18 Awesome Jiu Jitsu Logos

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Logos in Jiu Jitsu don’t differ that much. An animal in a gi or a variation on a triangle seem to be the most common. Other geometric shapes can also be seen academy logos, particularly if they evoke Japanese mon. For gi companies there’s always the series of Brazilian, U.S., and Japanese flags to fall back on. Another common logo design in Jiu Jitsu is the two poorly drawn men grappling, which inevitably appears to the general public to advertise a club for aficionados of unfortunate subtext. I think my personal favourite bad logos include those that incorporate the head instructor’s tattoos, and anything with a dog in it (I have a soft spot for the original Carlson Gracie bulldogs, though).

This article is not about bad designs in Jiu Jitsu, however; that would be too easy. Our objective is to celebrate good design. A good logo should be simple, distinctive and instantly communicate what your brand is about. The need for simplicity comes from the requirement to be printed or sewn onto a variety of materials at a variety of sizes. Your team crest (incorporating Japanese kanji, the Brazilian flag, a bird in a gi grappling a snake also in a gi, and some random tribal barbed-wire) might look spectacular painted on the academy wall, but when your logo is embroidered onto a 4” patch it may lose some of the splendour.

Thankfully we have several examples of excellent logo design that are cutting through the clutter to remind us that design in combat sports can still be clean and intelligent. A word of warning – I’m not a designer by any stretch of the imagination so my rationale behind most of these choices is nothing more than, “Hey, that looks dope as hell.” But you will see a few themes emerge. One is simplicity; many of the logos below are black and white. Others incorporate a limited and distinct palette to the same effect. Another theme is communication. Many of these designs will give you a very clear understanding of what the team or company they represent is all about. Hopefully this list makes people think about how they portray their team and their sport/martial art of Jiu Jitsu to the public. If there are any excellent designs that I missed please post them in the comments.

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de la Riva - Many of the designs featured here are recent examples of minimalism. The de la Riva logo exemplifies the 1970′s design aesthetic; the logo is still minimalist, but the appropriated Japanese flag and the wavy, vaguely-serif typeface are both timeless and indicative of the era in which this logo was created. It is probably one of the best and most unique logos in Jiu Jitsu. The design’s invocation of the Hinomaru flag ties Jiu Jitsu to its roots; the rising sun represents the power and divine origins of the Japanese emperor. This logo is particularly interesting since de la Riva is part of the Carlson Gracie team, where angry animals are a prerequisite for team logos. Like de la Riva’s crest, most of the logos that are featured are circular. This is primarily an artifact of Jiu Jitsu team patches being circles, which was the main form of embroidered patches on the back of Jiu Jitsu athletes’ gis.

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50/50 – This is the perfect logo to represent the 50/50 guard. To me, the number looks similar to two Jiu Jitsu players stuck in the 50/50, with the forward slash mimicking the angle of the legs when playing this guard. The 50/50 is one of owner Ryan Hall’s signature positions, from which he often attacks the reverse heel-hook. 50/50 Jiu Jitsu also has a cool “graffiti” logo, but it’s hard to beat this circular crest as a means to represent the unique, mathematical Jiu Jitsu of Ryan Hall and Co.

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Abu Dhabi World Pro - The Abu Dhabi World Pro is one of the best tournaments in Jiu Jitsu. Competitors must win regional qualifiers, after which they are flown to Abu Dhabi at the behest of the crown prince. No it’s not the plot of a Bruce Lee movie, it’s just one of the best run Jiu Jitsu tournaments in the world. This logo incorporates the colours of the Emirates with a design that immediately communicates the worldwide inclusiveness of the tournament. The circle as a design element is something that we’ll revisit; it is a very important element of Japanese-inspired minimalist design that invokes the ideals of Zen Buddhism. However, the three pieces of the circle are also crescents – one of the most ancient symbols in the world. Crescent symbols originally represented the moon gods of Mesopotamia and now represent the Muslim world. The use of the crescents to form the circle is indicative of the blending of cultures that takes place at the Abu Dhabi World Pro.

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Marcelo Garcia – This is one of the cleanest and most unique logos in Jiu Jitsu, representing its subject well. The circle as a design element in Jiu Jitsu is one that we’ve already seen, and one that will come up again and again. Jiu Jitsu’s roots are in the Japanese martial arts, and the ideas espoused therein have been filtered through current design aesthetics to invoke calmness and completeness. This is why it works so well for a martial artist such as Garcia. This logo was designed by Jiu Jitsu competitor Hillary Witt as part of a contest by Garcia’s school.

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Alliance - “The Eagle is once again flying high” - Romero “Jacare” Cavalcanti. The Alliance logo is one of the most instantly recognizable on the competition circuit. The triangle and the animal totem are also traditional elements of Jiu Jitsu design but the bold, minimalist way that Alliance has incorporated them ensures a timeless design. The triangle is commonly used by the Gracie family to represent both the triangle choke and the idea of balance. I’m not sure what the eagle represents in the Alliance logo. Cavalcanti’s nickname refers to a common Brazilian crocodilian and his partner’s nickname is “the General,” so I guess we can be thankful that one of the most iconic logos in Jiu Jitsu wasn’t replaced by an alligator in a military uniform.

