Jiu-Jitsu, also commonly known as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu was developed from Judo. It is a popular martial art that involves ground fighting and grappling. The modern founder of the sport is commonly believed to be the contemporary figure Carlos Gracie. History of Jiu-Jitsu can however be traced back more than 2000 years.

There are many concepts of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. One of the most important concept is, even being the weaker person, still you can defend himself against the enemy. This is made possible by the correct use of leverage, chokeholds, and proper applications. BJJ builds character, physical fitness, and is a highly effective and popular martial art.

The origin & History of Jiu-Jutsu

In this article we will learn more about the origins of the martial art, tracing its past, and looking to the future. We will learn that the sport did not actually originate in Brazil. We will learn how one family moulded and formed a martial art that has become an International standing across the globe. The martial art is played, practiced, and respected worldwide. An art that builds not just stamina but also character that can be found across a wide spectrum of social levels. From disciplining troubled teens to youngsters eager to be like their favourite film stars. People from all walks of life become as passionate about the art as those that have founded it. So, let’s take a step back in time.

History of Jiu Jutsu

Tracing the Past of BJJ

The history of Jiu-Jitsu is thought to have emerged long before Christ. Its origins coming from the ancient Indian Monks. At that time in India, it was common for the monks to have to defend themselves from barbarian attacks. Over the passing of time, the monks migrated to various countries, one being in China. Tracing the Origin & History of Jiu-Jitsu, it became well known and practiced in China, and thereafter, in Japan. From Japan, the martial art would then spread to Brazil in the year 1914. The key role of its spreading was played by the Japanese martial arts champion, Esai Maeda.

Initially, Maeda taught Carlos Gracie, the eldest son of his friend Gastao Gracie. Gracie then further extended the art by teaching it to his four brothers. Together, in 1925, they opened the first BJJ academy in Brazil. The opening of this academy was a very important date in the history of the martial art, that went on to see change, revolution, and a surge in popularity. Their passion and dedication made their academy a success. 

Gracie Brothers: Instigating Revolutionary Changes to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

The brothers were passionate about the martial art. It was not so much of an occupation but for them, a passion driven from within. Without this inner passion, it is highly unlikely that the art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu would have become what it is today. It should be noted however, that of the four brothers, all united to one cause, each having their very own personality. Of the four brothers, it was Helio who brought about revolutionary changes to the art. Helio was different from his brothers, perhaps not mentally or in his way of thinking, but physically.

Jiu Jutsu Brothers

Unlike his three brothers, Helio was petite in frame and build. Normally, amongst brothers, this would make Helio the weakest. But Helio did the exact opposite to what you would expect. He played on his size and weight and made it his advantage. His emphasis was in leverage, as when using such technique, height is not important. This is what would make the martial art adaptable to people of any height. In fact, many of his techniques actually gave advantage to the shorter of opponents. Even in present times, the best martial arts fighter and instructors are most often shorter than the average in height. 

Helio went on to become world-class in what he taught and practiced. He would also fight in the historically longest battle ever in Jiu-Jitsu, against Japan’s best-ever fighter, Masahiko Kimura. This battle lasted for three hours and forty five minutes, with no breaks and no rests. It wasn’t just a normal fight, it was the most intense fight that the spectators had ever seen or are likely to ever see in their lives. 

The work of Helio is still prevalent today, not just in Brazil but across the globe. He introduced the colored belt system that we still use today, as well as setting up the very first BJJ federation in 1967. The setting up of the federation is another extremely important milestone in the history of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Around the same year, a split between himself and his brother Carlos occurred. Each had chosen their own rules and practices. However, there were only little changes to the core set of rules. The brothers would all remain keen competitors and instructors with their split not affecting their passion for the art.  

Carlos Junior founded the Confederacao Brasilera in 1993, a federation that is still amongst the most active today. It would be this same federation that became the instrument in the founding and establishment of the world BJJ championships. The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu championships steadily gained its popularity and continued to grow from strength to strength. 

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu was passed down through the generations. It was carried far and wide. Instructors from Brazil taught the art across the world. Nowadays, the martial art is used for self-defense, sports, military, and competitions. All over the world, from Europe in the West, to America, Australia, and the East. You’ll find academies where students of all ages are learning BJJ. The art became more prominent internationally at the start of the 1990’s. It was around that time that Royce Gracie won the 4th Ultimate Fighting Championship. He fought and defeated experts in boxing, Muay Thai, Karate, and Taekwondo. BJJ is now often played as part of mixed martial arts, both in competitions as well as in training. To win at mixed martial arts, prowess and ground fighting are required, and these skills come from the knowledge and art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Tracing the Origin & History of Jiu-Jitsu
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Tracing the Origin & History of Jiu-Jitsu
The modern art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu was derived from Japanese Jiu Jitsu and brought to popularity by the Gracie brothers through their teachings in Brazil and California and their participation in the UFC
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