History of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

Carlos Gracie

Carlos Gracie

In 1914, a Japanese Jiu Jitsu expert named Mitsuyo Maeda arrived in Brazil in order to establish a Japanese immigrant community. While there, Maeda’s work was aided by a Brazilian businessman of Scottish descent named Gastao Gracie.  In exchange for his friendship and hospitality, Maeda offered to teach Gracie’s son Carlos the Japanese martial art of Jiu-Jitsu. Carlos then taught the art to his brothers and in 1925 they opened their own Jiu-Jitsu academy in Brazil.

Over the years, the Gracie family refined the art of Jiu-Jitsu, modifying it through countless challenge matches and street fights, and decided to call their art “Gracie Jiu-Jitsu” (also called “Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu”, or “BJJ”, today).  The emphasis was on taking the opponent to the ground where the techniques of the art, with its efficient use of leverage, could be applied. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu focuses on the use of positional hierarchy on the ground, as well as the use of joint locks and chokes.

Mitsuyo Maeda

Mitsuyo Maeda

In the 1990’s, the effectiveness of the art was demonstrated to the world by Royce Gracie, who, at 170lbs, defeated much larger opponents in the early days of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.  Royce defeated his opponents by taking them to the ground where he then used his own weight and leverage to apply the techniques of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.  As a result of this success, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has become one of the fastest growing martial arts in the world, and is trained for self defense, sport grappling tournaments (with and without the kimono), and is a crucial part of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) competition.