this exercise as it helps lubricate the knees and helps transport nutrients in the knee. I did this daily for a year after I tore my meniscus the 1st time. And just got a reminder to do it again.
How does the meniscus get its nutrition?
So I looked at a few papers. And what I gathered is that it gets it from synovial fluid, possibly the underlying bone and peripheral part that gets blood flow.
And I read one source that says there are blood cells in synovial fluid and another that said only minimal blood cells.
The transport of solute from the joint cavity into the cartilage can take place by two mechanisms:
(1) pure diffusion due to solute concentration gradient and (2) by mechanical pumping action. Source
…vascular recession does not significantly alter nutrient levels in the meniscus, reducing at most 5% of the nutrient content in the central portion of the tissue. Therefore, our analysis suggests that reduced vascularity is not likely a primary initiating source in tissue degeneration. However, it does feasibly play a key role in inability for self-repair, as seen clinically. Source
And remember those stem cell shots mentioned above?
Well, guess what you actually have some there right now.
So that suggests that even though there is no blood flow the synovial fluid does contain nutrients although lower in number.
Although relatively uncommon, spontaneous healing from a meniscus injury has been observed even within the avascular area. Source
Also… I am looking into…
5. Peptides (BPC 157 and TB500) to name a few
As of now I haven’t made a post about this yet, but I will.
Peptides are one of the cheaper options and in my research possibly better than PRP, surgery, stem cells, etc. But there is not many studies on them with humans.
TB500 and BPC 157 as well as others have shown in animal studies that they can repair and regenerate cartilage, ligaments and bone.
I’ve been using the peptide BPC 157 and injecting it in my knee or around my knee.
It’s a peptide that is in your stomach acid originally, but is made in a lab and has 15 amino acids. I read quite a few favorable stories about this and cartilage repair.
My experience has been…
Like I said I hobbled around for about 6 weeks before I noticed much improvement.
Around the 6 week mark I did my first DIY blood injection mentioned above. And then around 7 weeks I started BPC.
I have seen improvement with a decrease in pain later in the day. Previously I had more pain standing and walking later in the day after 3 or 4 pm.
Before walking felt more sketchy. Like if I wasn’t careful I could twist it a certain way and re-injure it.
It’s feeling more stable and strong. As of now I’ve been using it for about 3 weeks. Mostly injecting it 3 times a day (short half life of 4-6 hours), but recently I’ve been squirting it in my mouth.
It’s not as strong orally so you should double the dose. I had no side effects really see the post I made on BPC 157 (coming soon).
It’s like a mix of saline or sugar injection that causes inflammation and then maybe healing. Not sure about it. Haven’t read much about this, but one doc was talking about combining it with testosterone and another with PRP.
Sounds less convincing than most other injections to me although better than something like cortisone or hyaluronic acid as the later are temporary fixes.
WHAT DOES A MENISCUS TEAR FEEL LIKE?
It effin hurts.
It feels a bit like a big cut and bruise in your knee.
Imagine if you sliced your foot open and then you walked around on barefoot on it.
That’s what it feels like.
Some people get catching and locking. Recently when I re-injured it I got some catching I think in certain positions. Although I haven’t experienced that lately that was closer to the time of injury.
Often on the ground and in newaza and BJJ sometimes. I would feel something hitting or snapping in there. It didn’t ever lock and I don’t want to push it there.
So we are chilling out until 100%. I hope I can get back to 100%.
I’ve had so I am being more cautious with this and feel like I have to intervene and do something. So I’ve so far done 2 blood injections and many injections of BPC 157.
I haven’t been training in almost 9 weeks.
What should you do?
I wouldn’t rush and I wouldn’t do a partial meniscectomy or if you do that definitely follow up with stem cells or peptides.
I would probably only do surgery if you can’t move your leg or it’s locked, but look for a doctor that will stitch it and make sure you clear that with your doctor.
Because maybe they will say that they will try that, but if they can’t stitch they will remove the torn part.
I don’t know about you but I don’t like that uncertainty.
You don’t want to wake up without a meniscus.
It’s up to you.
I don’t know what’s best.
As I write this my knee starts to hurt more, lol maybe cause I over did the standing and rehab today. It’s been 2 months and I think it’s getting better definitely in the last few weeks (peptides and blood??)
And I will try some more peptides and maybe more blood, but I wonder still about surgery or fear that I could re-injure it again.
It’s hard to know what’s best.
I thought about giving all these things a try that I am planning on and then going back to get another MRI ($70 here in Japan) to see if it healed the tear.
And then I could rub it in the face of conventional medicine.
