Geo Omori opened the first jiu-jitsu / judo school in Brazil in 1909. He would go on to teach a number of individuals including Luiz França. Later, Mitsuyo Maeda was one of five of the Kodokan's top groundwork (newaza) experts that judo's founder Kano Jigoro sent overseas to demonstrate and spread his art to the world. Maeda had trained first in sumo as a teenager, and after the interest generated by stories about the success of Kodokan Judo at contests with other jujutsu schools that were occurring at the time, became a student of Jigoro Kano. Maeda left Japan in 1904 and visited a number of countries giving "jiu-do" demonstrations and accepting challenges from wrestlers, boxers, savate fighters and various other martial artists before eventually arriving in Brazil on November 14, 1914.
Gastão Gracie was a business partner of the American Circus in Belém. In 1916, Italian Argentine circus Queirolo Brothers staged shows there and presented Maeda. In 1917 Carlos Gracie, the eldest son of Gastão Gracie, watched a demonstration by Maeda at the Da Paz Theatre and decided to learn judo. Maeda accepted Carlos as a student and Carlos learned for a few years, eventually passing his knowledge on to his brothers. Sibling Hélio Gracie gradually further developed Gracie Jiu Jitsu as a softer, pragmatic adaptation from judo that focused on ground fighting, as he was unable to perform many judo moves that require direct opposition to an opponent's strength.
Although the Gracie family is typically synonymous with BJJ, another prominent lineage started from Maeda via another Brazilian disciple, Luiz França. This lineage had been represented particularly by Oswaldo Fadda. Fadda and his students were famous for influential use of footlocks and the lineage still survives through Fadda's links with today's teams such as Nova União and Grappling Fight Team.
"Jiu-Jitsu" is an older romanization that was the original spelling of the art in the West, and it is still in common use, whereas the modern Hepburn romanization is "jūjutsu".
When Maeda left Japan, judo was still often referred to as "Kano jiu-jitsu", or, even more generically, simply as jiu-jitsu. Higashi, the co-author of "Kano Jiu-Jitsu" wrote in the foreword:
Some confusion has arisen over the employment of the term 'jiudo'. To make the matter clear I will state that jiudo is the term selected by Professor Kano as describing his system more accurately than jiu-jitsu does. Professor Kano is one of the leading educators of Japan, and it is natural that he should cast about for the technical word that would most accurately describe his system. But the Japanese people generally still cling to the more popular nomenclature and call it jiu-jitsu.
Outside Japan, however, this distinction was noted even less. Thus, when Maeda and Satake arrived in Brazil in 1914, every newspaper announced their art as being "jiu-jitsu" despite both men being Kodokan judoka.
It was not until 1925 that the Japanese government itself officially mandated that the correct name for the martial art taught in the Japanese public schools should be "judo" rather than "jujutsu". In Brazil, the art is still called "jiu-jitsu". When the Gracies went to the United States to spread their art, they used the terms "Brazilian jiu-jitsu" and "Gracie Jiu-Jitsu" to differentiate from the already present styles using similar-sounding names. In a 1994 interview with Yoshinori Nishi, Hélio Gracie said, that he didn´t even know the word of judo itself, until the sport came in the 1950s to Brazil, because he heard that Mitsuyo Maeda called his style "jiu-jitsu".
The art is sometimes referred to as Gracie Jiu-Jitsu (GJJ), this name was trademarked by Rorion Gracie, but after a legal dispute with his cousin Carley Gracie, his trademark to the name was voided. Other members of the Gracie family often call their style by personalized names, such as Charles Gracie Jiu-Jitsu or Renzo Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, and similarly, the Machado family call their style Machado Jiu-Jitsu (MJJ). While each style and its instructors have their own unique aspects, they are all basic variations of Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Today there are four major branches of BJJ from Brazil: Gracie Humaita, Gracie Barra, Carlson Gracie Jiu-Jitsu and Alliance Jiu Jitsu. Each branch can trace its roots back to Mitsuyo Maeda via the Gracie family or Oswaldo Fadda.
