History of Jiu Jitsu

Jiu-Jitsu or Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) is a very ancient game, and its moves originated from the age of samurai. It has started to gain popularity because of the effectiveness in mixed martial art fights such as “One Championship and Universal Fighting Championship.” 

Roots of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

In the early days, BJJ started in Japan, and the Japanese samurai developed it so that it can be used on the battlefield. It was used as the last line of defense by the warriors who found themselves afoot and disarmed.

Because the samurai were wearing heavy armor that restricted their mobility and ability to joint locks and throws. BJJ continues to develop over time, and different styles were developed. 

A time came when BJJ was converted from armed combat to self-defense technique. All the styles are different, but few things, such as joint locks, strangles, and throws are part of each style. In Jiu-Jitsu, one style that is “One man’s style” is famous and always above the others. In this style, you can achieve maximum efficiency with minimal effort. 

Jigoro Kano and the development of judo before Jiu Jitsu

A student of traditional Jiu-Jitsu has founded a school named as Kodokan in 1882. In this martial arts school, Kano taught students the most effective techniques of Jiu-Jitsu.

The unique art of Kano was latterly known as Judo. In Judo he emphasized randori. Students of Kano practiced joint locks, chokes, throws, and takedowns against the resisting opponents. Once the Judo was founded and almost after the 30 years, students of Kano participated in different events, and he gained the status of the most effective martial art of the world. 

Mitsuo Maeda and the Gracie Family

Mitsuo Maeda started to take training at Kodokan in 1894, and in no time, he became the top student of Kano. The specialty of Mitsuo Maeda was ground fighting, and he was also good at throws and takedowns.

Mitsuo Maeda

Mitsuo Maeda traveled to Brazil in 1914, and he became the friend of a businessman, Gastao Gracie.

The son of Gastao Gracie became the student of Mitsuo Maeda. Carlos learned the newaza-based style of judo from Mitsuo Maeda for several years, and then he shared the knowledge with his younger brothers. 

Ju Jitsu

Over time, Gracie’s family refined their skill of BJJ to start participating in challenge matches. They also participated in fights against other fighters, and they rarely lost a fight.

BJJ continues to evolve over the years, and eventually, it became part of wrestling and other grappling arts. Although BJJ might not gain popularity and remain unknown if the Rorion was not migrated to the USA to spread the art of BJJ. 

Royce Gracie and the Ultimate Fighting Championship 

In 1970, Rorion Gracie arrived in the United States. He was anxious to show his family art to the public, and he also gains inspiration from the challenge matches. Rorion, along with his business partner, started groundwork to make BJJ famous. They named the contest as the Ultimate Fighting Championship. UFC had a few fighting rules. Rorion was so confident about his family art, and he believes that UFC can be the best way to showcase the art of BJJ. 

For the first time, UFC was played in 1993, and Rorion appointed his younger brother as the representative of the tournament. Rorion thought that Royce was the ideal person to introduce this art to the world. The smallest participant in the event was Royce, and he defeated many opponents. He shocked the world by defeating bigger and heavy opponents with the effective use of techniques. Royce wins many fights in UFC, and finally, their efforts start to show good results, and the BJJ revolution had begun. 

Jiu-Jitsu Philosophy

The key principle of Jiu-Jitsu is the philosophy of leveraging an opponent's force rather than trying to oppose force with force. It does so by using the direction and weight of an opponent's attack while using jujutsuka to control the balance of the opponent and hence prevent the opponent from resisting the counterattack

It is an art commonly used in ground fighting. It includes takedown, self-defense, and submissions. In submission, you can either cut off the air supply of the opponent known as chokes or take advantage of joints by armbars. The fighters of Jiu-Jitsu feel comfortable when they are fighting from the position of the guard. In guard position, one leg of the opponent is grabbed, and it limits the movement of the opponent. This guard position separates this martial art from the other grappling styles. 

Belts of Jiu-Jitsu

The colors of the BJJ belt system followed closely to Judo’s founder Dr. Jigoro Kano.

His motive behind the development of such a system was to be able to visually track his students’ progress. During the early days of belt ranking, students only had one belt, that started off white. After every promotion, they dyed their belt with a darker color (white -> blue -> purple -> brown -> black -> red).

The darker color both signified maturity within the art and keeping the belt throughout the fighter's journey.

Jiu-Jitsu Belt System

Red Belt for Gracie and Jiu-Jitsu

The ultimate 10th degree red belt was given only to the pioneers of Brazilian jiu-jitsu, namely the Gracie brothers:

1. Carlos Gracie – (Brazil, 1902–94) was taught judo by Otávio Mitsuyo Maeda, a Japanese emigrant to Brazil who was then a 4th dan Kodokan judoka. Carlos then passed the teachings on to his brothers Oswaldo, Gastão Jr., Jorge, and Hélio. In 1925, the brothers opened their first academy in Brazil, marking the beginning of Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

2. Gastão Gracie

3. Jorge (George) Gracie

4. Hélio Gracie – (Brazil, 1913–2009) was a Brazilian martial artist who, together with his brother Carlos Gracie, founded the martial art of Gracie jiu-jitsu, known internationally as Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ). Until his death, Gracie was the only living 10th degree master of that system and is widely considered as one of the first sports heroes in Brazilian history.

5. Oswaldo Gracie

Basic Goals

BJJ fighters generally want to take their opponents to the ground. Depending on the situation, either they go for a submission lock or strike continually. BJJ fighters can be very dangerous when they are on the back. Using the guard position various submission moves can be performed. 

Sub Styles of Jiu-Jitsu

Royce Gracie made his family style of Jiu-Jitsu very famous. Still, other variations have developed in this martial art. All the sub-styles are attributable to Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. There is another style that was founded by the cousins of Gracies, is known as Machado Jiu-Jitsu, and it is famous for its variations. 

Influential Fighters of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

  • Shinya Aoki
  • Also known as "Master of Flying Submission", he is known as the greatest MMA submission fighter using BJJ. He was a great tournament fighter and defeated many opponents by his art with record of (44-9 win record). 

    Shinya Aoki

  • Helio Gracie
  • He was the one who fought with Kimura, and he invented the style. 

    Helio Gracie

  • Rickson Gracie
  • He was the third son of Helio. He was known as the best practitioner of the art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Some reports indicate that he won almost 400 fights without a loss. 

    Rickson Gracie

  • Royce Gracie
  • He has been credited for giving awareness of this art to the world. He worked very hard to showcase his family talent to the world. 

    Royce Gracie

  • BJ Penn
  • He was the one who achieved his black belt status in just three years. He was the first one to win the black belt from the non-Brazilian division.  


    One of the fastest-growing martial arts in the world is known as Jiu-Jitsu. There is no age limit, and students of all ages can learn this martial art. You can learn this martial art for plenty of reasons such as fitness, stress relief, self-defense, and fun.

    Sky Hoon. About
    Martial Art Fan
    He started his love on martial arts by watching MMA and Angela Lee. He then started this blog to learn more about the different martial arts.
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