What is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a grappling martial art. For
those unfamiliar with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, it looks
similar to wrestling. There is no striking of any kind,
no punches or kicks. Instead, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu utilizes
natural body leverage to obtain dominant control on
the ground. The art was based on early 20th century
Kodokan Judo which was itself then a recently-developed
system (founded in 1882), based on multiple schools
(or Ryu) of Japanese Jiu-Jitsu.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, when compared to modern Kodokan
judo and Japanese Ju-Jitsu, places much more emphasis
on ground fighting and submission techniques. It promotes
the principle that a smaller, weaker persons using leverage
and proper technique can successfully defend themselves
against a bigger, stronger assailant.
BJJ can be trained for self-defence, sport grappling
tournaments (gi and no-gi) and mixed martial arts (MMA)
competition. 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 sport is also known under names: BJJ, Gracie Jiu-Jitsu
(GJJ), Machado Jiu-Jitsu (RCJ).
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu originated when a master in the
martial arts sports of Jiu-Jitsu named Mitsuyo Maeda,
known later as "Conde Komo", migrated from
Japan to Brazil in 1914. Jiu-jitsu has never been taught
to a non-Japanese before, but Maeda agreed to teach
Brazilian politician and businessman Gastão Gracie's
son Carlos, as long as the knowledge stayed within the
family. After Komo's death Carlos opened the "Academia
Gracie de Jiu-Jitsu" and started to share his knowledge
with his brothers (ten of them had later black belt).
Carlos also taught them his philosophies of life, as
well as his concepts of natural nutrition, known today
as "the Gracie diet" , being a special diet
for athletes. Carlos' methods was much refined within
the Gracie family. When the Gracies went to the United
States to spread their art, the system became known
as "Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu" and "Gracie
Brazilian Jiu-jitsu came to international prominence
in the martial arts community in the 1990s, when Royce
Gracie won the first, second and fourth Ultimate Fighting
Championships, which at the time were single elimination
martial arts tournaments.
The typical Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tournament is divided
up into matches between the same belt ranks and weight
classes within the belt ranks. The progressive ranks
in BJJ are white, blue, purple, brown and black belt.
The match begins with competitors standing up on padded
mats wearing judo gi's. Competitors attempt to perform
a takedown using judo-type throws, footsweeps, tackles,
or alternatively, "jumping" up and simultaneously
wrapping their legs around their standing opponent to
get them quickly into "guard." Once on the
ground, they grapple but are allowed to stand up at
Points are awarded for certain techniques, such as:
- gaining a mount, or rear mount position
(a competitor sits astride a prone opponent);
- passing the guard (getting out of the guard-position,
i.e. when one competitor lying on the back wraps his/her
legs around the opponent who usually is kneeling between
- takedown, i.e. bringing down the opponent
from the standing position using footsweeps, judo throws,
tackles, and at the same time maintaining a "safe"
- sweep (using the legs to reverse the opponent
in your guard to the bottom position while you get on
The major governing body for BJJ is The International
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation (IBJJF). It hosts several
of the biggest tournaments in the world, including the
Mundials, Pan American and European Championships. IBJJF
was created by Carlos Gracie, Jr., head of Gracie Barra
and son of Carlos Gracie, the founder of the art. The
IBJJF is closely tied to the Confederação
Brasileira de Jiu-Jitsu, sharing its rules and regulations.