Since judo was introduced to Brazil there have been changes in the rules of sport judo – some to enhance it as a spectator sport, and some for improved safety. Several of these rule changes have greatly de-emphasised the groundwork aspects of judo, and others have reduced the range of joint locks allowed and when they can be applied. Brazilian jiu-jitsu did not follow these changes to judo rules (and there is no evidence that some of the rules were ever used, such as the win by pin/osaekomi or by throw), and this divergence has given it a distinct identity as a grappling art, while still being recognizably related to judo. Other factors that have contributed towards the stylistic divergence of BJJ from sport judo include the Gracies' desire to create a national martial art, the influence of Brazilian culture, and the Gracies' emphasis on full-contact fighting. Spinal locks and cervical locks are completely forbidden from Gi Jiu Jitsu, amateur MMA, multiple forms of no Gi Jiu Jitsu, Judo, and other martial arts, due to potential to cause serious bodily injury.
BJJ permits all the techniques that judo allows to take the fight to the ground. These include judo's scoring throws as well as judo's non-scoring techniques that it refers to as "skillful takedowns" (such as the flying armbar). BJJ also allows any and all takedowns from wrestling, sambo, or any other grappling arts including direct attempts to take down by touching the legs. BJJ also differs from judo in that it also allows a competitor to drag his opponent to the ground, and even to drop to the ground himself provided he has first taken a grip. Early Kodokan judo was similarly open in its rules (even permitting an athlete to simply sit on the mat at the beginning of a match), but has since become increasingly restrictive in comparison. BJJ has also become more sports oriented and has eliminated techniques such as picking up an opponent from the guard and throwing him.
Jiu-Jitsu came to international prominence in the martial arts community in the early 1990s, when Brazilian jiu-jitsu expert Royce Gracie won the first, second and fourth Ultimate Fighting Championships, which at the time were single elimination martial arts tournaments. Royce fought against often much larger opponents who were practicing other styles, including boxing, shoot-fighting, muay thai, karate, wrestling, and taekwondo. It has since become a staple art for many MMA fighters and is largely credited for bringing widespread attention to the importance of ground fighting. Sport BJJ tournaments continue to grow in popularity worldwide and have given rise to no-gi submission grappling tournaments, such as the ADCC Submission Wrestling World Championship.
Upholding the premise that most of the advantage of a larger, stronger opponent comes from superior reach and more powerful strikes, both of which are mitigated when grappling on the ground, Brazilian jiu-jitsu emphasizes getting an opponent to the ground in order to use ground fighting techniques and submission holds involving joint-locks and chokeholds. A more precise way of describing this would be to say that on the ground, physical strength can be offset or enhanced by an experienced grappler who knows how to maximize force using mechanical advantage instead of pure physical strength.
BJJ permits a wide variety of techniques to take the fight to the ground after taking a grip. While other combat sports, such as Judo and Wrestling almost always use a takedown to bring an opponent to the ground, in BJJ one option is to "pull guard." This entails obtaining some grip on the opponent and then bringing the fight or match onto the mat by sitting straight down or by jumping and wrapping the legs around the opponent.
Once the opponent is on the ground, a number of maneuvers (and counter-maneuvers) are available to manipulate the opponent into a suitable position for the application of a submission technique. Achieving a dominant position on the ground is one of the hallmarks of the BJJ style, and includes effective use of the guard (a signature position of BJJ) position to defend oneself from bottom (using both submissions and sweeps, with sweeps leading to the possibility of dominant position or an opportunity to pass the guard), and passing the guard to dominate from top position with side control, mount, and back mount positions. This system of maneuvering and manipulation can be likened to a form of kinetic chess when used by two experienced practitioners. A submission hold is the equivalent of checkmate in the sport, reflecting a disadvantage which would be extremely difficult to overcome in a fight (such as a dislocated joint or unconsciousness).
Renzo Gracie wrote in his book Mastering Jiu-jitsu:
'The classical jujutsu of old Japan appeared to have no common strategy to guide a combatant over the course of a fight. Indeed, this was one of Kano's most fundamental and perceptive criticisms of the classical program.' Maeda not only taught the art of judo to Carlos Gracie, but also taught a particular philosophy about the nature of combat developed by Kano, and further refined by Maeda based on his worldwide travels competing against fighters skilled in a wide variety of martial arts.
