This is for some who might be new to the discipline of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. To avoid situations and questions like “this seems awesome and interesting but what the heck is Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?” Here is a brief history lesson in the art of a thousand handles.
It is said that Jiu Jitsu originated in India and was developed by Buddhist Monks. That’s right, Buddhist Monks. That ‘s probably why Jiu Jitsu is dubbed the “gentle” art. However despite its nickname, Jiu Jitsu soon became one of the most effective martial arts practiced by many martial artists around the world. Jiu Jitsu relies on leverage, holds, joint manipulation, chokes and muscle compression to eliminate a threat (obviously in the act of self defense). With the teaching of Buddhism spreading across Asia, Jiu Jitsu followed with it. Finally reaching Japan where it gained its popularity with a man named Esai Maeda Koma or “Conde Koma”.
Maeda was a Jiu Jitsu and Judo master. Typically the art was practiced and displayed through demonstrations. However, Maeda favored the prize matches much more. He went on traveling to serval different countries and finally landed himself in Brazil. There he met a Brazilian politician, Gastao Gracie, who helped in the favor of developing Japanese villages in Brazil. Due to Maeda’s popularity, Gastao was already aware of Maeda’s success. Sharing a common interest in martial arts, Maeda returned the favor by teaching Gastao’s oldest son, Carlos Gracie, traditional Japanese Jiu Jitsu who then taught his brother Helio. Thus, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu was born.
The Gracie’s innovated the art from throws, takedowns, holds and submissions making it more practical for the “smaller” person. Carlos opened the first Brazilian Jiu Jitsu academy in Rio De Janeiro where he taught students and fought challengers. Similar to Maeda, Carlos and Helio would challenge opponents from all styles and from all shape, sizes and strength. Proving that Brazilian Jiu Jitsu was one of the most effective martial arts, they would publicly post ads and signs requesting open challenges in their schools to even garages. No one would expect what looked to be your average joe, small and skinny guys, tossing around and defeating some of the toughest, biggest and strongest men around. It was then Brazilian Jiu Jitsu became the thing everyone was talking about.
With Carlos and Helio both heavily dedicated to their art and what was considered Gracie Jiu Jitsu, it was inevitable for them to pass the tradition down to their kids. From Brazil, BJJ began to quickly spread to America with icons like Royce, Renzo, Carlos Jr, Rickson and so many more opening up shop across the U.S. Each brother making a name for themselves through the same principles of their father. Rickson and Royce went through similar paths as their father (Heilo) and Tio Carlos (uncle), by accepting challenges both in and outside a sanction events. Little did we know this would help spark one of the most famous sports not only across the US, but around the world.
Today, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has become a widely practiced martial arts across the globe especially with the high popularity of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). It gave ground fighting a new face. Picture a snake and a prey or better yet a anaconda and a crocodile. They’re able to squeeze bigger prey and objects than themselves. Very much like BJJ. You need to be able to take the fight where you want it and once you have it, capitalize on it in every way. You need to stay patient but hungry and know when the opportunity presents itself for action. You need to be able to move with another person’s energy while staying in control and dominant. It has now become an essential art you need to have in your arsenal for the sport of MMA or even self defense/street fight.
Even for recreational, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is an art you can practice for years. Focusing on movement, control and technique BJJ is a discipline you can be a part of for a while. Down the road in my life, I like to think of it as Yoga but with a partner. Yes, although there’s more contact and your using your body against someone else’s. You start to practice more techniques, functional movement and sometimes just to keep the body loose. As you get better and as you get older, you want to “play” slower and for the lack of a better word, “friendlier”. Like my Sifu said, it’s about longevity. Look at Helio, he was still rolling even at 90 years old! That goes to show you like any other sport, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is not only physical. There’s a special holistic connection it has with a person. If you’re talking about longevity and health, you want to make sure you are mentally and nutritionally satisfied. What you put into your body will effect your bodies output. Your body is a canvas and you want to use the riches and most vibrant paint to create your style which is your game. You want to be able to do this over and over again.
No matter the size, strength, age, gender or any of that, BJJ is that something you can take with you. You can gain something physically, mentally and even emotionally. For me it was all of it. I went in to fight, filled with that young gun attitude. Looking at who I am today, I’m still young just less of a gun and more of a handler. I’m still trying to discover more about myself through Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Each roll is different, win or lose I take something from it, learn from it and then grow with it. If you are looking to start a journey in BJJ, take your time and don’t rush. Always remember the principles behind BJJ and when things don’t pan out the way you wanted, Keep Calm and Roll On.