About Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a martial art, combat sport and a form of self-defense that focuses on grappling and especially ground fighting. The art was derived from the Japanese martial art of Kodokan judo in the early 20th century, which was itself developed from a number of schools (or Ryu) of Japanese jujutsu in the 19th century.
It promotes the principle that a smaller, weaker person can successfully defend themself against a bigger, stronger assailant by using leverage and proper technique—most notably by applying joint-locks and chokeholds to defeat the other person. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu can be trained for sport grappling tournaments (gi and no-gi) and mixed martial arts (MMA) competition or self-defense. Sparring (commonly referred to as 'rolling') and live drilling play a major role in training, and a premium is placed on performance, especially in competition.
The art began with Mitsuyo Maeda (aka Conde Koma, or Count Coma in English), 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. Maeda left Japan in 1904 and visited a number of countries giving "judo" demonstrations and accepting challenges from wrestlers, boxers, savate fighters and various other martial artists before eventually arriving in Brazil on November 14, 1914.
Jui-jitsu, as with its parent art of judo, is known as more than just a system of fighting. Since its inception in 1882, judo was separated from older systems of Japanese jui-jitsu. This was more than just Kano's ambition to clearly individualize his art: to Kano, judo wasn't solely a martial art: it was also a sport; a method for promoting physical fitness and building character in young people; and, ultimately, a way (Do) of life.
It is often claimed that BJJ is a development of traditional Japanese jujutsu, not judo, and that Maeda was a jujutsuka. However, Maeda never trained in jujutsu. He first trained in sumo as a teenager, and after the interest generated by stories about the success of judo at contests between judo and jujutsu that were occurring at the time, he changed from sumo to judo, becoming a student of Kano's Kodokan judo. He was promoted to 7th dan in Kodokan judo the day before he died in 1941.
Helio Gracie also held the rank of 6th dan in judo.
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 (though others, such as Carlson Gracie, have pointed to Carlos as the founder of the art).
Hélio competed in several submission judo competitions which mostly ended in a draw. One defeat (in Brazil in 1951) was by visiting Japanese judoka Masahiko Kimura, whose surname the Gracies gave to the arm lock used to defeat Hélio. The Gracie family continued to develop the system throughout the 20th century, often fighting vale tudo matches (precursors to modern MMA), during which it increased its focus on ground fighting and refined its techniques.
Today, the main differences between the BJJ styles is between traditional Gracie Jiu-Jitsu's emphasis on self-defense, and Sport Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu's orientation towards competition. There is a large commonality of techniques between the two. Also, there is a wide variety of ideals in training in different schools in terms of the utilization of technique versus how much to attempt to overpower an opponent.
Jiu-Jitsu 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 often much-larger opponents who were practicing other styles, including boxing, shoot-fighting, karate, judo and tae kwon do. It has since become a staple art for many MMA fighters and is largely credited for bringing widespread attention to the importance of ground fighting. 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.
Style of fighting
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu emphasizes taking an opponent to the ground and utilizing ground fighting techniques and submission holds involving joint-locks and chokeholds also found in numerous other arts with or without ground fighting emphasis. The premise is that most of the advantage of a larger, stronger opponent comes from superior reach and more powerful strikes, both of which are somewhat negated when grappling on the ground.
BJJ permits a wide variety of techniques to take the fight to the ground after taking a grip. Once the opponent is on the ground, a number of maneuvers (and counter-maneuvers) are available to manipulate the opponent into a suitable position for the application of a submission technique. Achieving a dominant position on the ground is one of the hallmarks of the BJJ style, and includes effective use of the guard position to defend oneself from bottom, and passing the guard to dominate from top position with side control, mount, and back mount positions. This system of maneuvering and manipulation can be likened to a form of kinetic chess when utilized by two experienced practitioners. A submission hold is the equivalent of checkmate in the sport. However, it is possible for a combat situation to continue even after a proper submission is performed.