Brazilian Jiu Jitsu The History Of Bjj

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) is considered by many to be the most effective and efficient martial art for fighting on the ground. It is well-respected as one of the most direct martial art styles for self-defense. In many systems of Brazilian jiu-jitsu, students actually learn an entire system of simple yet effective self-defense techniques based on those taught in Gracie jiu jitsu.

The Spreading Popularity of BJJ

While it was once rare to find a qualified BJJ instructor outside of the East or West coasts of the United States, Brazilian jiu jitsu schools and instructors now run schools in every major city in North America. Also helping spread the popularity of the art, the U.S. Army and other branches of the U.S. military have adapted Gracie jiu-jitsu techniques for hand-to-hand combat. The Army even holds a yearly mixed martial arts competition where service members compete using MMA rules.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu History

Although it shares a lineage with Japanese ju jitsu and judo, Brazilian jiu jitsu is a separate and unique martial art system. Sometimes called “BJJ” for short, the style began when judo and ju-jitsu expert Esai Maeda taught Carlos Gracie. Soon Carlos began teaching his brothers jiu-jitsu, which led to the family opening a jiu jitsu school in Brazil around 1925.

Among the Gracie brothers, Helio was slightest of frame but not of fighting spirit. However, he discovered early on that he would need to adapt the standard techniques of ju-jitsu to allow him an advantage when facing larger opponents. The result of his developments in the art of jiu-jitsu are what is now known as Gracie Jiu-Jitsu.

Various branches of the Gracie family now teach versions of the Gracie style. However the unique heritage and tradition that is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu owes a tremendous debt of gratitude to Grand Master Helio Gracie and his unique insights into technique. It is his emphasis on leverage and controlling the opponent through technique that is the signature of Brazilian style of jiu-jitsu.

Jiu-Jitsu – Here to Stay

Considering the fact that mixed martial arts competition has secured a spot among the most popular of spectator sports worldwide, and with ground grappling being an integral component of MMA, it’s also clear that BJJ is here to stay. Without a doubt, Brazilian jiu-jitsu is destined to become as popular a past-time as martial arts such as tae kwon do and karate. With both men and women becoming interested in jiu-jitsu competition and training, the sport has a bright future ahead.


Mike Massie is a career martial arts instructor and business advisor to martial arts instructors across the globe, including Gary Berger’s Baltimore BJJ school. For more information on Baltimore Brazilian jiu jitsu and for lessons in the Baltimore MD area, visit
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