Some studies show that some people have tears in their knees, but manage fine and have no symptoms. Although some surgeons say they may be more likely to re-tear if untreated.
That’s why they cut it out or stitch it.
And I would also look into PRP, stem cells or peptides to help it heal.
Also waiting and resting will likely help some.
And if you are considering surgery I’d see the Reddit thread for possible outcomes.
Oh yeah think that’s where I first heard of BPC 157.
P.S. Are you a grappler?
Both tears happened with big fat careless f*&@! (YES, I AM BITTER ABOUT IT) who tried jumping moves:
Kani basami (scissors throw)
Both have a history of knee injuries. Very dangerous and stupid to do. Now illegal in judo for that reason.
On Monday I did this competition again. This was the 2nd time. I had a tie and only got a half a point. So now I have 2.5 points.
This was taken from the other day when I did a judo competition at the Fukuoka Budokan. This competition is called “shodan shinsa” and it’s a test where if you get a certain number of wins you can qualify for a black belt.
It’s a bit anxiety producing and if you ever competed before you will know.
This was a draw.
Neither myself or opponent won so I only got a half of a point and was eliminated. If you lose or tie you get eliminated. To lose is zero points. In my first one I won two matches.
I almost got some submissions. An arm lock from reverse triangle in the beginning, but the ref called matte right when I was about to get it.
And another armbar, almost but not that time my technique might have needed an adjustment.
In judo they call matte pretty quick when you are on the ground.
I’ve practiced both BJJ and judo. I currently live and train in Fukuoka, Japan, but started in San Francisco, CA.
I made this video out near Meinohama beach. There is an area that I like going to and I rode around on my bike and talked. Later I added some footage of myself practicing judo and BJJ mostly in Japan, but there is some from CCSF.
What judo is mostly
First let’s start with the goal.
Ippon is the goal and that is either a throw where the opponent lands on his back, a pin or a submission.
Kodakan judo was a complete grappling program, but nowadays judo is mostly stand up grappling and throws. The rules to judo have changed over the years to partly suit the needs of television viewers.
Watching ground grappling was boring, but watching someone getting thrown is exciting. So they changed the rules to please the TV viewers – so my former sensei Mitchell Palacio said.
In a judo competition a person can win by ippon which is either a throw where the opponent lands on his back, a pin, or a submission.
If the fight goes to the mat and there is no submission within a certain amount of time they will stand them back up again.
What’s judo practice like?
It depends on the school. At CCSF in San Fran, practice starts with some running and light calisthenics, then forward rolls, ukemi: side and back falls, then maybe the teacher will teach techniques, uchikomi: drilling the throw without throwing, nagekomi: letting your partner throw you and then finally randori.
That was at CCSF.
I have been training at Fukuoka univ. and that’s higher level judo. Some stuff is similar to CCSF, but more intense and I didn’t see anyone teach a throwing technique.
Maybe cause all of them were black belts (except me) and it is assumed that you know all of them.
There practice looks something like this:
Warm up: stretching, falling, rolling, walking, running, walking on your hands, cartwheels, etc.
5 minute intense interval exercises: jumping, running in place, push ups, sit ups, burpees, side steps, mountain climbers, etc. (It gets the blood flowing!)
Uchikomi – drilling the throwing technique without the throw
Nagekomi – letting your partner throw you often 5 times and then switching
Different kinds of randori – free sparring sessions
Something where one person has to fight many people in a row without a break
Newaza – ground sparring where you try to pin or submit your partner
So far out of the 4 classes I have been to there hasn’t been much newaza. One day they practiced some pins from the turtle position and another did newaza sparring.
All of my judo practices have been 2 hours.
The place where I train now is called Sekiryukan and we don’t really do much of a warm up. You can on your own and then we do uchikomi or newaza sparring and then tachiwaza or standing randori.
What jiu-jitsu is mostly
First off you should know that jiu-jitsu or “BJJ” evolved from judo. However, it’s focus is newaza.
The goal of jiu-jitsu is a submission. Unlike judo a pin or throw can’t end the match or win it.
What’s jiu-jitsu practice like?
It depends on the school. Some schools have an intensive workout and others not.
Many have a warm up like this:
Shrimps (sometimes in reverse)
Side shrimp (not that common and difficult)
Back fall with technical stand up
Then the teacher usually teaches some techniques and you get to practice them with a partner.
Then sometimes there is drilling where you start in a certain position try to escape and/or submit your partner.
Sometimes there is a king of the mountain where the winner stays and the loser goes. And others where one person stays regardless of if they win or lose.
Then there is sparring. You are free to spar with your classmates. The times are often 6 minute rounds although I have seen 2 minute rounds at CCSF and at another school when it is busy.
