BRAZILIAN JIU JITSU
A Jiu Jitsu Origin Story
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) is a martial art, self-defense system and combat sport, developed from Kodokan Judo by the legendary Gracie family (Rolls Gracie pictured above) in the early to mid 20th century in Brazil.
Despite being one of the essential 'Three Pillars' of the modern MMA athlete's skill-set (alongside striking & wrestling), BJJ promotes unique principles that allow a smaller, weaker individual to utilize leverage-based techniques to overcome bigger, stronger, more aggressive opponents.
For decades in Brazil, the Gracie family tested and refined their new form of Jiu Jitsu through a steady stream of infamous "challenge matches" (contests with few rules) that pitted the Gracies and their students against practitioners of other martial arts. The Gracies rarely lost and BJJ continued to evolve over the years, eventually incorporating aspects of wrestling and other grappling arts into the curriculum.
BJJ would remain relatively unknown outside of Brazil until the younger generation of Gracies emigrated with the sole mission of spreading the art of BJJ, a move that would change the way the world viewed martial arts and fighting forever.
Rorion Gracie arrived in the United States in the late 1970s. Anxious to expose the public to his family’s art, and drawing inspiration from the challenge matches that had been taking place in Brazil since BJJ’s founding, Rorion began to lay the groundwork for a martial arts tournament intended to demonstrate the effectiveness of BJJ.
The first UFC (UFC 1) took place in 1993, and Rorian appointed his younger brother, Royce (pictured below), as BJJ’s representative in the tournament. Royce, the event’s smallest participant, dominated opponent after opponent, shocking spectators who expected the little Brazilian in the white Gi to be easily defeated. For many, Royce’s victory was a revelation, it really was possible to defeat bigger, stronger opponents with the proper use of technique and leverage. Royce would go on to win the next several UFC events, and martial artists all over the world would begin to seek out instruction in the art of BJJ.
The BJJ revolution had begun.
The Modern Era
The Gracie family has been the driving force in the growth of Jiu-Jitsu and the revolution in the martial arts around the world. Mauricio Gomes & his son Roger Gracie continue to lead the way in both the evolution of Sport Jiu Jitsu & preservation of the arts foundation as a powerful system of self-defence.