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Happy to be here. Greetings. Working on a Jiu Jitsu themed combat game.

6 replies [Last post]
Joined: 10/25/2016

About two weeks ago I took the step from just thinking about making this thing to actually beginning research, planning, and taking steps towards figuring out what this thing needs to be. The last entry I made was “perhaps it’s best to consult with experts on these things instead of trying to catch up on 20 years of board games on your own”. That insight is what brought me here.

I am a lifetime gamer; various rpgs, mostly D&D, MtG on and off since unlimited, 40k, other tabletops here and there, video games since i got my first 8-bit nintendo as a kid. Educated as a philosopher, a jiu jitsu instructor by profession.

I have worked on writing a jiu jitsu book for years. It has morphed from a technical lexicon to formal academic expository to recently something so tongue in cheek it could be published by steve jackson games. As it approached this last form, I began truly shaping it as a game manual, and then began thinking as an after thought that there should be at least a playable game along with it. Intentions have shifted and the desire to make an awesome game has become the priority, the book to function as some sort of color text for the game.

For this to work though, the game must really hit close to home in accurately representing the mechanics of a real grappling match. I am leaning towards a hybrid system of deck construction and custom dice rolls

The project has become a giant thing, and I am here joining this community now seeking the advice of those more experienced in these things than myself.

I have some first thoughts on the project written out. please let me know if it is appropriate to post here or to make a separate thread.

I look forward to working on this with everyone, and taking part in this community as best I can.

radioactivemouse's picture
Joined: 07/08/2013
jiu-jitsu game

I've played around with creating a jiu-jitsu game on my own to help me remember some of the techniques that I learned in class (I stopped going due to lack of money).

i thought I had was a card system that used specific body cards (i.e. hand, leg, torso, etc) to power up certain moves that required them along with a position (i.e. arm + arm + player taking back position = rear naked choke). It would start as a "white belt" system and later belts would give bonuses to the white belts so that it would be easier to execute, but still have a chance for the white belt to possibly submit a higher belt.

I had all this info, I bought books and videos...eventually I shelved it. There's just a lot of moves, counter moves, transitions, etc. to get something compact. Still, I think a missing component is that when I was rolling, I wanted the game to feel like there was a "chess-like" component since jiu-jitsu is all about taking advantage of certain positions.

The problem with a card game is that it relies on a random pull...something you don't really do in jiu-jitsu; you need all of your strategies in front of you.

One day I want to revisit this, though. I think there's a really rich database I could rely on with this game...but I think it will have to be something a little more than just a card game...or maybe I can keep it a card game, but add something that gives more of a planned strategic game.

Joined: 10/25/2016
first thoughts on jiu jitsu mechanics

It's cool that you have put some work into trying to figure out a jiu jitsu game. Really, I think every gamer who spends a decent amount of time training must do the same to some extent. You are exactly right that there is such a rich database to draw on, it's just a matter of figuring out the correct mechanics.

Like you I started with the idea of it being card based. I focused on the positional aspect of it first,then the definition of Jiu Jitsu as “a science [and art] of control leading to submission”. Additionally, that control is a spectrum between grip and submission. With this as the conceptual core of jiu jitsu for me, the game started to take a certain shape in my head.

the fight occurring at different positions is essential, but plays out almost in different mini games. minimum you have standing, guard play, and play when past the guard, each position granting advantage and penalties to the cards played. Each position must also have its own deck of cards specific to that position.

It can't be turn based. players must play simultaneously. blind, but into some environment that can represent movement. flux, a grip fight, a back and forth of subtle balance shifts and momentary openings into which feints and attacks are made. I have thought the best way to represent this flux as a handful of custom dice representing openings, balance forward or backwards, vulnerability of head, leg, or arm, etc(6? With character ability, card advantage, board presence, etc as possibly changing the number able to be thrown), removing dice of certain types, allowing additional of certain types. ... this is all loose, but i think the dice are absolutely necessary to represent that element of the fight. The cards to represent vocabulary, and the whole thing built on the concepts of jiu jitsu as a fight for control, thru various positions, aiming to achieve a submission.

Thinking of this as a dice game is new to me, but the more I think on it, the dice are playing a larger and larger part.

kwasher's picture
Joined: 10/07/2016
Instead of a random pull,

Instead of a random pull, couldn't players select a hand to play with ....?

Joined: 10/25/2016
random pull vs open library

Thought about it. still totally open to it. It would make a lot of sense provided the dice system is fleshed out to really carry the weight of movement, randomness, and creating openings that I need to represent and that there is a large card library for the player to draw on allowing a strategic deck construction experience.

I recently started looking at how Battlecon and mage wars work; both give the player access to all their cards. The paired card play of battlecon looks like a relevant mechanic. I also really like the chain attacks in yomi. I think both of those mechanics could fins a home in this game.

let-off studios
let-off studios's picture
Joined: 02/07/2011

Your jiu titsu game sounds exciting! I'm also a big fan of simultaneous choices, as it adds drama and risk to a game. It all sounds very fun and steeped in theme.

Best of success to you, and welcome to BGDF!

radioactivemouse's picture
Joined: 07/08/2013

Dign09, you obviously have more practical experience with Jiu-Jitsu I just don't have...which, like I said I did just so I could just remember the moves.

You're right about starting with the positional aspect. I used the guards as a basis on which you could spread out from; going from guard to guard is a pretty difficult thing to emulate. Going from guard to hold seems a bit easier.

I've also played around with making the game more abstract, but the whole beauty of Jiu-Jitsu is that it feels like chess when you're rolling with someone.

In addition, I've thought about standing game, but that goes right into Judo and that's a whole other game altogether.

I've played around in my head different concepts, I really would like it to be a card game, but I've brainstormed different things...even as abstract as using a peg system where a player has control (peg) over certain body parts and you only have so many pegs to move around.

I think the trouble is that in any one guard position, there's so many places a player can go. It's difficult to show that in a card game unless the player has all the options available to them. I thought about having separate decks for each guard, but there's quite a few guards and some interesting ones like the X-guard that I really want to explore.

Of course there's the struggle. I've played around with a stamina meter and how you can "force" a move, but it takes stamina and is more riskier.

Then there's skill level. At white belt, there's a certain number of options, but at brown, there's so much more.

So much stuff to think about...I used to fall asleep trying to mentally chew out a mechanic for this's so juicy but so much.

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