If you have been a Jiu Jitsu practitioner for sometime, you have like encountered the Portuguese phrase “Arte Suave” which translates to Gentle Art, a common colloquium for Jiu Jitsu or BJJ.
It’s origin stems from Master Jigoro Kano’s principle of “gentleness controls strength” one of the most important tenants of Jiu Jitsu. Though strength is important for any combat athlete, the system of Jiu Jitsu is based on leverage and it’s application. To use excessive amounts of force would lessen the overall effectiveness of Jiu Jitsu as a system and thereby limiting it only to those physical specimens with large amounts of strength and power. To give an example, if one had a strength ratio of 10, and another a 7, when both forces are to collide, the person with a strength ratio of 10 will surely win. Yet if the one with a strength ratio of 7 were to employ an off balancing technique (kuzushi) rendering the other’s strength a 6 rather than a 10, when these forces now collide the 7 will certainly win against the 6. This understanding directly correlates with Arte Suave and prevents the waste of unnecessary energy by searching for the most “gentle” way to achieve leverage or the upper hand.
On a side note, Jiu Jitsu can be considerably gentle in terms of combat when compared with a striking art that involves powerful strikes (kicks, punches, knees, elbows and headbutts). A Jiu Jitsu practitioner can simply bring their partner to the ground and achieve a mounted position eventually leading to a submission by joint lock, choke or even light strikes due to the control factor of the art. Practice of the art is also substantially less damaging as it is common to see a 60 year old sparring and training Jiu Jitsu, my father for example, and such is not the case in the striking arts.