The history of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) or simply Jiu Jitsu as it is know in Brazil ,goes back through the Gracie family to their original teacher & political activist, Mitsuyo Maeda (Conde Koma) and his training in the Kodokan, the home of Judo.
Mitsuyo Maeda in 1925 as a political liason to Japanese settlers in Brazil, made his home in the South American country. There he met with businessman and politician Gastao Gracie , who helped Maeda assist in the relocation of Japanese immigrants to Brazil. To show his appreciation for the help he received from Gastao, he offered to teach Gastao’s oldest son Carlos,the art of classic Jiu Jitsu.
Carlos was one of the first Brazilians to learn the art of Jiu Jitsu at the time. By 1921 Gastao had moved his family to Rio De Janeiro, there the eldest son Carlos began teaching the art of Jiu Jitsu to his brothers, Osvalodo, Gastao jr.,Jorge and the smallest of the brothers, Helio.
While Osvaldo, Gastao jr., Jorge and Carlos Gracie learned and perfected the style of Jiu Jitsu taught to them by Mitsuyo Maeda, Helio , being the smallest of the Gracie brothers, was unable to participate due to his poor health and against doctors recommendations. Despite being frail at the time , Helio learned the moves by watching his brothers and memorizing the techniques. Later Helio , being smaller and more frail , had adjusted and modified the techniques he learned to fit his body type, and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu was born.
Though many would consider Helio as the father of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Carlos gracie has also been credited to helping the creation of the martial art. Whether you consider one or the other as being the father of the sport, one thing is for certain, it was a Gracie who invented the art.
Since the inception of Jiu Jitsu in the early 20th century, the Gracie family has gone on to compete in grappling tournaments worldwide. One of the more prominent visionaries of the Gracie family is Rorion who with the help of his fathers teaching and competing spirit, had envisioned a venue where any martial art would be welcome to be tested against Gracie Jiu Jitsu, and thus the age of modern day combat was born.
Jiu Jitsu with it’s relatively young life has become a staple in most mixed martial artists repertoire. Without Jiu Jitsu , mixed martial arts may never have been born. The explosion of the sport has become a multi-billion dollar industry. Spawning academy after academy across the country and worldwide. This accomplishment can be traced back to the no holds barred competitions in Brazil where early bare-knuckle fights took place.
Where many traditional martial arts fall short with regards to effectiveness, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in it’s purest form can still be studied as an effective means of gaining the leverage or dominant position against a fully resisting opponent. This simple formula with respect to it’s techniques , is the sole reason why it has exploded onto the world market. Countries such as Australia, Germany,Spain, Canada, Japan all have been influenced by the teachings of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
With the new millenim in full force , the popularity of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is at an all time high, As more and more Jiu Jitsu governing bodies get implemented many will say it’s only a matter of time before we see Jiu Jitsu in the Olympics. The sport has grown in popularity due in part by mixed martial arts venues such as The Ultimate Fighting Championship, or the UFC, Strikeforce, Abu Dhabi Combat Club and others.
As a new generation of grapplers train, watch for more Jiu Jitsu competitons and competitors to participate in this exciting , and growing sport of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.