Sensei Palacio at CCSF has a sort of nagekomi version of jiu-jitsu where you let your partner do a few moves and then switch.
I think that is cool. You choose the technique. I haven’t seen this at any other school.
Jiu-jit$u is more profit driven
BJJ is more profit driven. It’s more of a money making scheme. It’s more entrepreneurial.
Judo on the other hand is not. In Japan it’s part of the school system. Many students will choose whether to do kendo or judo.
That’s part of the school system. I know judo and kendo are both part of many school systems and I had friends in Japan that both did kendo and judo in school.
So it’s kind of like wrestling in the USA which is also part of the school system. Not in all schools, but in many.
Here are some examples from here in Fukuoka, Japan where I am currently. I have been to 3 different places inquiring about judo.
Meidoukan. Charges 10,000 Yen ($100) a year plus an additional fee of 1,900 Yen a month I think. You can train 3 days a week.
Sekiryukan. Charges 3,500 Yen a month and you can train 3 days a week.
University of Fukuoka. Now I just walked into this place and it’s quite impressive. It has a huge bright yellow and red mat and so far they haven’t asked me for any money.
So you can see that it’s cheaper.
BJJ on the other hand is entrepreneurial.
I currently pay 10,800 Yen ($100) a month to train at Axis jiu-jitsu.
Tri-Force jiu-jitsu charges the same.
I went to another place called Carpe Diem and the guy said 20,000 Yen a month. And I thought the guy was trying to take advantage of the dumb new foreigner in town…
So I left.
I train at Axis jiu-jitsu now for 2 reasons. One it’s closer to my house and two the sensei invited me to train for free on my first day.
The other 2 schools in Fukuoka wanted me to pay right away.
I guess in the USA I got used to a free first class.
In San Francisco I used to train judo and jiu-jitsu a lot at City College which is almost free or is free now I think.
I also trained at Romelo Melo occasionally which was like $160 a month or $130 when I signed a contract for my first year.
I don’t like contracts though and after 14 months there I went to CCSF to learn some judo and jiu-jitsu.
Caeser Gracie was like $120 for a few months.
Evolve jiu-jitsu was like $130 I think, but I only went there for the free open mats on Friday.
Ralph Gracie was like $180 a month, but I only went to a few open mats in Berkeley and once in downtown SF.
So jiu-jitsu costs more money and it’s more entrepreneurial.
Jiu-jitsu is also more branded like: 10th planet, Gracie, Alliance, etc. In judo there are no brands.
Judo is judo.
Judo is usually more academic and less profit driven
You can probably train judo somewhere for free actually. Well, you might be able to depending on where you are. I did. City College in San Francisco is now free as far as I know. When I started there it was like $80 a semester.
Certainly there are places that will make you pay for judo probably like BJJ, but I haven’t been there. Where I currently train in Fukuoka, Japan costs about $30USD a month. On top of that I have been a guest at a couple of universities and a high school in Japan for free.
I also entered a competition for judo shodan for free.
Competitions in BJJ can cost quite a bit like maybe $100. The only BJJ competitions that I did where at City College and those were pretty cheap like maybe $25 if I remember correctly.
Are the mat’s the same?
Mats will vary from gym to gym, but in my experience I’d say that BJJ mats tend to be softer which may seem ironic. Both the surface of the mat and the cushion part of the mat tend to be softer in BJJ gyms.
And judo mats tend to be more firm, but sometimes have springs in the floor. Judo mats tend to also have rougher surface material on them too. One thing that I have noticed about the really soft mat where I currently train BJJ is that doing stand up techniques like throws and moving around is more difficult cause the floor is spongy like.
Are the gi’s the same?
At first glance it may look as if the gi’s are the same. They are similar, but judo gi’s have a longer skirt – the part of the jacket below the belt.
White is the traditional color and blue is also usually acceptable at least for competition.
Jiu-jitsu gi’s have a shorter skirt and the gi’s tend to have a lot of advertising on them with logos and what not.
In jiu-jitsu there are:
And probably more.
But in judo it’s only white and blue. Logos are not common like in BJJ, but some companies do put smaller logos on their gi’s like “Mizuno”.
And then in Japan the judoka’s often put their name on the back of the jacket.
Also another slight difference is what people wear under their gi’s. In judo most males do not wear anything under their gi, but in jiu-jitsu I would say many males wear t-shirts or rash guards under their gi’s.
What are the belts like?
In BJJ you have five belt colors: white, blue, purple, brown and black. Some schools also place stripes on belts to measure progress through the belts.
The belt colors are similar around the world.
