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Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ)

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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 Jiu-Jitsu."

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 any time.

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 the legs.
- takedown, i.e. bringing down the opponent from the standing position using footsweeps, judo throws, tackles, and at the same time maintaining a "safe" position.
- sweep (using the legs to reverse the opponent in your guard to the bottom position while you get on top).
- knee-on-stomach.

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.


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