The Rise of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) is a martial art that has grown in popularity around the world in recent years. Its roots can be traced back to the late 19th century in Brazil, where it was developed by the Gracie family. This article aims to provide a comprehensive and detailed history of the origins and development of BJJ, from its earliest beginnings to its current status as a global phenomenon.

The Early Days: BJJ's Japanese Roots

Mitsuyo Maeda
 Mitsuyo Maeda

The roots of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu can be traced back to Japan, where Judo was developed in the late 19th century. In the early 20th century, a young Japanese man named Mitsuyo Maeda, also known as Count Koma, traveled to Brazil to spread his knowledge of Judo. While in Brazil, Maeda met Carlos Gracie, who became his student and later his business partner. Gracie continued to study Judo under Maeda and eventually developed his own unique style of martial art, which came to be known as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

The Philosophies of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is not just a martial art, but also a way of life. The philosophy behind BJJ is centered on the idea that a smaller, weaker individual can defend themselves against a larger, stronger opponent using technique and leverage. The martial art emphasizes the importance of technique over brute strength, and it teaches practitioners to think strategically and to be patient and persistent in the face of adversity.

The Birth of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu

Helio GracieThe Gracie family, who were already involved in various martial arts, quickly embraced the teachings of Maeda and began to develop their own style of Jiu-Jitsu. This new style, which would come to be known as Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, emphasized the use of leverage and technique over raw strength and power. This was a departure from traditional Japanese Jiu-Jitsu, which placed a greater emphasis on grappling and submission techniques.

The Rise of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu in Brazil

In the years that followed, the Gracie family continued to develop and refine their style of Jiu-Jitsu. They also began to challenge other martial artists to prove the effectiveness of their techniques. These challenges, known as vale tudo (anything goes) fights, helped to establish Gracie Jiu-Jitsu as a dominant force in Brazilian martial arts.

Over the past few decades, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has experienced a massive surge in popularity. This can be attributed in part to the success of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioners in MMA competitions, as well as to the growing interest in combat sports as a form of fitness and self-defense. The rise of social media has also played a role in popularizing BJJ, as it has allowed for greater exposure and access to the sport.

The Global Expansion of BJJ

In the late 20th century, the Gracie family began to expand their reach beyond Brazil. They opened schools in various countries, including the United States, and began to promote BJJ through competitions and demonstrations. This helped to spread awareness of BJJ and its techniques, and the sport quickly gained a following around the world.

The Modern Era of BJJ

2 women rolling

Today, BJJ is a thriving global sport with millions of practitioners around the world. It is widely recognized as one of the most effective martial arts for self-defense and grappling, and is a staple of mixed martial arts (MMA) competitions. The Gracie family continues to be an integral part of the BJJ community, and their legacy lives on in the sport they helped to create.


Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a martial art with a rich and fascinating history, as well as a vibrant and diverse community of practitioners. The philosophy and techniques of BJJ have helped to shape the sport into a unique and dynamic art form, and its impact can be seen in culture, society, and sport around the world. As the popularity of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu continues to grow, we can expect to see even greater innovation and evolution within this exciting and dynamic martial art.

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