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What is Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?


Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) is a martial art, combat sport, and a self-defense system that focuses on grappling, take-downs, and most importantly ground fighting. BJJ developed from Judo which was brought to Brazil from Japan by Mitsuyo Maeda (1848 - 1941), also know as Otavio Maeda. He changed his name to Otavio when he became naturalized in Brazil. Maeda became an advocate and promoter of Japanese emigration to Brazil. He eventually settled down and married. He was awarded the prestigious title of 7th Dan but was not aware of this due to his death. Mitsuyo had a statue built in Japan for all hisaccomplishments as a teacher of Judo.


Mitsuyo Maeda

Maeda in America

Maeda was one of the five Judo expert that were chosen to spread Judo across the world. He traveled the world challenging their best fighters and showing why Judo is such a good style of martial arts. During the early 1900s Maeda traveled across North America demonstrating to the public and Universities. Some of the well known Universities where he traveled to were Colombia University and Princeton University. On February 17, 1905 Maeda demonstrated at Princeton where he took down N. B. Tooker, a prized Princeton football player. News quickly started to spread about his performance and defeats.




Mitsuyo Maeda in Brazil

Maeda eventually made his way to Brazil where he performed in the American circus in Belem. The circus was co-run by Gastao Gracie (father of Carlos Gracie) it was located in the Teatro Da Paz in Belem, Teatro da paz (Peace Theatre Belem, Brazil)Brazil. He befriended Gastao and eventually took his son Carlos Gracie as his student. Maeda established the first judo academy in Brazil in the Teatro Polytheama. Carlos learned Kano Jiu Jitsu a unique style of fighting developed by Maeda this technique was refined during his travels.




Old Footage of Carlos and Helio Gracie BJJ



Carlos Gracie and the Development of Modern Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

Carlos Gracie BJJ

Carlos to some is considered the father of modern Brazilian jiu jitsu, he learned the art and developed his own techniques which he passed down to his younger sibling. Carlos' younger brother Helio Gracie developed the style of modern JiuJitsu that we know today. Some notable facts about Carlos Gracie, he had 21 kids, 13 of which received black belts in Jiu Jitsu.

Helio Gracie Father of BJJ

Helio Gracie BJJ

Helio Gracie was a sick and smaller child in his youth and was not able to practice with his older brothers, but once he overcame his childhood sicknesses he began to learn and master jiu jitsu. He eventually deviated from Carlos Gracies Jiu Jitsu to a more ground oriented art form because he was unable to perform many judo moves that required opposition to an opponent's strength.




Modern Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu now is a major spectator sport that has come a long way from Japan. It has gained international appeal and it's popularity has been on a steady rise in America. Major martial arts apparel manufacturers such as Atama, Venum, Hayabusa, Vulkan and others have improved the technologies of their gear and developed different types of weaves for the gi's/kimonos that help reduce weight and increese strength to imporve the jiu jitsu practitioner. Popularity of non-gi brazilian jiu jitsu has also increased due to jiu jitsu becoming widely used in MMA fighting.

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