The book details Maeda's theory as arguing that physical combat could be broken down into distinct phases, such as the striking phase, the grappling phase, the ground phase, etc. Thus, it was a smart fighter's task to keep the fight located in the phase of combat best suited to his own strengths. Renzo Gracie stated that this was a fundamental influence on the Gracie approach to combat, these strategies were further developed over time by the Gracies and others, and became prominent in contemporary MMA.
BJJ is most strongly differentiated from other martial arts by its greater emphasis on ground fighting. Commonly, striking-based styles spend almost no time on groundwork. Even other grappling martial arts tend to spend much more time on the standing phase. It is helpful to contrast its rules with kodokan judo's greater emphasis on throws, due to both its radically different point-scoring system, and the absence of most of the judo rules that cause the competitors to have to recommence in a standing position. This has led to greater time dedicated to training on the ground similar to that of Kosen Judo, resulting in enhancement and new research of groundwork techniques by BJJ practitioners.
Along with BJJ's strengths on the ground comes its relative underemphasis of standing techniques, such as striking. To remedy this comparative lack, there is an emphasis on take-downs and cross-training between BJJ, wrestling, judo, and sambo, as well as striking based arts such as boxing, karate, taekwondo, Muay Thai, and kickboxing.
Sport BJJ focus on submissions without the use of strikes while training allows practitioners to practice at full speed and with full power, resembling the effort used in a real competition. Training methods include technique drills in which techniques are practiced against a non-resisting partner; isolation sparring, commonly referred to as positional drilling, where only a certain technique or sets of techniques are used, and full sparring in which each opponent tries to submit their opponent using any legal technique. Physical conditioning is also an important part of training at many clubs. The Gracie family focuses on real world applications for BJJ. While other businesses and companies tend to focus on the sporting aspect of BJJ, the Gracie's maintain a strict way of training that is primarily self-defense. They will often run drills where one person is placed in the center of a circle of other students and they will go for a grab or some other way that an aggressor may attack and the student and they must defend themselves in the way that they were taught. The student will often be unable to see the aggressor to simulate an attack that they weren't expecting.
During the ground phase of combat, the BJJ practitioner strives to take a dominant or controlling position from which to apply submissions. These positions provide different options.
In side control, the practitioner pins his opponent to the ground from the side of his body. The dominant grappler lies across the opponent with weight applied to the opponent's chest. The opponent may be further controlled by pressure on either side of the shoulders and hips from the practitioner's elbows, shoulders, and knees. A wide variety of submissions are initiated from side control. It is also referred to as the side mount. Additionally, the typical side mount increases opportunity for the dominant grappler to advance to a more dominant and less used type of side control known as the mounted crucifix position. In this position, the dominant grappler has his body at the very top of the opponent's torso, one arm controlled between both of the top grappler's arms, and the other arm trapped between the legs. This position is most used in MMA as it allows the dominant fighter to strike whilst taking away their opponents defence. Submission options are limited however and so this position is rarely used in BJJ competition. Variants of the side control include Twister Side Control (popularized by Eddie Bravo), Brazilian Crossbody, Kesa Gatame, "Wrestler Pin" and knee mount.
In the mount position, the practitioner sits astride the opponent's chest, controlling the opponent with his bodyweight and hips. In the strongest form of this position, the practitioner works his knees into the opponent's arm pits to reduce arm movements and ability to move or counter the submission attempts. Full Mount can be used to apply armlocks or chokes.
When using the back mount (often known in Brazilian jiu-jitsu as the back grab or attacking the back), the practitioner attaches to the back of the opponent by wrapping his legs around and hooking the opponent's thighs with his heels or locking in a body triangle by crossing one shin across the waist like a belt then placing the back of the opposing knee over the instep as if finishing a triangle choke. Simultaneously, the upper body is controlled by wrapping the arms around the chest or neck of the opponent. This position is often used to apply chokeholds, and counters much of the benefit an opponent may have from greater size or strength.
In the Guard, the practitioner is on his back controlling an opponent with his legs. The practitioner pushes and pulls with the legs or feet to upset the balance and limit the movements of his opponent. This position comes into play often when an opponent manages to place the practitioner upon his back and the practitioner seeks the best position possible to launch counter-attacks. This is a very versatile position from which the BJJ practitioner can attempt to sweep (reverse) the opponent, get back to the feet, or apply a variety of joint locks as well as various chokes.
