Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has exploded
in popularity in recent years, so we thought it was worth writing a short post
explaining the sport and where it came from, for anyone who was curious about
it or even parents who are wondering if it’s safe for their children.
Spoiler alert: it’s safe for your kids.
What is Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (or BJJ as you’ll see it referred to) is
a martial art, a sport, and a way of life.
There’s nothing quite like it for keeping you fit, building
confidence, and making life-long friends.
For the martial art part of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, most other
fighting sports are about knocking your opponent out. BJJ promotes the concept
that a smaller, weaker person can successfully defend against a bigger,
stronger assailant by using leverage and proper technique.
As a sport, there’s nothing that really compares to it for
keeping fit. The constant pushing and pulling on the mats work every muscle in
your body, building strength and burning fat.
As a way of life, BJJ helps people overcome fears, insecurities,
and self-confidence issues by teaching disciple, respect, and patience.
How BJJ started
If you thought Jiu jitsu was an oriental thing, then you’re
right, so don’t be confused by the Brazil part.
Brazilian Jiu-jitsu has its origins in Judo, which started in Japan in 1882 by Jigoro Kano. Surprisingly by this time, martial arts had all but been abandoned by the Japanese, and the few who did practice were looked down upon by society.
Wanting to promote martial arts as a way of bettering the
soul and not just the body, Kano believed that “jūjutsu” was
insufficient to describe it, so he changed the second character to dō, meaning
way, road or path, which implies a more philosophical context than jutsu (meaning
art or means).
Thus Judo was born.
One of Kano’s students was a man by the name of Mitsuyo Maeda, who went on to become known as the father of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
After mastering his art in Japan, Maeda then travelled the world, giving
“jiu-do” demonstrations and accepting challenges from wrestlers,
boxers, savate fighters and various other martial artists before eventually
arriving in Brazil on November 14, 1914.
The Gracie family
Once in Brazil, Maeda started giving demonstrations in what
was then known as “Kano-ryu Jiu-Jitsu”.
In 1917, at the Da Paz Theatre in the city of Belém, a 14 year old by the name of Carlos Gracie watched one of Maeda’s demonstrations, and was so enamoured he asked to be taken on as a student.
Maeda agreed and the young man went on to become one of the
Carlos and his brother Hélio ended up teaching the sport to their
other brothers, Osvaldo, Gastão, and Jorge. In 1925, Carlos returned to Rio and
opened the first school, known as the “Academia Gracie de Jiu-Jitsu.”
Carlos and his brothers established a solid reputation by
issuing the now famous “Gracie Challenge”. All challengers were
welcome to come and fight with the Gracies in no-holds-barred (NHB) matches.
The Gracies continued to develop the strategies and
techniques they learned from Maeda, honing their skills and eventually creating
a separate martial art, known today as Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
Boxers, Karate champions, and wrestlers all took part, but
what no one expected was a little guy in his pyjamas beating everyone.
Royce Gracie was undefeated in the first FIVE tournaments, beating
much bigger opponents by choking them out or making them submit.
The UFC Hall of Famer is considered to be one of the most influential figures in the history of MMA, revolutionising the sport and popularising Brazilian Jiu Jitsu by introducing it to a world-wide audience.
If you would like to try Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for yourself to see what all the fuss is about, then check out our free 14-day trial.
After a couple of weeks if it’s not for you, it’s not for
you… but if it is, your life will never be the same again.