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Shoyoroll - I’m not talking about the “S” with three dots that is embroidered on the sleeves of Shoyoroll gi’s, but the more elaborate crest that appears on their patches and on the skirt of some of their gi’s, such as the Yank. Originally from Guam, Shoyoroll’s Bear Quitugua invokes his origins in many of the company’s designs. The bold script typeface invokes the graffiti aesthetic so fundamental to the brand identity. The circular logo with the company name wrapped around the outer perimeter is a very common design, often seen in hockey and soccer teams. The protruding text and the lightning creates a highly dynamic design.

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CheckMat - This is one of my favourite logos in Jiu Jitsu. Evoking the “BJJ as human chess” idea, the CheckMat logo is both subtle and bold. The king piece seems to stand out as an avatar for team founder Leo Veira. The serif font usually doesn’t work very well for sports logos, but the cerebral nature of the CheckMat brand makes it appropriate. It also gives the pronounced “T” an appearance of a cross – a reference to Christianity, which is very important to the team founders.

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Scramble - Scramble is one of my favourite Jiu Jitsu brands. And I can’t be the only one since the U.K.-based company is taking off all over the globe. Known for bold, colourful designs, Scramble is one of the few companies that can successfully incorporate Japanese characters and design elements into their logos. The katakana is the phonetic translation of the company name, and appears as a symmetrical reflection of the English characters below. Check out their “Be Water” rashguard, Tanren T-shirt, and Bushido Athletics 3/4 sleeve rashguard for more awesome designs from Scramble.

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DSTYR SG - Intelligent, irreverent, stylish. This is what I think of the DSTYR:SG blog, which is captured by their many logos including the one above. DSTYR:SG has become the go-to source for the latest videos in Jiu Jitsu with often-hilarious yet brief commentary by the black and brown belts who run the site. I love coffee, and love this T-shirt (which can be purchased at MMA Outlet).

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Albino and Preto – I don’t even care that the Albino and Preto logo is basically a rip-off of the Jameson Whiskey “stamp” logo (which I again ripped-off for the header image, above). This logo successfully incorporates Brazilian national colours in a fresh, bold design. It’s ironic for a company that means “white and black” to have one of the best uses of colour in their logo. Albino and Preto is probably the best-known Jiu Jitsu brand that doesn’t actually make anything.


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Jiu Jitsu Brotherhood – I don’t like the squished, rounded typeface nor the internal beveling of this version of the Jiu Jitsu Brotherhood logo, yet this design perfectly represents founder Nic Gregoriades. The light blue recalls the colours of Greece. Nic also uses an Uroborus, an ancient greek symbol of harmony and rebirth (similar to the Japanese circle/ring of many other Jiu Jitsu logos). The Uroborus suggests ancient brotherhoods seeking the secrets to enlightenment, perfect for the modern-day equivalent seeking the same through the practice of Jiu Jitsu.

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Denver Jiu Jitsu - I knew nothing about Denver Jiu Jitsu when I started this project, but was immediately taken with their logo. And isn’t that the point of a logo? To generate interest and attention with the fewest elements possible? Another take on the classic “stamp” crest, this design exemplifies a restrained colour palette, with a muted orange on a greyish brown background. I may just like the colours though, because they remind me of my little league baseball team. The shark, which is used as a symbol of Mestre Relson Gracie, startles the line between cartoon and realism. It reminds me of the saying, “The mat is my ocean, I’m a shark, and most people don’t know how to swim.” It’s been attributed to several people including Rickson Gracie and Vinicius “Draculino” Magalhães, but is nonetheless appropriate for Mestre Relson.

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Renzo Gracie – Renzo’s logo is one of the best examples of branding in Jiu Jitsu. While nominally part of Gracie Barra, the Renzo Gracie Association has branded themselves as a separate entity, making a name for themselves in both Jiu Jitsu and MMA. The blue colour suggests calmness and modernity, as well as a royal superiority which is also indicated by the laural wreath surrounding the stylized lion. Contrast this to the much more aggressive red and black colour-scheme of brother Ryan Gracie’s otherwise-identical logo.

Jiu Jitsu Magazine - One of the few text-based designs in the list, the Jiu Jitsu Magazine logo is so well-aligned you could use it as a ruler. Incorporating the red band of the Jiu Jitsu black belt makes the design “pop.” The only element that I’m not crazy about is the awkwardly-angled line between the “T” and the “S.”

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ADCC - The Abu Dhabi Combat Club logo is one of the all-time classics in Jiu Jitsu. Instantly recognizable, this design incorporates an Arabic-style typeface with bold reds and yellows. The reference to the original venue of the tournament indicates the importance of tradition, particularly in an Emirate with an influx of hyper-modern buildings.

