India more than 2000 years before Christ by Buddhist Monks. Because their religious and moral values did not
allow the use of weapons, these monks were forced to develop an empty hand system of self-defense to protect
themselves against barbarian attacks, which were common at the time.
of physics such as center of gravity, balance, weight shifting, momentum and friction as well as on the human body
vital and weakest points. Their system spread through China and eventually settled in Japan where it was elaborated
on, becoming the first martial art style known as Jujitsu.
situation was throwing, striking, or grappling. In the mid-1800’s in Japan, there were a large number of styles
of jiu-jitsu. Techniques varied between styles, but generally included all manner of unarmed combat (strikes,
throws, locks, chokes, wrestling, etc.) and occasionally some weapons training. Along the years the Japanese split
the techniques and developed other martial arts styles which used limited techniques, such as Karate, Kumdo, Aikido
the martial art Judo in the late 1880’s. One of Kano’s primary insights was to include full-power practice
against resisting, competent opponents, rather than solely rely on the partner practice that was much more common
at the time.
to Brazil in 1914. He was helped a great deal by the Brazilian politician Gastão Gracie, whose father George Graci
e had emigrated to Brazil himself from Scotland. In gratitude for the assistance, Maeda taught jiu-jitsu to Gastao’s
son Carlos Gracie. Carlos in turn taught his brothers Osvaldo, Gastão Jr., Jorge, and Helio. In 1925, Carlos and
his brothers opened their first jiu-jitsu academy, and Gracie Jiu-Jitsu was born in Brazil.
progressed, however, the brothers (notably Carlos and Helio) and their students refined their art via brutal
no-rules fights, both in public challenges and on the street. Particularly notable was their willingness to
fight outside of weight categories, permitting a skilled small fighter to attempt to defeat a much larger opponent.
Carlos and his brothers changed the original art by adapting the techniques so that they depended mostly upon
leverage, rather than strength and explosiveness by concentrating more and more on ground fighting, especially
utilizing the guard position. This allowed a weaker man to defend against a stronger one, bide his time, and
eventually emerge victorious.
a total of eighteen vale tudo fights himself and proved to be the pioneer of the MMA sport. While other Gracie’s
avoided punches and kicks he was the first to combine these techniques with his excellent Jiu-Jitsu skills. Most
notable are his four matches with Valdemar Santana, who had defeated his uncle Helio Gracie. In October 1955
Carlson fought Santana to a draw in a Jiu-Jitsu match. In 1956 and 1957 Carlson won two fights and in 1959
they again fought to a draw.
to a new level. Although he was not a large man, his ability to apply leverage using all of his limbs was
unprecedented. At this time the techniques of the open guard and its variants (spider guard, butterfly guard)
became a part of BJJ. Rolls also developed the
first point system for jiu-jitsu only competition. The competitions required wearing a gi, awarded points
(but not total victories) for throws and takedowns, and awarded other points for achieving different ground
positions (such as passing an opponent’s guard).
throughout Brazil and much of the world. He was aguably the last Gracie Jiu-Jitsu champion dominating for
two decades since the early 1980’s, in both jiu-jitsu competition and no-rules MMA competition held first
in Japan by the Shooto organization in 1989.
Gracie art of jiu-jitsu worked. In Brazil, no-rules Mixed Martial Art (MMA) contests (known as “vale tudo”)
had been popular since Carlos Gracie first opened his academy in 1925, but in the world at large most martial
arts competition was internal to a single style, using the specialized rules of that style’s practice.
events in the United States that began in 1993. They pitted experts of different martial arts styles against each
other in an environment with very few rules, in an attempt to see what techniques “really worked” when put under
pressure. Rorion also entered his brother Royce Gracie, an expert in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, as one of the contestants.
At one event he defeated four different fighters in one night. This, from a fighter that was smaller than most
of the others (at 170 lbs, in an event with no weight classes), looked thin and scrawny, and used techniques that
most observers, even experienced martial artists, didn’t understand, since the ground fighting strategy and techniques
of BJJ are among the most sophisticated in the world. Besides the immediate impact of an explosion of interest in BJJ
across the world (particularly across North America), the lasting impact of Royce’s early UFC dominance is that almost
every successful MMA fighter now includes BJJ as a significant portion of their training.
1990’s Roberto “Gordo” Correa, a BJJ black belt, injured one of his knees, and to protect his leg he spent a lot
of practice time in the half-guard position. When he returned to high-level jiu-jitsu competition, he had the
best half-guard technique in the world. A position that had been thought of as a temporary stopping point, or
perhaps a defensive-only position, suddenly acquired a new complexity that rapidly spread throughout the art.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is widely practiced throughout many parts of the world and is continuously evolving as a result.
It is the greatest strength of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu that it is not based on rigid tradition, but on the principle
of continuous improvement tested in live sparring in every class.