The three main types of guard are Closed Guard, Half Guard, and Open Guard.
In closed guard, the bottom grappler has his legs around the opponent's trunk, and ankles closed together to provide control and a barrier to escaping the position. The closed guard is a very powerful guard seen often in MMA style tournaments because of amount of control it gives the bottom fighter and lack of necessity for grips to control top opponent and block his strikes. This guard allow many setups for submissions such as jointlocks and chokes as well as great opportunities for reversing the opponent into the very dominant fully mounted position.
In the open guard, the legs are not hooked together and the bottom grappler uses his legs or feet to push or pull in a more dynamic fashion. There are many variations of open guard with distinct names and positioning including the Butterfly Guard, De La Riva Guard, X-Guard, Spider Guard, Lapel Guard, and even the newly emerging Worm Guard made popular by Keenan Cornelius. Butterfly guard is when the bottom grappler brings his legs up and feet together against the inner thighs of top opponent. The name is derived from the resulting butterfly wing shape. Butterfly guard increases both space to maneuver and the ability counter the opponent with the shins or arches of the feet against the competitor's inner thighs.
In the half guard, one of the top grappler's legs is controlled by the bottom grappler's legs, blocking the top opponent from achieving the side control or full mount positions. There is also a variant of Half-Guard called 50/50 Guard, which consist of each opponent usually in sitting positions with one of their legs hooking the same leg of their opponent in a mirrored fashion. This position is called 50/50, because neither opponent has a distinct advantage with both sides have the same possibilities of sweeps and attacks.
The majority of submission holds can be grouped into two broad categories: joint locks and chokes. Joint locks typically involve isolating an opponent's limb and creating a lever with the body position which will force the joint to move past its normal range of motion. Pressure is increased in a controlled manner and released if the opponent cannot escape the hold and signals defeat by submitting. Opponents can indicate submission verbally or they can "tap out" by tapping the opponent or the mat. (Tapping one's own body is dangerous because the opponent may not be able to tell if his or her opponent is tapping.) A choke hold, by disrupting the blood supply to the brain, can cause unconsciousness if the opponent does not submit soon enough.
A less common type of submission hold is a compression lock, where the muscle of an opponent is compressed against a hard, large bone (commonly the shin or wrist), causing significant pain to the opponent. These types of locks are not usually allowed in competition due to the high risk of tearing muscle tissue. This type of lock often also hyper-extends the joint in the opposite direction, pulling it apart.
While many joint locks are permitted, most competitions ban or restrict some or all joint locks involving the knees, ankles, and spine. The reason for this is that the angles of manipulation required to cause pain are nearly the same as those that would cause serious injury. Joint locks that require a twisting motion of the knee (called twisting knee locks or twisting knee bars, or techniques such as heel hooks, and toe holds) are usually banned in competitions because successfully completing the move nearly always results in permanent damage that requires surgery. Similarly, joint manipulations of the spine are typically barred due to the inherent danger of crushing or mis-aligning cervical vertebrae. Leglocks are allowed in varying degrees depending on skill level, with the most prominent BJJ tournaments typically allowing only the straight ankle lock and muscle stretching submissions such as the banana split at white through purple belt, with the kneebar, toehold, and calf slicer submissions being permitted at brown and black belt. Most competitions do not allow heel hooks, which are considered to be exceptionally dangerous to competitors.
However, most joint locks involving the wrist, elbow, shoulder or ankle are permitted as there is a great deal more flexibility in those joints and those locks are safe to use under tournament conditions. Joint locks include Armbars, Kimuras, Americanas, straight-arm lock, Omoplata, and other shoulder locks. Also, some fighters practice moves whose sole purpose is to inflict pain upon their opponent, in the hope that they will tap out. This includes driving knuckles into pressure points, holding their opponent's head in order to tire out the neck (called the "can opener" or kubi-hishigi) and putting body weight on top of the sternum, floating ribs, or similarly sensitive bones. These moves are not true submission moves; they are generally only used as distractions mostly in lower levels of competition. They are avoided or aggressively countered in middle to upper levels of competition.
