Brazilian Jiu Jitsu History

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, also known as Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, is a variant of traditional Japanese Ju Jutsu that was developed in Brazil during the first half of the 20th century by the Gracie family.

Japanese Judoka, prizefighter, and member of the famed Kodokan (later banned for his prizefighting activities) named Mitsuyo Maeda immigrated to Brazil in the 1910’s and was helped greatly by a Brazilian politician of Scottish decent named Gastao Gracie.

In return for his aid, Maeda taught Judo to Gastao’s son Carlos, who then taught the art to his brothers including Helio Gracie, who (with Carlos) is generally regarded as the originator of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu as a style distinct of the Kodokan’s.

Brazilian Jiu-jitsu became internationally prominent in the martial arts community in the 1990’s when Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu expert Royce Gracie won several Ultimate Fighting Championships against experienced and much larger opponents using the family’s style

Jiu-Jitsu (translated “Art of Gentleness”) emphasizes ground-fighting techniques and submission holds involving joint locks and chokes.  The principle is that most of the advantage of a larger, stronger opponent comes from superior reach and more powerful strikes, both of which can be largely neutralized if the fight is taken off of the feet.

BJJ advocates that a fight going to the ground is not a matter of chance but a sure fact.  If either fighter wants the fight to go to the ground, it will.  Once the opponent is on the ground, a number of maneuvers (and counter-maneuvers) are available to manipulate the opponent into suitable position for the application of a submission hold.

Submission holds typically involve getting an inescapable grip on an opponents limb which allows one to apply force to the point where the joint will break if  any more force is applied. This can cause intense pain, and typically results in the opponent re-assessing their will to continue the fight.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu’s emphasis on joint locks chokes and control over an opponent rather than strikes mean that one’s technique can be practiced at full speed and power, identical to the effort and technique used in a self-defense situation or competition. Training partners can resist and counter just as they would in an actual fight, providing valuable realistic experience should the techniques ever need to be applied in an actual fight.

In the litigious society we live in, Jiu-Jitsu’s control and maneuver strategy is an invaluable asset to possess should a self-defense situation arise.