In judo you have some variance of the belt colors depending on the school and country. Where I trained at City College in San Francisco we had: white, green, brown (w/ 3 degrees) and black.
I have also seen students from other academies and countries wearing yellow (which might be a youth belt) and blue belts which might be higher than green belts.
In Japan there’s usually only white and black belts. At the youth level there may be some schools that use brown and green.
There are also certain levels of black belts called degrees in BJJ and dans in judo. In judo a very high level black belt may receive a red belt at 9th or 10th dan, but these high ranks are rare.
How long does it take to get a black belt?
In BJJ most say it takes 10 years, but it really depends. I know brown and purple belts who have been practicing for 10 years. I even met a blue belt who said he had been practicing for 10 years.
If you are extremely gifted and you practice often It can take less time.
In judo it’s generally easier to get a black belt called a shodan. It depends on the school – always and you.
My teacher at CCSF said you can do it in 2. Judo is more academic so it seems like if you just apply yourself every semester and do the tests you can level up. But most took around 5 years there I think.
Here in Japan you have to do a competition called shodan shinsa. You have to win 4 times and do the kata.
Judo is more formal and there are more rules
As mentioned earlier it’s common to bow in judo when stepping on the mat or at the beginning or end of class. Traditionally you either sit on the mat kneeling or cross legged.
If you don’t your teacher might yell at you.
In jiu-jitsu I haven’t been to a school that told me to sit a certain way. It’s just generally more relaxed and less formal.
If you’re belt comes undone then you tie it back up and tuck your gi in. If your belt comes undone in BJJ it doesn’t really matter in fact many people will just take it off. And throw it to the side.
If you try that in judo you will probably get yelled at like I was once.
In judo there are certain ways of bowing and beginning randori, competitions and even uchikomi sometimes. You bow and step in with your left foot first and then your right and then “hajime!” begin.
When you finish you step out with your right foot first and then your left and then bow.
At the end of the class you bow out usually and hands at your side left foot back to your knee, right foot back to your knee while on your toes and then point your toes back and come to seiza – kneeling.
To get up you get off your butt, get on your toes and then step your right foot forward and then left and stand.
Should you bow or handshake?
In jiu-jitsu it’s common to shake hands with your classmates in some dojos and then again when you leave. And in all of the dojos that I have ever rolled in you always slap hands and then fist bump your partner before you spar.
In judo shaking hands is not common.
I remember when I first started judo after about a year of jiu-jitsu. I went to the class and tried shaking my teachers hand and he just kind of looked at me in a cold and indifferent manner and offered me a limp hand.
I don’t think he liked hand shakes.
In judo you bow and it’s called “rei”. You often bow in the beginning of class and at the end and at those times you sometimes kneel and “bow”. Sometimes you bow when you step on and off the mat.
You usually bow when you do randori with your partner too.
What’s the difference between judo newaza and BJJ?
Well, as far as Kodakan judo goes I’ll make some generalizations here based on my experience. Of course a judoka could train Kosen judo which is uncommon and that could affect their style or maybe they also train BJJ or wrestling.
A lot of the judokas are going to go for a pin if you “roll” (BJJ term) with them and when they pin you they might stop because they won in their mind. Their are a lot more pin positions in judo that aren’t commonly used in BJJ.
They tend to be top dominant and don’t play guard.
They might roll over and give you their back which doesn’t happen in BJJ.
They might be faster and more aggressive. Not sure why it seems that way, but maybe because there is a time limit in judo for newaza.
There are also shorter sparring rounds in judo which have been 2-3 minutes and in jiu-jitsu 5-6 minutes. Kosen judo competitions are 6 minutes long.
Kosen judo has a different rule set that allows for more newaza and some of the techniques currently forbidden in Kodokan judo.
It is more akin to old judo.
You can pull your opponent to the ground (kinda like pulling guard in BJJ)
You can do ashi garame which is not allowed in kodakan judo and in some BJJ competitions.
You can’t do any leg submissions.
You can win by ippon: pin, submission, or clean throw.
This test for judo is called “shodan” shinsa. Shodan is the first level of the black belt in judo. I did this test in Fukuoka, Japan yesterday.
In America and at least where I started judo at CCSF there is a different ranking system for belts.
And brown belts have 3 degrees. And then of course black belts have varying degrees going upwards of maybe 9 or so degrees.
But in Japan there is only:
There are no colored belts between white and black.
To get a black belt or even the next level of black belt you have to do a test. And this test varies for adults and children. For adults you have to compete and fight against others who are also competing for a black belt.
It’s a single elimination competition which means if you lose once you’re out. And you have to accumulate enough points and your first time that is 4.5 points which means you have to win like 4 or 5 times in a row.