Chokes and strangles (commonly referred to as "air chokes" and "blood chokes") are common forms of submission. In BJJ, the chokes that are used put pressure on the carotid arteries, and may also apply pressure to the nerve baroreceptors in the neck. This kind of choke is very fast acting (if done properly) with victims typically losing consciousness in around 3–5 seconds. In contrast, an air choke (involving constriction of the windpipe) can take up to two minutes, depending on how long the person can hold their breath, and may cause serious damage to the throat.
The Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioner's uniform is similar to a judogi, but often with tighter cuffs on the pants and jacket. This allows the practitioner to benefit from a closer fit, providing less material for an opponent to manipulate, although there is a significant overlap in the standards that allows for a carefully selected gi to be legal for competition in both styles. Traditionally, to be promoted in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, the wearing of the jiu-jitsugi while training is a requirement. Recently with the growing popularity of "no gi" Brazilian jiu-jitsu, the practice of giving out belts to no gi practitioners (e.g., Rolles Gracie awarding Rashad Evans a black belt) has become more common. The term kimono is sometimes used to describe the outfit, especially in Brazil.
The Brazilian jiu-jitsu ranking system awards a practitioner different colored belts to signify increasing levels of technical knowledge and practical skill. While the system's structure shares its origins with the judo ranking system and the origins of all colored belts, it now contains many of its own unique aspects and themes. Some of these differences are relatively minor, such as the division between youth and adult belts and the stripe/degree system. Others are quite distinct and have become synonymous with the art, such as a marked informality in promotional criteria, including as a focus on a competitive demonstration of skill, and a conservative approach to promotion in general.
Traditionally, the concept of competitive skill demonstration as a quickened and earned route of promotion holds true. Some schools have placed a green belt for adults between the white and blue belt ranks due to the long periods between advancement. In addition, the use of a grey belt has been instituted for many children's programs to signal progress between the white and yellow belt rankings.
Unlike in some martial arts such as judo and karate, a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu commonly takes more than several years to earn, and the rank is generally considered expert level. The amount of time it takes to achieve the rank of black belt varies between the practitioner. Some notable individuals who had previous backgrounds in other martial arts have been promoted directly to black belt rank without going through any intermediate rank. Others have achieved the rank in relatively short timeframes. Outside of exceptions such as these, the average timeframe is around 10 years with a consistent training schedule. However, Ryron Gracie (grandson/grandnephew of founders Hélio and Carlos Gracie) has stated that the average of 10-12 years is longer than necessary, suggesting that the ego of the practitioner often hinders progress, and advancement to black belt should take 7 years.
Since its inception in Brazil, the various Jiu-Jitsu forms have had many registered federations and tournament organizers calling themselves federations. The first Jiu-Jitsu Federation was the Jiu-Jitsu Federation of Guanabara that with time stayed as a regional federation of Rio de Janeiro while many others were founded. Among the most prestigious of the many federations are the Sport Jiu Jitsu International Federation (SJJIF), a nonprofit organization with federations and tournaments around the globe with the mission of making Jiu-Jitsu an Olympic sport, and the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation, a profit organization that hosts a number of tournaments.
While there are numerous local and regional tournaments administered regularly by private individuals and academies, there are two major entities in the jiu-jitsu sub culture. First, is the Sport Jiu Jitsu International Federation (SJJIF), a (nonprofit) organization with federations and tournaments all around the globe. Second, is the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation (IBJJF), an organization that hosts a number of major tournaments worldwide. These include the Pan American Championship, European Championship, and the Mundials. California, New York, and Texas are the three states in the US which host tournaments most frequently. Other promotions within North America, such as American Grappling Federation (AGF), North American BJJ Federation (NABJJF), and North American Grappling Association (NAGA) host tournaments nationwide, but visit these states multiple times within a tournament season.
Another tournament to spring from the founding Gracie lineage is the Gracie Nationals or Gracie Worlds. Started by Rose Gracie, daughter of Ultimate Fighting Championship creator and Brazilian jiu-jitsu grandmaster Rorion Gracie. Founded in 2007, Gracie Nationals/Worlds mimicked other respected tournaments at the time, implementing a points system to score victories.
