For many people, all they know about Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is that it is a type of martial art from Brazil. But this special style of fighting, so prevalent in today’s MMA fighting, has a long and proud history and has made a huge impact in the martial arts community worldwide.
While the name Jiu-Jitsu is the common name associated with the art, it truly was born out of the Japanese martial art of Kodokan judo. This type of judo emphasizes grappling as well as ground fighting combat skills, which can be huge advantage for a smaller fighter competing against someone larger or stronger. The grappling skills, chokeholds, joint-locks and ground fighting taught within this discipline very often negate the natural advantages of a larger opponent.
Mitsuyo Maeda, a renowned Kodokan judo master, was the first to introduce the sport in Brazil, where it quickly became popular. Maeda had been showcasing his skills on a world tour, and one of his main stops was in Brazil. During a 1916 exhibition, Carlos Grace was in attendance and was so impressed by the display, he asked to become a student of Maeda.
After training with Maeda, Carlos Gracie teamed with his brothers to open a martial arts academy that emphasized Jiu-Jitsu techniques. The Gracie academy opened in 1925, and the brothers began training dozens of willing students. The Gracies also held competitions, inviting fighters of any fighting style to come and challenge the Gracie fighters. In nearly every no-holds barred bout, the Gracie fighters easily beat their opponents. The advantages of learning of Jiu-Jitsu became clear very quickly, and the sport grew exponentially throughout Brazil.
The Gracie’s youngest sibling, Helio, was a huge part of the development of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Physically weaker than his siblings and prone to illness, he hardly seemed to be destined to become a giant in the field of martial arts. However, he spent several years simply observing his brothers teachings. His observations paid off, and when he began sparring or rolling with his brothers, his talents became apparent, and he is largely responsible for transforming Kodokan judo skills into Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. There are many other significant influences in the art, as well, including the Machado Family, Luis Franca and Oswaldo Fadda.
It seems only fitting that a member of the Gracie family would bring Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu into the eye of the American public. Royce Gracie quickly showed Americans the advantage of learning Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu when he easily won the first two Ultimate Fighting Championships. He also won UFC 4, and after that, hundreds of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu studios, emphasizing the Gracie techniques, opened throughout the country.
Nolan Barias loves blogging about mixed martial arts benefits. For more information about MMA lessons in San Diego or to find local jiu jitsu San Diego trainers, please go to The Arena MMA website now.