Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) is a martial art and combat sport that originated in Brazil in the early 20th century. BJJ is a derivative of traditional Japanese Jiu Jitsu, which was brought to Brazil by Mitsuyo Maeda, a Japanese judoka and member of the Kodokan. Maeda was sent to Brazil in 1914 by the Kodokan to help establish a Japanese immigrant community and to promote the sport of judo.
One of the people who trained with Maeda in Brazil was Carlos Gracie. Carlos was not a particularly athletic person, but he was determined to learn the art of Jiu Jitsu. He trained with Maeda for several years and eventually opened his own academy in Rio de Janeiro in 1925. Carlos’ academy was the first BJJ academy in the world and he began to teach the art to his brothers, including Hélio Gracie.
Hélio Gracie was smaller and weaker than his brothers, so he had to adapt the techniques of traditional Japanese Jiu Jitsu to his own body type. He focused on using leverage and technique instead of brute strength, which led to the development of a new style of Jiu Jitsu. This new style became known as Gracie Jiu Jitsu or Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
In the early days, the Gracie family primarily taught their art to members of their own family, and the art was passed down from generation to generation. However, in the 1970s, Carlos’ son, Carlson Gracie, began to actively promote and compete with BJJ. He opened an academy in Rio de Janeiro and started to compete in vale tudo (no-holds-barred) matches and other martial arts competitions.
In the 1980s and 1990s, BJJ started to gain popularity in the United States, thanks in part to the Gracie family’s success in vale tudo competitions and the rise of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). The Gracie family, particularly Rorion Gracie, was instrumental in the early days of the UFC and BJJ became one of the most dominant styles in the sport.
Today, BJJ is a widely popular martial art and sport, with thousands of academies around the world and millions of practitioners. The International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation (IBJJF) is the largest organization for the sport and holds competitions throughout the world, including the World Jiu-Jitsu Championship. BJJ is also popular as a self-defense system and as a method of physical fitness and conditioning.
BJJ has also been adopted by many other martial arts and combat sports, such as mixed martial arts, judo and wrestling. Many wrestlers and judokas use BJJ techniques in their own sport and it’s not uncommon to see BJJ black belts competing in Olympic level wrestling.
One of the unique characteristics of BJJ is its emphasis on live sparring and competition. BJJ practitioners are encouraged to compete as much as possible, which helps to improve their skills and test their techniques against a variety of opponents. This approach to training and competition is one of the reasons why BJJ is considered to be one of the most effective martial arts for real-world self-defense.
BJJ is also known for its strong emphasis on community and camaraderie. Many BJJ practitioners form close friendships with their training partners, and they often refer to each other as “brothers” or “sisters” on and off the mat. This sense of community is one of the reasons why many people are drawn to BJJ and continue to train for years or even decades.