In 2012, the Gracie Worlds introduced a new submission-only format, removing subjective judging opinions and what many see as an outdated scoring system. Rose spoke candidly about this change when she said, "Today's tournaments aren't what my grandfather [Helio Gracie] envisioned. There's so many rules that it takes away from the actual art of jiu-jitsu. We don't see many submissions. We see cheating, we see decisions made by a referee. We need to stand together against this and support a submission only kind of revolution." Cheating in jiu-jitsu, Rose said, comes in many forms. "[A competitor] will earn a point, then hold for the entire match so they can win with that one little advantage they got at the start," Rose said. "That's not jiu-jitsu. That's cheating."
This discontent with points-based and advantage-style competition has been echoed throughout the jiu-jitsu community, leading to many prominent submission-only style events. The winner of a match is determined only by submission. Tournament format can have no time limit, or be timed with a result of double disqualification if there is no submission victory. This tournament style has yet to establish itself as something that the general competitor field demands, but it is slowly gaining popularity. Metamoris, a grappling competition event run by Rose's brother Ralek Gracie, has helped push this niche into a bit more prominence. Another notable example of a submission-only format is the EBI (Eddie Bravo Invitational), which was the first televised event of its kind, and is now being featured on UFC Fight Pass. Other submission-only events have cropped up all over the world including TUFF invitational and Polaris Pro and many others.
Brazillian Jiu Jitsu is one of the safest martial arts. However, it is very effective as a fighter could quickly dislocate their opponents joints or knock them out with a choke-hold if they choose to. The injury rate is around 9.2-38.6 per 1000 athlete exposures. This is lower than in Mixed martial arts (236-286 per 1000), boxing (210-420 per 1000), judo (25.3-130.6) and Taekwondo (20.5-139.5). It is similar to wrestling which also uses grappling instead of striking; the few injuries that may be incurred in Brazillian Jiu Jitsu usually affect the joints and rarely the head.
Besides the normal strains and pulls associated with most martial arts, Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioners (along with Wrestlers, Judoka, and other grapplers ) are exposed to regular skin abrasions and potential unsanitary mat conditions. They are thus at higher risk for developing skin disease. Several commonly contracted skin diseases include ringworm, impetigo, herpes gladiatorum, and staph infection. Proper hygiene practices, including regular cleaning of classroom mats, showering immediately after class with soap, disinfecting and covering any open wounds, thorough cleaning of any gi/rashguard/headgear used before the next class, not sharing used towels/uniforms, and using a barrier cream greatly reduces the chance of contracting a disease.
Due to the use of the head to maintain position and attack in jiu-jitsu, the ears can easily be damaged and begin to swell. Without immediate medical treatment, the cartilage in a swollen ear will separate from the perichondrium that supplies its nutrients and will become permanently swollen/deformed (cauliflower ear). The use of wrestling headgear is sometimes used for prevention of this condition.
The practice of taking performance-enhancing drugs, including anabolic steroids, is believed to be relatively commonplace in sport jiu-jitsu tournaments and has sparked letters and public statements by some of jiu-jitsu's top competitors, including Comprido and Caio Terra, regarding the matter. In response, the IBJJF began testing for performance-enhancing drugs at IBJJF sponsored events, starting with the 2013 Pan American Championship.
A spinal lock is a multiple joint lock applied to the spinal column, which is performed by forcing the spine beyond its normal ranges of motion. This is typically done by bending or twisting the head or upper body into abnormal positions. Commonly, spinal locks might strain the spinal musculature or result in a mild spinal sprain, while a forcefully and/or suddenly applied spinal lock may cause severe ligament damage or damage to the vertebrae, and possibly result in serious spinal cord injury, strokes, or death. Spinal locks and cervical locks are completely forbidden from Gi Jiu Jitsu, amateur MMA, multiple forms of No Gi Jiu Jitsu, Judo, and other martial arts. Due to its illegal nature and express purpose to cause serious, irrevocable bodily injury, paralysis, and death, its use both inside and outside of the gym can constitute aggravated assault.
International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation world champions include the following:Pedro Sauer
Julio Cesar Pereira