Jiu-Jitsu is one of the most popular martial arts in the world today. It’s an essential part of training for any Mixed Martial Arts fighter. It’s importance was demonstrated by Royce Gracie all the way back at UFC 1 when he became the first Ultimate Fighting Champion using Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. But where does Jiu-Jitsu come from?
Where Jiu-Jitsu comes from
Jiu-Jitsu comes from Japan and originated sometime in the 17th century. It was created to train Japanese warriors in unarmed combat. It uses a variety of strikes, holds and submissions in order to defeat an opponent.
By the year 1800 the martial art had evolved into multiple different styles known as “Ryu”. Some of these “Ryu” even included the use of weapons.
Then, in 1882 a man by the name of Kano Jigoro Shihan developed his own Ryu derived from Japanese Jiu-Jitsu which would go on to become Judo. Judo, unlike most other Ryu, would end up as one of the most practiced martial arts in the world.
One of Kano’s students, Mitsuyo Maeda, then emigrated to Brazil in 1914 with the aim to help the growing Japanese colony at the request of the Japanese government. While there, he met a local politician by the name of Gastao Gracie. Gastao agreed to use his influence as a politician to help Maeda. As a way to say thank you, Maeda agreed to teach Gastao’s son Carlos Gracie, martial arts. And the rest as they say, is history.
The Brazilian Influence
Carlos, with the help of his brothers (Helio, Oswaldo, Gastao Jr andGeorge) went on to further refine the teachings of Maeda to specialize specifically in ground fighting. They then opened the first ever Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu academy in 1925.
Helio Gracie was especially influential in the development of modern day BJJ. Because of his small stature, Helio was unable to perform a lot of the moves that were taught at the early Jiu-Jitsu classes. Instead, he watched, learned and adapted his style to suit his size.
One day when Carlos was unable to take a class, Helio agreed to step in as an instructor. He did such a good job that from that day on, Helio became a full time instructor at the gym and his style of Jiu-Jitsu became more and more widespread. It’s because of this that Helio is thought of as the Grandfather of modern day Jiu-Jitsu.
The Evolution of Jiu-Jitsu Timeline
Japanese vs Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
Is Jiu-Jitsu from Japan or Brazil then? While the martial art originated in Japan, the popular brand of Jiu-Jitsu that most people refer to today is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. This is commonly referred to as BJJ or Gracie Jiu-Jitsu.
BJJ is more suitable for sport, has no strikes and takes place on the ground.
Because of the reason it was developed, japanese jiu-jitsu is more suitable for the battlefield. It includes more strikes and takes place both standing up and on the ground.