If you don’t you can try again at the next competition.
I get a lot anxiety and anticipation and all the fears like: getting hurt, this isn’t that important, why should I do this, I am going to lose, I’m not good enough – all those fears that other people get.
But amongst all those negative thoughts and feelings – actually most of the time it’s a feeling – kind of like public speaking or a performance if you have ever done that.
But I try to inject into my mind some positive thoughts too like:
“You’ll probably win or learn something” which was true.
But when the fight starts the feelings are gone and you are in the moment.
I did win two and I did learn something about the rules and about how I can work on my tani otoshi counter.
Getting a black belt isn’t the ultimate goal. The goal is to learn and have fun doing so. Although I am not sure it’s always fun, but 99% of the time it makes me feel better.
Like the competition it would have been easier to just say no I don’t need to do this because I have done that before with jiu-jitsu competitions, but I knew that if I did it I would feel better.
It’s just about pushing through those fears and discomfort.
I am also happy that I got a couple of throws because I am better on the ground and have about 4 times the amount of experience and hours doing BJJ than I do judo tachi waza (throws).
There is another competition like this in November and I will probably do it because I started it so now I feel like I have to finish it.
Occasionally some people will win 4 or 5 matches in a row and get the black belt, but my friends tell me more often than not it can take 2-3 times.
I know one that said it took 7 times as a teen, another 4 times and another who actually won 6 in a row on his first time for shodan, but then said for yon dan (4th degree) it took him 3 or 4 times.
Judo is actually called “the gentle way”
Yep, but it doesn’t look or feel gentle most the time. But what is meant by that I think is finding the opening for a move or submission or where the opponent is off balance for a throw. Like in the pic above in the thumbnail to this video.
I threw that guy with an osoto gari.
He was stronger, probably weighed more, more aggressive and a bit spastic, but I found the path of the least resistance and threw him there and that’s judo – finding and seeing the openings and then capitalizing on them.
Lucky me. In a previous post I got to see a kosen judo competitiion here in Fukuoka, Japan. This is a rare style of judo that emphasizes newaza (ground techniques) so it’s similar to BJJ or is it that BJJ was inspired from kosen judo?
Here’s a picture from then.
You can see me above in the back right and to my left is Tsukamoto-san and second in the back left is Amamiya-san. Those two I train with often at Sekiryukan in Hakata. They are 3rd and 4th degree black belts.
Last Saturday I went with a couple of my dojo members from Sekiryukan to Kyushu university to practice Kosen judo from about 9:30 to 12:30.
Here are a few clips from the lesson.
And then after I went to a beach in Meinohama, Fukuoka. I went for a swim and it was nice. I also saw a lot of feral cats.
This is a Kosen judo competition between the former “imperial” universities in Fukuoka, Japan.
Kosen judo has a different rule set from the standard kodokan judo rule book. Kosen judo allows for more newaza (ground fighting). Kosen judo is basically “old” judo.
The new rules to judo have become stricter and stricter. Unlike kodokan judo you can pull guard, and attack the legs for single leg takedowns, leg picks and more.
One of the guys from my new judo dojo here in Fukuoka told me about the competition and we went together. He trained kosen judo at Kobe university. Kosen judo is more like BJJ, but with the throws and is perhaps a little more simpler than modern day BJJ.
There are no leg locks in Kosen judo, but you can do ashi garame and I saw many players doing something like an ankle hold or my friend said heel hold.
The matches were 6 minutes long and the winner would stay. The coach would chose who would fight next. I think the team with the most points would be the one to win.
I didn’t learn all the rules, but there was a tie between Osaka university and Tohoku university.
So I came over here to Fukuoka, Japan about 5.5 months ago. I started off training a lot of jiu-jitsu and tried to get a visa through that school, but it didn’t work out.
Probably cause it was “Brazilian” jiu-jitsu. There’s not much of a difference between judo newaza and BJJ as BJJ was derived from judo.
I tried to explain to the immigration officer how there were only like 5 teachers between me and Jigoro Kano – founder of judo. Yet, it didn’t work.
But that’s o.k. because I was planning on training judo too.
Ironically there are more places here to train BJJ than there are judo. Judo is popular in the school system, but after school it’s not that popular. I only found like 2 places in all of Fukuoka where adults could train compared to like 5 or more places for BJJ.
It cost me $40 to get my residence card after I received my COE (certificate of elgibility). I had to do a second application that looked almost identical to the COE, but was for a a change in residence status.
It took about a month to process after my application was submitted. I didn’t have to leave the country to get a new visa like I had to in China, Korea and Taiwan when I taught English there. I heard you could get these for karate or aikido too. And maybe for stuff like: archery, tea ceremony or other Japanese cultural things.
