History of Japanese Jiu-Jitsu

The Martial Art was developed in India more than 2000 years ago before Christ, by Buddhist monks. Because their religion and moral values did not allow the use of weapons, these monks were forced to develop empty hand system of self-defense to protect themselves against barbarian attacks, which was common at the time.

Since these monks possessed great scientific knowledge, they created a system of self-defense based on the laws of physics such as center of gravity, balance, weight shifting, momentum and friction as well as human body vital and weakest points. Their system spread through China and eventually made its way to Japan.

The Samurai clans of Japan adopted Jiu-Jitsu (meaning gentle art) s their own traditional style to defeat an opponent regardless if the situation was throwing, striking, or grappling. Along the years, with the intention of hiding Jiu-Jitsu from the westerners who were generally bigger and stronger, the Japanese split the techniques and developed martial arts with limited effectiveness such as Karate, Judo, Aikido, etc.

History of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Jiu-Jitsu finally made its way to Brazil in the early 1900’s, after Japanese Jiu-Jitsu champion Mitsuyo Maeda immigrated there. Because of his Jiu-Jitsu exploits, he had been awarded a government position by Prince Hirohito to oversee Japanese immigration to Brazil. His efforts were largely aided by Gastao Gracie, a Brazilian politician and scholar of Scottish descent. Maeda was so grateful that in return he decided to go against Japanese tradition, teaching real Jiu-Jitsu to a non-Japanese, Gastao’s oldest son, Carlos Gracie. This was about 1918.

Carlos taught Maeda’s techniques to his four brothers: Oswaldo, Gastao, Jorge and Helio and in 1925 they opened the first Gracie Jiu-Jitsu academy in Brazil. Carlos and his brothers, particularly Helio, change the original art by adapting the techniques of Japanese Jiu-Jitsu so that they depended mostly upon leverage, rather than strength and explosiveness. They experimented, modified and perfected simple techniques that would be effective regardless of stature. Consequently, they broke away from the traditional Japanese style and began the development of a more efficient and complete art.

As Gracie Jiu-Jitsu was passed on to later generations of the Gracie Clan, their martial art style became increasingly popular in Brazil giving rise to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. The Gracie style is now widely practiced throughout many parts of the world and is continuously evolving as a result.

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