About Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
The art began with Mitsuyo Maeda, an expert Japanese judoka and member of the Kodokan. Maeda was one of five of the Kodokan’s top groundwork experts that Judo’s founder Kano Jigoro sent overseas to spread his art to the world.
It is often claimed that BJJ is a development of traditional Japanese jujutsu, and that Maeda was a jujutsuka. However, Maeda never trained in jujutsu (although he did train in Kodokan Judo, which itself originated in part from Japanese jujutsu).
Maeda left Japan in 1904 and visited a number of countries giving “jiu-do” demonstrations and accepting challenges from all kinds of martial artists before eventually arriving in Brazil on November 14, 1914.
Once in Brazil Maeda met an influential businessman named Gastão Gracie who helped him get established. In 1916, his 14 year-old son Carlos Gracie watched a demonstration by Maeda at the Teatro da Paz (Theatre of Peace) and decided to learn the art. Maeda accepted Carlos as a student, and Carlos went on to become a great exponent of the art and ultimately, with his younger brother Hélio Gracie became the founder of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, modern Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
In 1921, Gastão Gracie and his family moved to Rio de Janeiro. Carlos, then 17 years old, passed Maeda’s teachings on to his brothers Osvaldo, Gastão and Jorge. Hélio was too young and sick at that time to learn the art, and due to medical imposition was prohibited to take part in the training sessions. Despite that, Hélio learned from watching his brothers. He eventually overcame his health problems and is now considered by many as the founder of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
The art came to international prominence in the martial arts community in the 1990s, when Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu expert Royce Gracie won the first, second and fourth Ultimate Fighting Championships, which at the time were single elimination martial arts tournaments. Royce fought against much-larger opponents who were practicing other styles, including boxing, karate, judo, tae kwon do and wrestling. It has since become a staple art for many MMA fighters.
Sport BJJ tournaments continue to grow in popularity worldwide and have given rise to no-gi submission grappling tournaments, such as the ADCC Submission Wrestling World Championship.