Anyways, it doesn’t permit you to work. You need your own money and you need to show them your accounts.
Then you need to find a school that wants to help.
How did I do it?
Come over on a tourist visa
Find a school and a Japanese cultural activity
Fill out the application and have your school enter their info
Create additional documents including your experience that is related like for me that was practicing judo and BJJ in the USA (photos of me in competitions and getting promoted in both BJJ and judo)
Bank balances and or proof of income outside of Japan
Are BJJ and judo hard on your body? Are you going to get injured? Are you going to hurt your knees, shoulders, back, etc?
If they are dangerous why do them?
Well, first I will answer the question if judo or jiu-jitsu is bad for your body based on my experience training which has been oh maybe 5.5 years or so of pretty steady training.
I estimate I have over 300 hours of judo practice and about 1400 hours of BJJ practice.
Watch this video to hear my experience on how hard these martial arts are on your body.
So did you watch the video yet?
So if they are hard on your body why do them?
Well, like many things in life there is a good side and a bad side. Let’s now look at the good side.
You’ll learn a lot
Get high! (natural source of drugs)
You’ll get a great workout
You’ll probably make some friends
Learn self defense!
It might change you
Jiu-jitsu is fun
It can be scary, difficult and sometimes it sucks, but…
It’s usually a lot of fun because for one it’s a game. Sure, it’s self defense, but it’s also a game and most people like games. Think you’re not a competitive person?
Competition is your very nature!
Think of it like checkers or Scrabble or chess.
Actually people compare jiu-jitsu to chess, but I never played chess so I couldn’t relate. It’s like you make one move and I can make one move. If you do this then I can do that. What I can do is dependent on what you do.
In the beginning you don’t know what to do, but you learn slowly.
It’s fun to learn new moves and new ways of using your body. Basically you learn solutions.
The learning is slow, but you will gradually learn solutions to the problems that you are having on the mat.
In the beginning you don’t know anything and you lose a lot. It’s tough! You’ll get submitted a lot and discouraged, but remember it happens to everyone even black belts.
Through trial and error you learn.
Free hits of dopamine
Jiu-jitsu can be very addicting. Like I told you already it’s fun to learn. But it’s really fun to win! And winning in jiu-jitsu is catching someone in a submission or it can feel good to do a sweep, escape or some other dominant position too.
In judo it could be a throw, pin, submission, sweep, etc.
Now if you are new chances are that will take time before you get anybody in a submission because… you are new.
But when you do you’ll get a little a shot of dopamine that will probably keep you coming back for more.
It feels good.
What happens when you get tapped out?
Ahhh, it doesn’t feel as good, but you get to reset and try again or if you don’t tap out you can go to the hospital and get some kind of shot from them.
Hehe, that’s my dark humor…
Also at the end of class you’ll probably feel better than when you went into the class. I can’t tell you how many times I had a hard time getting to class. I didn’t feel like it and I wanted to stay home, but I pushed through it.
And almost always I felt better once I started and then even better at the end of class.
You’ll learn that this is a skill.
And that’s cool.
Yes, strength and size matter, but so doesn’t skill. And jiu-jitsu/judo is something you can learn. Chances are that you will meet a higher belt who can tap you out and they will be smaller and weaker than you!
You’ll be like WTF!
“That guy or girl who is like 50 lbs less than me just got me.” It hurts your ego a bit, but it’s cool.
That will give you faith…
Because then you realize that this isn’t just a brutal game of people trying to out muscle one another.
Well, wait sometimes it can be like that, but that’s usually at the lower skill levels. Strength matters, but remember that skill can overcome strength.
I remember KRS-ONE saying something interesting once. It was something like…
“What can you do without technology?”
In this day and age we are so dependent on computers and phones and other electronic gadgets.
They are cool, but how about you? What can you do without technology?
One of your answers could be “judo” or “jiu-jitsu”!
You’ll probably get a great workout
Now I don’t mean you’ll get buff or ripped because of it alone, but chances are you’ll get a great workout.
What kind of workout?
I’d say mostly cardio.
Will you get stronger?
Probably somewhat and you might get some muscle tone if you do it frequently, but I wouldn’t expect much. At first it’s difficult and like anything new you will feel pain, soreness and be short of breath.
Remember that first day of soccer, basketball, skiing, snowboarding, ____ (fill in the blank)?
It’s kind of like that.
However, with time your body will get used to it.
Now what’s practice like?
It depends on the school.
Often it’s something like: warm up, technique, drilling, and sparring.