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Bad Boy - Another classic design from when Jiu Jitsu and MMA were one and the same. It might seem clichéd and outdated now, but the Bad Boy logo was one of the most important visual tools in the martial arts world in the 80′s and 90′s. If you saw those eyes glaring at you from a fighter’s ass you knew something crazy was about to go down.

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Miyao Brothers - The Miyao brothers are the next generation of Jiu Jitsu stars, with abstract guard games built around cutting-edge techniques such as the berimbolo and reverse de la Riva. This logo for OSS! Clothing is an example of the design evolving organically from the subject. I mean, they’re twins and their last name sounds like the sound a cat makes. They’re also the least tough-looking Jiu Jitsu fighters in the world (but don’t make a mistake – they will get on your back and brutally choke you, before slipping their glasses back on and hiding in the corner of the arena). All of these elements were taken by U.K.-based Jiu Jitsu illustrator Seymour Yang (Meerkatsu) and turned into something special, with the dual Japanese Maneki Neko and the kanji for “Jiu” and “Jitsu” on each cat’s chest, reflecting the twins’ partial Japanese heritage.

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BJJ Heroes - The brushed-on circle invoking Zen calligraphy, the red bar from the black belt, even the drop shadow. The elements of this design are completely clichéd, yet their execution somehow makes it all work. Like the other designs on this list that incorporate the circle, this logo tries to evoke the idea of the martial artist as one seeking enlightenment. The final chapter of The Book of Five Rings by famous swordsman  Miyamoto Musashi is called “the book of the void.” The void is what this circle represents, “By knowing things that exist, you can know that which does not exist.” Those who have understood this principle, like Musashi, are heroes to future generations of martial artists. Our reverence for these individuals is an idea subtly evoked by the BJJ Heroes logo.

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25 Comments

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25 responses to “18 Awesome Jiu Jitsu Logos

  1. BJJAZ posted the Atos logo in the Sherdog/f12 thread about this. How could I have missed it!

    atos

  2. DSTRYRSG is the winner for sure. Very well done. I can’t believe you didn’t include the Lapel Choke superhero logo!

    • There’s a Lapel Choke superhero logo? Is it this one:

      lapel choke

      That’s pretty great. I love how the lightning forms the outline of a gi lapel. I’m pretty stoked about clever designs like that.

      • Thanks! :) I’m a former designer and when I was creating the logo it kind of fell in my lap. Sometimes I wonder if anyone picks up on details like the lapels in the lightning, but to read it here makes me stoked. Dig your site by the way, great stuff!

        Jesse
        LapelChoke.com

  3. One of the most epic sites I’ve ever visited! I’m shocked.

  4. HeavyGrappler posted the Penao Jiu Jitsu logo over on Sherdog that he helped design. It’s pretty amazing – check out how the barbs of the feather form the six degree stripes on the red bar. Great work man!

    penao

  5. Reblogged this on The Sovereign Warrior and commented:
    Check out this recent blog from The Jiu Jitsu Lab!

  6. pikeamus

    It surprised me that you didn’t mention the similarities between the Renzo logo and the UN flag. It struck me that this must have been intentional as a suggestion of inclusiveness and unity.

  7. The graffiti Fifty/Fifty is one of those reversible ones, so if you flip it upside down, it still reads “Fifty/Fifty”.

    I’ll come back with other logos. I have a soft spot for Paraestra Tokyo with the purple guys grappling, but it’s not as fresh as these.

  8. The Yamasaki logo is also a cross choke. I’m a bit biased, being a Yamasaki student, but even when I didn’t train there, I thought their logo was awesome.

  9. Great selection of logos. It’s a tough choice trying to find a small number that one likes as there is such a massive variety out there. It’s one of the reasons I love the sport – the creative visual culture associated with the sport. Nice job!

  10. dhenwood

    http://profile.ak.fbcdn.net/hprofile-ak-snc4/50504_29260249278_8018414_n.jpg good logo for the first welsh blackbelt :P personally really like this.

  11. I love this.

    As strange as it may sound, I think that these sort of developments in the sport–the professionally designed and managed jiu-jitsu brands–is an important part of the sports growth and an indicator of the sports evolution. I’ve been on a pretty big marketing research kick lately, and it’s cool to see how branding techniques are taking root. Though we as grapplers see ourselves as part of a great big jiu-jitsu community, the communities within that community are growing and defining themselves, and those communities each have their own unique personalities, which is reflected (in part) in the graphic design of their logos.

    These logos, especially the logos for specific gyms and organization, are like a second nationality to some people. They have some serious significance and inspire some pretty powerful emotions in those that champion them. This sort of analysis is the beginning of something greater, I think. There is a lot more to be researched and said on this topic.

    -Marshal
    mcarper@gmail.com
    marshaldcarper.com

  12. Hey there, although slightly similar in style to some of
    those on display above, I would like to add another logo I
    find visually pleasing. It is the one of the Nino Schembri
    Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Academy
    http://www.ninoschembribjj.com/images/galleryLogo.jpg
    I like its clear desing: few colors and not too much details
    … very recognizable.

    Greets, Oliver

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