Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu or BJJ is a martial art and combat sport that focuses on grappling and especially ground fighting. It is a derivative of early 20th century Kodokan Judo which was itself then a recently-developed system (founded in 1882), based on multiple schools of Japanese Jiu-Jitsu later modified and further developed by the famous Gracie Family of Brazil.
BJJ promotes the principle that a smaller, weaker person can successfully defend themselves against a bigger, stronger assailant using leverage and proper technique; most notably, by applying joint-locks and choke-holds to defeat the other person.
Jiu-Jitsu in Brazil
Gracie Jiu-Jitsu originated in the 1910's when Japanese JuJitsu (also spelled "JuJutsu") and Judo master Mitsuyo "Count Koma" Maeda visited Brazil. He befriended Gastão Gracie, an influential Brazilian businessman of Scottish decent. Maeda agreed to teach traditional Japanese JuJitsu to Gastão's eldest son, Carlos Gracie. Maeda soon left Brazil, but the Gracie brothers continued practicing Jiu-Jitsu.
The Development of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
Although all of Gastão's sons trained JuJitsu, Helio Gracie made the refinements that created the most efficient martial arts system in the world. Helio noticed that many of the traditional techniques were not practical for his 135-pound physique, so he began experimenting to find ways for a smaller person execute the moves. Through a lifetime of trial and error, Helio Gracie modified the techniques Maeda had taught Carlos, invented new ones and developed a system of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu that would enable him to be defeat larger, stronger opponents and forever change the landscape of the traditional martial arts world.
Helio knew that merely practicing moves against a willing partner would not ensure the effectiveness of his style. As such, he tested his techniques in numerous no-holds-barred, Vale Tudo and challenge matches, throwing out or modifying the techniques he found to require too much athleticism or strength. Helio gained notoriety in Brazil as the country's top fighter, despite his small physical stature. Helio Gracie continued to teach his art in Brazil and around the world up until the age of 95. Carlos and Helio had many sons who carried on the techniques and traditions of Jiu-Jitsu, but Helio's son Royce (pronounced "Hoyce") ushered in a revolution in the world of traditional martial arts in the early 1990's, competing in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).
Ultimate Fighting Championship
The early UFC's asked a single question: "which style of martial arts is most effective in a real fight?" The events were no-holds-barred ("NHB"), with no weight classes and no time limits. Fighters were allowed to use any strikes, take downs or submissions they pleased, and the only way to win a fight was by knockout or submission. The 175-pound Royce Gracie was able to quickly defeat much heavier and stronger fighters from all styles of martial arts, such as Judo, Tae Kwon Do, Karate, Wrestling, Boxing, Shootfighting and Kung Fu. Royce's success was convincing proof of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu's superiority over other martial arts and quickly made an impact to the way people practice martial arts.
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Today
Today, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is one of the fastest and most popular methods of self defense. With the mass movement and propagation of Mixed Martial Arts, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has gain much notoriety and is practice throughout the world. It is considered by many the most efficient form of self defense and has been adopted by military and law enforcement agencies alike.