It can depend on the school a little as to what sort of warm up you will do. I have trained in some schools that do an extensive warm up: push ups, sit ups, jumping jacks, bear crawls, squats, burpees, hip escapes, forward rolls, falls, walking on your hands, cartwheels, running, skipping, sprints, carioca, stretches, etc.
But where I am training BJJ now in Japan we hardly do a warm up. It’s mostly techinique and then sparring. Where I am training judo now there is a light warm up on your own, newaza sparring, uchikomi and then randori.
So it will depend on the school.
The real workout to judo and jiujitsu is the sparring. That’s the core of the workout. You’ll work up quite a sweat through that especially if you spar many times in a row.
I like to do that if possible because if I stop and rest my mind gets too active and I start thinking too much and getting scared to spar. Perhaps it’s anxiety. And maybe I don’t want to get cold.
I am more of a slow twitch guy and I can last pretty long, but don’t have much power.
In judo sparring is called randori and in jiu-jitsu it’s often called “rolling”.
You’ll sweat a lot and it’s good
Here’s how sweating is beneficial:
Helps your skin
Good for your heart
You know what? I think that there might be more benefits because jiu-jitsu sparring in a fairly intense manner is kinda like taking a sauna.
Now I can’t say it’s the same, but I bet it has some of the same benefits.
Grappling is an up and close personal thing. It’s hands on and it’s full contact. You’ll meet a lot of new people from different backgrounds. You’d be surprised. You might think at first glance that it is a bunch of meatheads rolling around, but no you’ll meet all types.
In my class today there was a barber, doctor, artist, fireman, a few office workers, and some others that I don’t know well!
Learn self defense!
This was my primary motive for learning jiu-jitsu. Either judo or BJJ can be good for that. It can depend on where you train, but I’d probably say that judo is a little more well rounded though because it includes throws and newaza. BJJ classes can include throws or takedowns, but most of the time (90+%) it’s ground techniques.
But don’t expect to learn either one fast.
I say give it a year at least (a few days a week) if you want to learn it for self defense.
It takes time.
It’s been 5+ years and I am still learning and improving although as I said it’s hard to see.
I saw a question like this on Quora and thought I’d chime in with my answer.
Yes, I have been submitted by white belts in jiu-jitsu and thrown by white belts and green belts in judo. So in other words I lost to people with less experience and a lower rank.
Aren’t you supposed to be better than the lower belts if you are a higher belt?
Well, yes, but it’s not so clear cut. There are a few reasons why you might get submitted or thrown or beaten by someone of a lower rank.
They are bigger or stronger
They may have related experience in other martial arts
They could be “sandbagging” (unlikely)
They might have forgotten their true belt
They might be better and more experienced than their belt
They might have let you (the higher belt)
You can get caught
1. Size, strength and skill all matter
Even if you are a higher belt than your opponent they can still be stronger, faster, bigger and all of those give them an advantage.
Yes, skill matters, but so doesn’t size and strength.
According to Rener Gracie 50lbs is a belt. So what that means is that if you and your opponent are both white belts, but your opponent is 50lbs heavier then he is basically a blue belt compared to you.
The bigger guy has an advantage. And so to be able to compete with him or her then your skill has to be that much better.
So if you got beat by a bigger guy then don’t worry cause it happens all the time.
2. They might have other related experience
For example, they are several grappling sports which have some similarities: wrestling, judo, jiu-jitsu and sambo.
They all use some of the same positions, techniques and different ones, but they just have different goals. So maybe your opponent is lower ranked than you but has related experience.
I’ll tell you a story.
In my first school where I trained in San Francisco, (Romelo Melo). My teacher was a black belt and maybe 180lbs. And then there was a guy there who could submit him and he was only a blue belt.
Well there were two reasons:
The blue belt was bigger. I can’t remember, but probably well over 200lbs.
The blue belt used to wrestle in college.
Also in some BJJ competitions a judo black belt who is a white belt in BJJ has to compete as a blue belt in BJJ.
3. They could be “sandbagging”
It’s not very common, but some people might actually be a higher belt than the one they are wearing.
There are some people that enter competitions and compete at a lower level. They just switch their belt.
That’s deception and if the person sticks around anywhere eventually someone will probably fish out the truth.
4. They might have forgotten their belt
Also they might have forgotten their belt that day and be using a donor belt which is lower than their actual belt.
I have experienced this several times in different schools.
For example, where I train now in Fukuoka there’s a guy who is actually a purple belt, but wears a white belt.
When I first rolled with him and he tapped me out I thought this guy seems pretty good and maybe he has experience in judo.
So I asked him with my limited Japanese and he said yes that he did do judo before.
Later on my teacher told me that he was a purple belt, but he lost his belt. So IDK if there is some rule that if you lose your belt here in Japan you have to go back to wearing a white belt or if he just doesn’t care, but he still wears a white belt.
5. They are actually more experienced than you
The belt is a general system. It’s a bench mark and I think it kind of works, but there are variations from belt to belt and each school is different.
For example, no two blue belts (or any other belt color) are the same. One might have been a blue belt for one day and the other for 5 years.
So there is a big difference in actual experience there.
Different schools also have different standards. For example, in my first school most people would get blue belts around the 1-1.5 year mark.
But in other schools like Caeser Gracie or Ralph Gracie those tend to come later like around 2 years.
And I know people who were blue belts for 7 or 8 years.
There are no systematic standards to jiu-jitsu ranks.
6. Sometimes the higher belts let you get them
Or sometimes they want to practice their escapes. But I’ve known a lot of higher belts to do this. They will play with you and let you get submissions or maybe put themselves on the line so that they can try an escape.
If it’s the case that you just tapped out a higher belt it might be that they let you or maybe not.
I’ve tapped out higher belts: purple, brown and even black, but I know in some cases they let me or just weren’t trying that hard.
7. Sometimes you get caught
As the funny Kurt Osiander always says, “you fucked up”.
Anyone can fail.
Overall you might be better than your opponent, but just because you are better doesn’t mean you can’t get caught or make a mistake.
Maybe your opponent who is lower ranked than you knows something you don’t or surprised you with something you weren’t expecting.
Most of the time you can see things coming with the lower belts. But sometimes they can still surprise you or they might know something that most lower belts don’t.
You can lose. You are not invincible.
Just yesterday I was rolling (sparring) with a white belt here in Fukuoka who was a guest from Korea. It was the first time that I rolled with him.
He said he wanted to “light” spar and well it was my first one of the day.
But he didn’t really go “light” and he was being aggressive. So we rolled for probably 12 minutes or so and one time he almost got me in an ankle lock.
He just caught my leg. I guess my mistake was that I exposed it at some point. And I almost tapped out, but I got out and did the escape I had learned before.
I didn’t get hurt and I was fine.
But it was close.
I could have tapped.
I was thinking to myself, “don’t get hurt because you don’t want to tap out to a white belt”.
He was bit stronger than me as I felt like I was loosing my grip on his collar to prevent him from going back and finishing the ankle lock, but I took one last chance to push down his foot on my hip and scoot past his leg and get out.
I actually really wanted to tap him out, because he said he wanted to go “light”, but was being really aggressive so that just made me mad. I like to go lighter for my first few rolls to warm up and not go 100% right off the bat.
But hey he’s a white belt and a lot of white belts are wild like that.
Eventually I caught him in an arm bar and he tapped out. And that was the end of that.
But you have to be careful.
I remember Steve Maxwell (cool guy) on the Joe Rogan show saying that a lot of the injuries that he sees are from higher belts not tapping out to lower belts.
You don’t want to lose to someone who is lower ranked than you, but you have to “remember that your joints have no pride”.
Someone said that on Reddit and it’s true. You have an ego and losing to a lower rank is more of a blow to your ego. But if you want to stay healthy you should get used to it.
And me too.
I understand it is hard when you are in the moment. You don’t want to fail, but tomorrow is another day. You got to think long term.
Getting thrown in judo
I spend less time doing judo, but getting thrown by a lower belt seems to matter a bit less to me.
Maybe because to me it’s just getting thrown and the consequences are not that big. But when you get submitted with a joint lock or choke the consequences in reality are much greater if you don’t tap.
That’s because if you don’t tap your joint is going to get damaged or you will be knocked unconscious (possibly die) if you are choked.
A throw is easier in my eyes. But maybe it also depends on what you value more. If you are a fierce judo competitor getting thrown is a big deal.
But I started with jiu-jitsu and it’s less of a blow to my ego if I get thrown.
Conclusion – It’s easier to lose to a higher belt
It’s less of a blow to your ego if you lose to a higher belt or higher ranking person, but if you lose to a lower belt it’s harder.
There are a lot of reasons on why you may have lost to a lower belt such as they could be bigger, stronger, actually more experienced, sandbagging, not the belt they are wearing, or you just might have gotten caught.
I have lost (been submitted, pinned or thrown) to lower ranks for all of those reasons.
We all want to win, but losing is just part of this game and you are going to lose many times. I know it’s a little cliche to hear but there is often some truth to it and that is that it is a “learning experience”.
Tomorrow is another day and you want to be healthy so despite their belt color you probably want to do what one of my teachers said, “tap early and tap often”.