What is BJJ

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) is a grappling-based martial art whose central theme is the skill of controlling a resisting opponent in ways that force him to submit. Due to the fact that control is generally easier on the ground than in a standing position, much of the technique of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) is centered round the skill of taking an opponent down to the ground and wrestling for dominant control positions from where the opponent can be rendered harmless.

To control and overcome greater size, strength and aggression with lesser size and strength is the keynote of the sport. This is done by utilizing superior leverage, grip and position upon your opponent. Students of the sport gain a deep understanding of the workings and limits of the human body.

This knowledge can be used to subdue and control an opponent with whatever level of severity the student chooses. The path to this knowledge is physically and mentally demanding. Students benefit from greatly increased physical fitness, problem-solving ability, self-knowledge of their body and mind and the many social benefits of working within a large group of like-minded fellow students as you learn and have fun together.

Many students first learn about jiu jitsu through the great popularity of mixed martial arts (MMA) competition, where Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu technique is very prominent. Indeed, the beginnings of the contemporary MMA competition were largely tied up with proving the combat-efficiency of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. The practice of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu as a sport, however, is strongly separated from MMA. Daily classes do not feature kicking or punching. The focus is on safe grappling technique that can be done on a daily basis with no more fear of injury than any other contact sport.

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Helio Gracie Kimura

Brief History Of Jiu Jitsu

In the last days of the 19th century, some Jiu-Jitsu masters emigrated from Japan to other continents, teaching the martial arts as well as taking part in fights and competitions. Mitsuyo Maeda was one such master. Maeda arrived in Brazil in 1915, and settled in Belem do Para, where he met a man named Gastao Gracie.

The father of eight children, among them five boys and three girls, Gastao became a Jiu-Jitsu enthusiast and brought his oldest son, Carlos, to learn from the Japanese master.

For a naturally frail fifteen-year old Carlos Gracie, Jiu-Jitsu became a method not simply for fighting, but for personal improvement. At nineteen, he moved to Rio de Janeiro with his family and began teaching jiu-jitsu from his home, under the watchful eye of his younger brother Helio, who was considered too ill and fragile to train the art. Helio began to adapt the art to better suit the smaller person, and was soon teaching his style, which later became known as Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. Later, Helio would become recognised as perhaps the main founding father of BJJ, competing against legends such as Hidehiko Kimura, and passing his knowledge to his growing family. His sons, Royce, Rickson and Royler had tremendous success in Vale Tudo (no holds barred fighting) tournaments, Royce winning the inaugural Ultimate Fighting Championships, proving that this style of Jiu-Jitsu when used against any other single martial art, is the most effective fighting form in existence.

To prove to the world that Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu was the most complete fighting art, the Gracies set up what is now known as the “Gracie Challenge” matches. The purpose of this was to show that a skilled Jiu Jitsu practitioner is more than capable of defeating a master of any other martial art, by closing the striking distance, and using grappling techniques to take the fight to the ground, where a kickboxer, kung-fu fighter, boxer or karate master would be akin to a fish on dry land. The Jiu-Jitsu practitioner, usually Royce, Rickson, Royler, Rorion or Rener Grace, would then proceed to attain a dominant position on the ground, strike to soften the opponent, and lock on a punishing submission hold, for example a choke or an arm-lock, forcing the opponent to submit. If the other martial arts practitioner was not convinced he was beaten fairly, the Gracie in question would simply beat him again, fairly and soundly, until both were convinced of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu’s dominance in an all out fight with no rules. Many examples of Gracie challenge matches are available on the internet today, and the Gracie’s still maintain an open challenge for anyone of another discipline to test their art against Jiu-Jitsu. As Rorion Gracie himself once said, “Jiu-Jitsu is the only self-defence system that effectively addresses ground grappling, the most important, yet the most neglected aspect of any real fight”.

Wanting to take the Gracie Challenge to a world-wide audience, Rorion came up with the idea to televise a huge martial arts tournament named “The Ultimate Fighting Championship”, which has now achieved huge global popularity under the direction of Dana White and Frank and Lorenzo Fertita, and has become more commonly known as the UFC. The idea behind the tournament was to see which martial art was the most effective in a real no holds barred, one on one fight. Sumo wrestlers, hapkido instructors, ninjitsu black belts, professional boxers, street fighters, even NFL superstars all came to test themselves in what was then the greatest fighting arena in existence. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu’s representative was Royce Gracie, one of the slightest brothers in the family, weighing about 175lbs. The champion of the family, Rickson, had been dominating tournaments in Japan, and the Gracie’s decided to use Royce, as a real example that a small, frail man, with good technique, could defeat even the biggest wrestler or sumo fighter. Royce went on to dominate the competition for a further 4 UFC’s and became known as one of the fathers of MMA (mixed martial arts), encouraging everyone to begin training Jiu-Jitsu.

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