Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ; Portuguese: jiu-jitsu brasileiro) is a martial art, combat sport, and a self defense system that focuses on grappling and especially ground fighting. Brazilian jiu-jitsu was formed from Kodokan Judo ground fighting (newaza) fundamentals that were taught to Carlos Gracie and Luiz França by Mitsuyo Maeda. Carlos Gracie is known as the Founder and Creator of Modern Jiu Jitsu (Gracie Jiu Jitsu/Brazilian Jiu Jitsu). Brazilian jiu-jitsu eventually came to be its own art through the experimentations, practices, and adaptation from the Judo knowledge of Carlos and Hélio Gracie, who then passed their knowledge on to their extended family.
BJJ promotes the concept that a smaller, weaker person can successfully defend against a bigger, stronger assailant by using proper technique, leverage, and most notably, taking the fight to the ground, and then applying joint-locks and chokeholds to defeat the other person. BJJ training can be used for sport grappling tournaments (gi and no-gi) and mixed martial arts (MMA) competition or self-defense. Sparring(commonly referred to as "rolling") and live drilling play a major role in training, and a premium is placed on performance, especially in competition, in relation to progress and ascension through its ranking system.
Since its inception in 1882, its parent art of Judo was separated from older systems of Japanese ju-jitsu by an important difference that was passed on to Brazilian jiu-jitsu: it is not solely a martial art, it is also a sport; a method for promoting physical fitness and building character in young people; and, ultimately, a way (Do) of life.
Brazilian jiu-jitsu is a martial art and combat sport that teaches a smaller person how to defend himself against a larger adversary by using leverage and proper technique. The Gracie family, the founders of BJJ, modified judo and traditional Japanese jujutsu to create the art. It contains stand-up maneuvers, but it is most famous for its devastating ground-fighting techniques. Gaining superior positioning—so one can apply the style’s numerous chokes, holds, locks and joint manipulations on an opponent—is the key in BJJ.
BJJ’s roots began in the early 1900s. Esai Maeda—the chief of a Japanese immigration colony who was assigned to Brazil—befriended Gastao Gracie. Maeda, a former jujutsu champion in Japan, taught the art to Gracie’s son, Carlos. In 1925, Carlos and his four brothers opened the first jiu-jitsu school in Brazil. Carlos’ younger brother, Helio, adjusted the techniques to suit his small frame, thereby creating Brazilian jiu-jitsu. In the early ’80s, Helio’s son, Rorion, planted the seeds of BJJ in the United States, where the art has become immensely popular.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu’s roots began in the early 1900s. Esai Maeda, the chief of a Japanese immigration colony who was assigned to Brazil, befriended Gastao Gracie. Maeda, a former jujutsu champion in Japan, taught the art to Gracie’s son, Carlos. In 1925, Carlos and his four brothers opened the first Jiu-Jitsu school in Brazil. Carlos’ younger brother, Helio, adjusted the techniques to suit his small frame, thereby creating Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. In the early ’80s, Helio’s son, Rorion, planted the seeds of BJJ in the United States, where the art has become immensely popular.
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a martial art based in ground fighting. It is unlike many other ground fighting styles, particularly in the way that it teaches practitioners to fight from their backs.
Today, nearly all MMA fighters train in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu due to the success that past practitioners have had in the sport.
The History of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (aka Gracie Jiu- Jitsu)
Over four centuries ago in northern India, Buddhist monks were busy going about the dangerous work of trying to spread the word of ‘Buddha’ in a world that wasn’t always kind to roaming peoples. In order to defend themselves from attacks that happened along the way, they developed a form of grappling that allowed them to subdue opponents without killing them. Eventually this style of fighting made its way to Japan where it was improved upon and called jujutsu or jiu jitsu. Judo is a derivative of jiu- jitsu.
The Japanese sought to hide jujutsu and its derivatives from the western world, but nothing lasts forever. In 1914, Kodokan Judo master Mitsuyo Maeda (1878-1941) came to stay at the household of Brazil’s Gastao Gracie. Gracie helped Maeda with business in the area and in appreciation of this, Maeda taught Gastao’s eldest son, Carlos, the art of judo. In turn, Carlos taught the other children in the family what he knew, including the smallest and youngest of his brothers, Helio.
Helio often felt at a disadvantage when practicing with his brothers because many of the moves in judo favored the stronger and larger fighter. Thus, he developed an offshoot of Maeda’s teachings that favored leverage over brute strength and refined the formula for fighting from one’s back on the ground. Today the art that Helio refined is called Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
Characteristics of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is an art based in ground fighting. Along with this, it teaches takedowns, takedown defense, ground control, and especially submissions. Submissions refer to holds that either cut off an opponent’s air supply (chokes) or look to take advantage of a joint (such as armbars).
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu fighters tend to feel very comfortable fighting from a position called the guard, if need be. The guard position-- in essence, wrapping one's legs around an opponent to limit their movement-- is what allows them to fight from their backs so effectively, and is also something that separates their art from most other grappling styles.
Basic Goals of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu fighters look to take their opponents to the ground. When on top they generally hope to escape their opponents’ guard and move to either side control (positioned across an opponent's’ chest) or the mount position (sitting over their ribs or chest). From there, depending on the situation, they may choose to continually strike their opponent or set up a submission hold.
When on their backs, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu fighters are very dangerous. From the guard various submission holds can be employed. They may also seek to turn their opponent over in an attempt to reverse their fortunes.
Royce Gracie Proves Brazilian Jiu Jitsu’s Worth
On November 12, 1993, Helio's son Royce showed the world what Brazilian Jiu Jitsu could do by taking home the inaugural Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) trophy in an open weight, barely-any-rules tournament. Even more impressive was the fact that at only 170-pounds he went on to win three of the first four UFC Championship Tournaments.
Sub Styles of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
Since Royce Gracie made his family’s style of jiu jitsu famous, many other variations of jiu jitsu have popped up. All of these are in some way attributable to Gracie Jiu Jitsu. Machado Jiu Jitsu, founded by a cousin of the Gracies, is the best known of these variations.