Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, commonly known as BJJ to its practitioners, is a martial art that centers on grappling and control. The key aspect of BJJ is manipulating the position of the opponent in a way that leaves him with no choice but to submit. This control is mostly exerted by taking the opponent to the ground through grappling and then maintaining dominant positions. There are two main types of submissions used by practitioners, joint locks and chokes.
Joint locks involve isolating a limb of an opponent and moving it beyond its normal range of motion. Chokes are designed to disrupt the blood flow to the brain, which can cause loss of consciousness. Both types of holds are broken either by an opponent escaping or submitting by tapping out.
Development of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu was developed from Kodokan Judo ground fighting fundamentals. BJJ showcases the possibility for smaller, conventionally weaker fighters to defend themselves against bigger, stronger opponents. In real-world competition, it is often important to overcome differences in size and strength. This is done through the use of dominant positions, superior leverage, and an excellent grip. Students of BJJ become very familiar with the human body and how it moves through their studies.
Though it was originally derived from Kodokan Judo, there were changes made to the sport of Judo to make it more spectator-friendly and safer for the competitors. Several of these rules caused a decrease in emphasis on the ground fighting aspects of Judo and a reduction in focus on joint locks. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu did not follow these rule changes and that has set it apart as its own sport. The competition has, however, became more sports-oriented by disallowing moves such as slams.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is practiced in a uniform commonly referred to as a ‘gi’, although no-gi BJJ is also a widely practiced variant. The gi is similar to a judogi but is typically made of a lighter fabric and has tighter cuffs around the arms and legs. It is designed this way to minimize the amount of fabric that an opponent can grab and use to manipulate for an advantage. The sport is graded using belts similar to the ones used in its Judo ancestor. The different belts range from white to black but have minor differences in the striping used. There are some major differences between the two systems regarding promotions as BJJ tends to have more informal promotional criteria and a more conservative approach to promotion in general.
Due to this conservative approach to promoting new belts, it is further differentiated from other similar sports such as Karate or Taekwondo. A black belt in BJJ typically takes more than several years to reach. The average time to reach a black belt in BJJ is about ten years with a consistent training schedule. This means that a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is truly considered to be an expert in the sport.
The knowledge gained through the study of the sport allows students the ability to control and subdue opponents regardless of their size, using whatever force they feel is necessary to achieve their goal. This technical knowledge is the result of very hard work and determination. Students of the craft also benefit from increased physical activity, stronger problem-solving skills, and improved social skills and mental health through working with a large group of people towards a common goal.
The majority of students learn Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu through various Mixed Martial Arts or MMA competitions, where BJJ is commonly used. In fact, the early days of MMA were a proving ground of sorts for the sport’s combat effectiveness. As a standalone sport, however, BJJ is distinct. The sport involves a great deal of discipline and mat work, with no kicks or punches thrown. Instead, the emphasis is placed on safe grappling technique with no greater risk of injury than any other contact sport.
Although there is a professional MMA team at the Renzo Gracie Academy, the vast majority of students strictly study the grappling aspects of BJJ. Spending their time honing their craft in this one sport and find great pleasure in doing so.
The Gracie family was instrumental in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu reaching mainstream status. Rorion Gracie co-founded the Ultimate Fighting Championship which allowed greater exposure to the sport and Royce Gracie showed everyone that BJJ was a serious sport when he used his skills to win the first, second, and fourth UFC tournaments.
Renzo Gracie is a senior member of the famous Gracie family and a world-class Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner. The Gracie family has dedicated much of their time teaching Jiu-Jitsu to fighters and helping to shape the world of mixed martial arts as we have come to know it today. Based out of his world-famous location in New York, he employs many of the top trainers from Brazil including members of his own illustrious family to teach his system to an ever-growing number of students. Renzo’s charismatic way of teaching, along with his passion and world-renowned skills make his academy a premier spot to learn the sport. Having fun among like-minded people ranging from famous professional athletes to the average everyday enthusiast.
Classes at the academy run six days a week, featuring a strength and endurance building warm-up followed by a demonstration of techniques. Once the warm-up and demonstrations are complete, students practice honing their skills with other practitioners of similar skill levels. It is a demanding workout that provides the student with a sense of accomplishment and a new set of skills. The academy is a welcoming place for new faces.
Come down and check it out if you’ve been thinking of trying something new. Feel free to watch a class or better yet take one yourself, and watch as you fall in love with the sport which will quickly become one of the most cherished aspects of your life. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu will provide you with new confidence, knowledge, body dexterity, and a level of fitness that few people will ever experience.