Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu History

Approximately 4,000 years ago, a fighting style emerged which did not involve violence or the use of weapons. This style, known as Jiu-Jitsu, is considered to be the oldest martial art and the most perfect form of self-defense. The origin of Jiu-Jitsu can be traced back to India and the Buddhist Monks. It’s development was of a scientific nature, in which an individual relied on balance, pressure points, leverage and the center of gravity to execute specific movements in order to defend themselves with minimal effort. During the forthcoming years, Jiu-Jitsu spread throughout Asia and eventually into Japan where it continued to be nurtured. It is from Jiu-Jitsu that many modern martial arts have been born, including what we know today as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

In 1914, Esai Maeda, a Japanese politician, arrived in Brazil to establish a Japanese immigration colony. Esai Maeda, known as Count Koma, was a world renowned Jiu-Jitsu Master. In order to accomplish his mission, Count Koma befriended, Gastao Gracie, a successful businessman who had strong political ties. Gastao assisted Count Koma in obtaining his objectives, and in return of this kindness, Count Koma taught Jiu-Jitsu to Carlos, Gastao’s oldest son. Carlos studied Jiu-Jitsu for several years and eventually taught the art to his younger brothers, Oswaldo, Gastao, and George.

At 18 years old, Gastao began teaching Jiu-Jitsu in Rio de Janeiro with his brothers. Helio Gracie, Carlos younger brother, was limited in his ability to participate because of health conditions which weakened his already frail body.

However, Helio observed classes and began to adapt techniques of his own which involved minimal strength. Over time Helio was able to help improve on traditional jiu-jitsu applications to accommodate individuals of a smaller, weaker stature. By focusing on superior technique, he was able to reduce a fighters reliance on strength. This began the tradition of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu which has evolved continuously throughout the years. In the early 1990’s, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu was first introduced to the American public through the Ultimate Fighting Championships where Royce Gracie, Helio Gracie’s son, defeated numerous opponents with his superb application of the Gracie style.

Helio Gracie modified Jiu-do
into Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu