Brazilian Jiu Jitsu: What Is It and Its History! (A Beginners Guide)
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, commonly abbreviated as BJJ, is basically a mixed martial art or combat sport.
It differs from other martial arts in that it focuses on grappling (or ground fighting).
The art traces its origin from the Judo ground fighting techniques and it came to be its own combat following adaptations, experiments, and practices of Judo. Here's a post on jiu jitsu vs judo that I wrote.
There’s more into the history of Jiu Jitsu and how it came to be as you’ll discover in this post…
What is Brazilian Jiu Jitsu All About?
The grappling art works on the concept that as a weaker or smaller person who’s well trained, you can successfully defend yourself or another person against a bigger, stronger aggressor.
It teaches you a broad range of fighting techniques that you can use to get enough leverage to take an assailant to the ground, where you can apply specific techniques like choke holds or joint locks to defeat them.
The highly popular sport is not only used in self-defense situations, but also for sports grappling tournaments.
Sparring and drilling plays a central role in the training in relation to making progress and ascending through the ranking system.
There’s even a premium for sparring in the sports tournaments!
BJJ can also be used for building character in youngsters, fitness training, body building, and it’s also an ultimate way of life.
The Origin and History of Jiu Jitsu
As we’ve just mentioned above, judo is regarded as the parent sport for BJJ.
Around mid-1800s, there were several fighting styles in Japan. Though they had varying fighting techniques, they all incorporated a wide range of hand to hand combat such as grappling, strikes, disarms, and weapon-based attacks.
Later on, in the 1880s, one of the practitioners of these arts, Jigoro Kano, came up with his own style (it was based on full power practice against the resisting, fully skilled opponents). His new sport was completely different from all the other types of sports and later evolved to become Judo.
Roughly 30 years after the development of Judo,Mitsuo Maeda (one of Kano’s top students) set on a journey to Brazil. Unknown to him, his journey would bring forth a chain of events that would give birth to the world’s most popular sport- BJJ!
The Birth of BJJ
Maeda’s specialty was ground fighting (newaza). He was well versed on take downs and throws.
On traveling to Brazil in 1914, he befriended a businessman known as Gastão Gracie. Later on, he accepted the businessman’s son, Carlos Gracie, as one of his students. The teenager learned the Judo sport for several years and then shared the new knowledge with his younger brothers.
Unfortunately, one of his brothers by the name Helio had difficulties executing the various judo techniques due to his limited strength and diminutive size.
As a result, he start began making adjustments to the Judo techniques he had already learned—he focused on refining them until they could suit anyone regardless of size and strength.
Through these innovations, BJJ was born!
In the following years,the Gracies continuing refining and testing the new art through participating in various matches.
For you info, they usually competed practitioners of the other martial arts. And they won in most of the matches.
The Spread of BJJ To Other Parts of The World
As more and more years went by, the art continued evolving—incorporating wrestling as well as other grappling arts into the art. However, it remained popular within Brazil only, until Hélio’s son, Rorion, set on a journey to the United States in a bid to spread the sport.
His journey was significant in that it forever changed the way the entire world viewed this sport.
On arrival in United States in the 1970s, Rorion was eager to show to the world his family art. He joined hands with a business partner, and together, they began laying the groundwork for a martial arts tournament to help demonstrate the effectiveness of BJJ.
They named the contest UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship). It had few rules, and involved fighters from different martial arts in a one-night, single elimination tournament.
The first ever contest (UFC1) was held in 1993, where Rorion appointed his brother Royce to represent the BJJ discipline in the tournament. He chose his younger brother, who had a slender body plus unassuming appearance because he believed he was the ideal person to show the world the effectiveness of Jiu Jitsu.
Amazingly, Royce (who was the smallest participant in the tournament) dominated opponents from various disciplines. This shocked the spectators who expected the little Brazilian to be defeated easily.
BJJ: The Evolution Begins
To the many people who witnessed the first UFC tournament, they had a completely new belief— regardless of how small or weak you might look it was total possible to defeat a stronger, bigger opponent using proper technique and leverage.
As Royce went on to win the next several UFC tournaments, it was now crystal-clear that BJJ was the newest kid in the block. Consequently, artists all over the globe began seeking out instruction in the BJJ art.
Modern day Jiu Jitsu
As of now, Jiu Jitsu is the fastest growing martial art around the globe. The countless academies established across all the corners of the globe are more than enough evidence of the sport’s widespread popularity.
The wild growth of the sport has also led to established of a governing body, the IBJJF (international Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Foundation) which organizes yearly UFC tournaments that draw thousands of spectators.
The art is still evolving every new day, with its practitioners investing new moves and techniques to make it even better.
Overall, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is doubtlessly the art that you should get learning as soon as yesterday!