What is Brazilian Jujitsu?
Brazilian Jijitsu is a martial art, combat sport, and a self defense system that focuses on grappling and especially ground fighting.
Brazilian Ju Jitsu is a full-contact martial art, combat sport and self-defence system rolled into one, with a strong emphasis on grappling and ground fighting techniques.
Brazilian Ju Jitsu was created by Helio Gracie in order to provide a smaller or weaker person with the tools to effectively defend themselves against a bigger more powerful opponent.
As highlighted in the formative years of Brazilian Ju Jitsu, leverage is key when using BJJ techniques, which have largely been created for fighters when they are on their backs (smaller fighters are often put in this position during an attack).
The main aim of BJJ is to take your opponent to the ground and once there try to escape the ‘guard’ of their opponent. Once this is accomplished the fighter may move to either side to gain control (across the opponent’s chest) or adopt the mount position where they sit on top of the opponent’s chest area. From here they may look to repeatedly strike or attempt to apply a submission hold.
The guard position involves wrapping your legs around your opponent, which in turn limits their movement and this enables the BJJ practioner to fight effectively from this position - on their backs. A number of submission holds can be deployed or they may try to flip their opponent over to regain the advantage.
The techniques that were developed by the Gracie family are continually practiced, tested and refined by current Brazilian Ju Jitsu fighters during their free-fighting bouts.
This has led to a change in focus with fighting strategy and a unique set of rules being developed for British Ju Jitsu competition.
There are 3 categories of BJJ with each one supporting the others:
- Self defence, which incorporates techniques involving striking and unarmed defence against armed attackers)
- Free-fighting competition, this is often known as ‘anything goes’ or ‘vale tudo’ and involves unarmed full-combat, much in the mixed martial arts (mma) mould.
- Sport grappling matches both with and without the gi (martial arts uniform) which involves the use of a full range of submission holds, but where strikes are not permitted. Points are awarded for attaining a superior position from where grappling techniques can be applied more easily so the positions which award the most points are the most naturally sought.
Where did Brazilian JuJitsu originate from?
Brazilian Ju Jitsu was developed by the Gracie family from a combination of Kodokan Judo and Japanese Ju Jitsu at the beginning of the 20th century.
Head of a Japanese immigration colony, Esai Maeda who had been assigned to Brazil became good friends with Gastao Gracie and taught Ju Jitsu to his son Carlos.
Carlos and his 4 brothers went on to open Brazil’s first Ju Jitsu school in 1925 and it was Helio the younger brother who was instrumental in creating Brazilian Ju Jitsu. Helio was slightly built so he altered some of the techniques he had observed from his brothers to suit his smaller stature. He focused on timing and leverage rather than speed and strength and through a process of trial and error Brazilian (Gracie) Jiu-Jitsu was formed.
To test how effective Brazilian Ju Jitsu was, Helio laid down a challenge to the top martial artists in Brazil.
He enjoyed a number of battles including a match against a former world champion in heavyweight wrestling called Wladek Zbyszko. He also defeated Kato who was the number 2 Judoka in the world at that time and this victory gave him the opportunity to face probably the best Ju Jitsu fighter Japan has ever produced. Masahiko Kimura had a weight advantage over Helio of nearly 80 pounds and he went on to win the bout.
Despite this, Kimura was hugely impressed with Helio and the techniques he demonstrated during their match, so much so that he invited Helio to Japan to teach these methods that were non-existent in Japan at that time. This was the recognition that Helio had sought from the finest fighters in the world and was testament to the dedication he had shown in refining the art.
Helio was a true family man and had a son called Rorion, who helped to introduce and promote BJJ throughout the USA in the early 1980’s and the art has become hugely widespread and popular in the US to this day.
Sub-styles or Variations
There have been a number of variations developed from the original Brazilian or Gracie Ju Jitsu with Machado Ju Jits,u which was created by one of the Gracie’s cousins, the most well known.