History of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, although very similar in many respects to Judo and other traditional systems of Japanese Jiu Jitsu, differs in some fundamental ways from all other related systems.¬†BJJ has followed a unique course over the last 80 years. The Gracie challenge and participation in countless free fighting events has led to a different emphasis in fighting strategy and the development of unique rules for BJJ sport competition. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is divided into three broad categories, each mutually supportive of the others; self-defense (including striking techniques and unarmed techniques against armed opponents), free fighting competition (commonly referred to as “vale tudo” or “anything goes” events, now popularly called MMA), and sport grappling with and without the gi (matches that include a wide range of submission holds, but no striking). Even the rules of sport grappling matches are designed to ingrain the proper strategy to be applied in the street. For example in a sport BJJ match, points are awarded based on achieving superior positions, positions from which not only grappling techniques can be more readily applied, but also from which strikes may be applied or defended. Students naturally seek the positions that will garner them the most points, thereby constantly reinforcing the most efficient strategy for real life confrontations. This “position-submission” strategy has proven to be the most effective for real life confrontations.

The overall fighting strategy of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is designed to equip a physically smaller or weaker individual with an effective method of defending themselves against a larger and stronger attacker. When applying BJJ techniques, leverage is paramount, as leverage is the secret to the amplification and most efficient use of force. BJJ also has the most developed methods of fighting while on one’s back, a position weaker fighters will often find themselves when attacked. The innovations of the Gracie family, most notably by grandmasters Carlos and Helio Gracie, and continuing with BJJ fighters today, through constant testing and refinement in the crucible of actual fights, has resulted in this unique style of Jiu Jitsu.