Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) is a grappling martial art and combat sport that teaches a smaller person how to defend them self against a larger adversary by using leverage and proper technique—most notably by applying joint-locks and chokeholds to defeat the other person.. The Gracie family, the founders of BJJ, modified Kodokan Judo and traditional Japanese jujutsu to create the art. It contains stand-up maneuvers, but it is most famous for its devastating ground-fighting techniques. Gaining superior positioning—so one can apply the style’s numerous chokes, holds, locks and joint manipulations on an opponent—is the key in BJJ.
In 1914, Mitsuyo Maeda was given the opportunity to travel to Brazil as part of a large Japanese immigration colony. In Brazil, in the northern state of Para, he befriended Gastão Gracie, an influential businessman, who helped Maeda get established in Brazil. To show his gratitude, Maeda offered to teach traditional Japanese Jiu-Jitsu to Gastão’s oldest son, Carlos Gracie. Carlos learned for a few years and eventually passed his knowledge to his brothers.
At age fourteen, Helio Gracie, the youngest of the brothers moved in with his older brothers who lived and taught Jiu-Jitsu in a house in Botafogo, a borough of Rio de Janeiro. Following doctor’s recommendations, Helio would spend the next few years limited to only watching his brothers teach Jiu-Jitsu as he was naturally frail.
One day, when Helio Gracie was 16 years old, a student showed up for class when Carlos was not around. Helio, who had memorized all the techniques from watching his brothers teach, offered to start the class. When the class was over, Carlos showed up and apologized for his delay. The student asked for Helio to continue being his instructor, Helio Gracie then gradually developed Gracie Jiu Jitsu as an adaptation from Judo as he was unable to do many Judo moves.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for David Chan
I was introduced to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) through the popularization of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). I remembered I was impressed in how effectively Royce Gracie was able to defeat competitors on the Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC).
With several classes and a seminar in BJJ in the past I had never fully became a serious student of the art until I joined the military. After going through military combatives courses I realized how effective the Gracie art was, especially if the military has incorporated Gracie Jiu-Jitsu as the foundation to the United States’ Modern Army Combatives Program.
Currently I am a Gracie University student and study what should be respectfully called Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. With a very systematic and organized approach to grappling, it has allowed me to excel in military combatives and further my civilian martial arts studies. I currently plan to open my own Gracie Garage in my community soon.