History of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Health and Fitness

Before you even start training for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, isn’t it more wonderful if you know its history so you will appreciate it more? Let’s begin.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu or gentle art is of Japanese origin. Like any other ancient martial arts, its secular beginning cannot be identified. In the 3rd and 8th centuries, fighting styles from India to China are similar. What has been discovered is the place where it has been developed: schools of samurai. However, it has gained popularity when Mitsuyo Maeda, a Kodokan Japanese school instructor and a son of sumo fighter, went to the U.S. in 1904 with teachers from Jigoro Kano’s school to do presentations and challenges in Costa Rica, Panama, El Salvador, Colombia, Honduras, Argentina, Chile and Peru. He also fought in Belgium, England and Spain, where he earned the nickname Count Koma.


Count Koma of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu was Born

Maeda, in July 1914, set foot in Brazil and changed history. He challenged and defeated Pè de Bola, a capoeira artist. Count Koma, well-known among Jiu-Jitsu professors, also called on famous boxers to fight him. Jack Johnson did not accept the invitation. He promoted the first tournament of Jiu-Jitsu in Brazil, which technically became the introduction of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in the country.


The Beginnings of Gracie Academy

Three years after, Carlos Gracie, saw one of Maeda’s fights in Belèm. Through his father Gastão, who happened to be the friend of the Japanese, Maeda taught him the art of self-defense. Count Koma introduced to him the basics and full-on sparring session with an opponent – randori. The young Gracie became passionate about this type of martial arts that the grandmaster passed his knowledge to his siblings and in 1925 he opened the Gracie Academy, the first BJJ Academy of the family.

With 21 offspring, 13 of whom wore black-belts, Gracie added another link to the chain. Helio, Carlos’s brother, made some technical innovations. The Gracies did not stop challenging stevedores and capoeira artists in Brazil. Their victories earned the family front-page stories and popularity.


The Gracies are Unstoppable

It was during the 1960s when vale-tudo, a no-rule fight designed by Carlos, was integrated to Jiu-Jitsu. The Guanabara Jiu-Jitsu Federation was formed in 1967 under the National Sports Confederation of Brazil. Helio became the president while the latter was the Consultative Council’s president.


The Birth of MMA

The success of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu was recorded during the ‘90s when Rorion formed the Ultimate Fighting Championship, which paved the way for the sport we all know at present as MMA. The family – from Royce Gracie to his brothers and cousins – made MMA big.

Carlos Gracie Jr. organised championships and made the art a regulated sport. It resulted in the creation of the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation in 1994. The group promoted tournaments participated in by more than 3,000 athletes from 50 countries. World Championships was held in 1996.

One century after Maeda left Brazil, Jiu-Jitsu reached from Alaska to Mongolia, from Abu Dhabi to Japan. The history of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu continues to be written whenever a new white-belt fighter sets foot in a gym to train for MMA.