What is Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?
Well, if you love the fighting game and martial arts you probably know when MMA fighters hit the ground, they often need to use Brazilian jiujitsu – an entire Brazilian martial arts system dedicated to fighting on the ground and finishing your opponent with no strikes.
If you haven’t heard of it, this guide will make you know when someone is trying to do a double leg takedown or goes for a rear-naked choke.
Before we go any further, a quick caveat!
Brazilian jiujitsu is not the same as Japanese jiujitsu (also known as jujutsu).
The former is what most MMA fighters train, the latter is what samurais used to fight each other whenever they lose their sword.
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu History & Origins
Nobody knows when traditional jiujitsu started.
Several people speculate samurais developed this martial art system to violently throw each other and kill rival soldiers (being thrown with heavy armor on can be potentially lethal).
Other people believe jiujitsu started when traveling Buddhist monks started to defend themselves from criminals they faced on the road between towns.
It was probably a combination of both factors – eventually, jiujitsu was well-known all over Japan. It took thousands of years to develop, and one man to change it forever: Jigoro Kano.
Jigoro Kano: Birth Of Judo
By the time Jigoro Kano was born, jiujitsu was seen as a fringe activity. Something criminals and reactionaries trained for no good reason at all. Jigoro Kano disregarded such a terrible (and popular) notion. He saw jiujitsu not as what it was, but as what it could be.
With enough effort and intelligence, Mr. Kano stripped jiujitsu from its samurai roots (removed armor-dependent attacks, useless movements, and overall needless bits and pieces) and a new martial art was born: Judo.
Jigoro Kano took Japan by storm. He trained several high-level jiu-jitsu practitioners and turned them into judokas. He arranged several high-profile martial arts bouts between judo practitioners and jiujitsu practitioners – the victory was always taken by the judoka.
Eventually, Jigoro Kano started the Kodokan, also known as the judo institute. His next step was to take the world by storm. In his effort to do so, he sent several judokas to travel all over the world, including Mitsuyo Maeda.
Cultural Clash: Gracie Family And Mitsuyo Maeda
By the time Mitsuyo Maeda settled in Brazil, he was already in the Gracie family’s good graces – The Gracie family had political influences that were used to help Maeda settle in Brazil legally. Maeda trained the older Gracies in exchange as a political favor.
Carlos and Helio Gracie developed what most of us know as Brazilian jiujitsu – they did the same thing Jigoro Kano did: stripped it away from what they deemed useless, and went to several martial arts’ dojos to prove their martial art was better than any other. And most of the time, the BJJ practitioner won.
For the next couple of decades, BJJ slowly took over Brazil. But just like how Japan wasn’t enough for Jigoro Kano, Brazil wasn’t enough for Helio Gracie.
Helio’s son, Rorion Gracie, was then sent to America.
USA, UFC – And The World
Rorion traveled to America in the late 70s. He slowly built his academy there and tried to expand BJJ as his father did in Brazil – but couldn’t manage to do it in a completely different environment. In the 70s and 80s, Karate was the name of the game for every martial art enthusiast, and nobody could convince an American to try any other style.
It took nearly 20 years to come up with the right strategy to show the world what BJJ was about. They took Vale-Tudo (“Everything goes” in Portuguese; a famous sport in both Brazil and Japan by the early 90s), gave it an American feel and created the UFC. Several martial arts practitioners joined the one-night tournament; Royce Gracie, Helio Gracie’s grandson, included.
By the time the first UFC was over, Royce Gracie was crowned champion after defeating a golden gloves boxer, a Sabat champion, a shooto expert, and several other martial artists that stood in his way.
A couple of decades later, UFC was known worldwide. And so was Brazilian jiujitsu.
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Belts
Brazilian jiujitsu has 8 belts, each one of them represents a different level of expertise in this martial art. It will usually take around two years to reach the next level of belt and it can take from 10 to 15 years to reach the black belt.
A complete beginner. Most people in the world are white belts. More often than not, BJJ academies have separate classes for white belts. They need to cover self-defense and groundwork basics before they move on.
Someone who knows the very basics. Can defend himself from an untrained aggressor. Unfortunately, this belt has the biggest dropout rate.
A middle-level player in the BJJ game. Most purple belts have broken the blue belt ceiling and will probably train for a huge portion of their life.
Seasoned players. They have expert-level techniques but still need to polish a few things in their arsenal. Knows jiujitsu by heart.
A black belt is an interesting position. You are now in the top 10% of the world – perhaps even 1%. But by the time you reach into this place, you’ll probably realize you don’t know a lot about jiujitsu.
Black & Red/White & Red/Red Belt
These three belts are reserved for those who have invested a lifetime’s worth into jiujitsu. Not only in training but teaching and making BJJ travel all over the world. There are only a handful of red belts alive.
Benefits Of BJJ
Pick on Somebody Your Wrong Size
It’s for everyone, especially smaller sized people. Brazilian jiujitsu will teach you how to use leverage to deal with larger opponents.
Great Self-Defense Skills
There are classes specifically designed for everyone including women, law enforcement and children. This equips everyone with the ability to defend themselves better.
Like all active sports, BJJ gives you a hell of a workout. Not only that, it trains every muscle in your body and improves your flexibility and mobility.
More Than A Sport
You’ll form a great sense of friendship and comradely in most Brazilian jiujitsu schools.
Easy to Transit To MMA
BJJ is considered a fundamental skill in MMA. It’s the best choice if you want to take up MMA later on because BJJ will give you a solid foundation.
Why BJJ Is Amazing
It’s The Real Deal
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is considered one, if not the most potent fighting systems there is. Every technique you learn can help you win fights without throwing a punch or a kick.
From Mat to Life
After training on the mat and going through several sparring sessions, you will develop more self-confidence, and this will mold you into a tougher and stronger character in life.
Joint Problems? No problem.
People with joint complications are able to take up BJJ as BJJ techniques do not have any impact on the joints.
Anyone Can Take Up BJJ
From kids to adults, there are training and classes specially designed for each group of people. This makes BJJ easy for all to pick up.
Now you know how long it took for BJJ to make its way around the world. The endless travel, the incredible effort, and the amazing results. You also know that no matter who you are, you can learn Brazilian jiujitsu.
So, if you are considering training BJJ I will urge you to at least try one BJJ class. You can potentially fall in love with it.
Till next time, Oss!