Who Invented Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?

Asking who created BJJ may seem like an easy and straightforward question. However there is debate over who is the true founder of BJJ and whether or not BJJ is different to Judo and Japanese Jiu Jitsu.

Who Invented Brazilian Jiu Jitsu? The techniques used in BJJ are taken from Judo’s curriculum which was invented by Judo’s founder Jigoro Kano. These techniques were taught to the Gracie family in Brazil by one of Kano’s students Mitsuyo Maeda. The Gracie family then focused on the ground techniques, refined them and created the sport now known as Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

Is Jiu Jitsu Brazilian or Japanese?

Jiu Jitsu was originally created in Japan and was a complete hand to hand fighting system which focused heavily on throws and submissions. Kano then modified Jiu Jitsu techniques to make them safer and created the sport of Judo. The sport of Judo was then modified to create Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Today Jiu Jitsu is both Brazilian and Japanese with each country laying claim to its distinct version of the martial art.

Did The Gracies Invent BJJ?

Yes, the Gracies did invent BJJ. The Gracies took the Judo techniques they learned from Maeda and modified them. By training the ground techniques much more than typical Judo practitioners they were able to make improvements to the techniques particularly by improving the ability to transition between submissions. This ability to seamlessly transition between many different techniques was called “flow” by the Gracies which was unheard of in Judo.

Also by removing the pin rule and not having a time limit on ground work the Gracies were able to make technical breakthroughs for example improving finishing ability in techniques such as the arm bar and triangle. By changing the rules of Judo and altering the current Judo techniques the Gracies invented a new martial art known as BJJ.

Who Taught The Gracies BJJ?

The Gracies learned Judo and Catch Wrestling from Mitsuyo Maeda which the Gracies transformed into BJJ. Mitsuyo Maeda learnt Judo directly from the founder, Kano at the Kodokan in Tokyo, Japan. Maeda travelled the world performing Judo demonstrations and accepting challenge fights for money. Maeda finally settled in Brazil in 1914 where he performed Judo demonstrations in a circus run by the Gracies.

Teenager Carlos Gracie was impressed with Maeda and began learning Judo from Maeda with his brother Helio. Carlos and Helio then took the techniques they learned from Maeda and began teaching their brothers leading to the creation of BJJ.

What Year Was BJJ Invented?

BJJ was unofficially invented in 1917 when Carlos Gracie first started studying Judo under Maeda in Belem, Brazil. After becoming an expert in Judo and altering the techniques Carlos Gracie at the age of 23 opened the first BJJ school in 1925 in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. The opening of the first BJJ school in 1925 was a pivotal moment in the invention of BJJ and can be viewed as the founding moment of the martial art. 

Did The Gracie Family Start The UFC?

Yes, the Gracie family did start the UFC. The Gracie family preceding the UFC had engaged in numerous no holds barred fights which they filmed and used to show how effective BJJ was in combat. These videos were known as the Gracie in Action tapes. Rorion Gracie wanted to take these fights to the next level by showing to the world how effective BJJ was. Rorion and promoted Art Davie came up with the idea of the UFC as a way to display BJJ to the entire globe.

The sport was to be used as marketing for the effectiveness of BJJ. Rorion selected Royce Gracie to represent BJJ and the Gracie family. In 1993 at the first UFC event Royce Gracie defeated all his opponents and BJJ became a globally renowned martial art and a new sport was born.

Rorion Gracie went on to sell his share in the UFC in 1995 after disagreeing with proposed rule changes such as rounds, time limits and a scoring system.

What’s The Difference Between Gracie Jiu Jitsu and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?

There is no difference between Gracie Jiu Jitsu and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. The difference is mostly marketing. Academies which use the term Gracie Jiu Jitsu rather than Brazilian Jiu Jitsu are typically affiliated with Rorion Gracie. Rorion Gracie claims that his academies teach the real, pure Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

Rorion Gracie has trademarked the Gracie Jiu Jitsu name as a way to capitalise on the family’s fame. Practically the only difference between Gracie Jiu Jitsu and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu academies is that Gracie Jiu Jitsu schools will often place a greater emphasis on self defence and teaching techniques which are applicable in street fights. Whereas Brazilian Jiu Jitsu schools will typically focus more on training students in preparation for BJJ competitions and teaching techniques which work under BJJ rules.

What Does Jiu Jitsu Mean?

Jiu jitsu is a western misspelling of the Japanese Ju jutsu which was a term for a collection of Japanese martial arts preceding Jiu Jitsu. In Brazil, Ju jutsu was known as Jiu Jitsu as the name Judo had still not been mandated. The Gracies did not change their martial art to Judo instead they continued to use the westernised version of Ju jutsu, Jiu Jitsu.

In Japanese, Judo translates to the “gentle way”, while Ju jutsu translates to the “gentle technique” or the “gentle art”.

What’s The Difference Between Japanese Jiu Jitsu and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?

Both Japanese Jiu Jitsu and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu are modern martial arts derived from the collection of ancient Japanese martial arts known as Jujutsu. 

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a grappling martial art which focuses on ground fighting. BJJ practitioners use submissions and pins to control their opponent. BJJ is now mostly a sport focused martial art with most training geared to competition preparation.

In contrast Japanese Jiu Jitsu largely focuses on takedowns, particularly throws. Japanese Jiu Jitsu similarly to BJJ does incorporate submissions and pins. Japanese Jiu Jitsu, unlike BJJ, teaches blocking and striking. Japanese Jiu Jitsu training is mainly focused on self defence scenarios and sparring takes the form of role playing different combat situations. Japanese Jiu Jitsu also often incorporates weapons into its curriculum.

Even though there is still some debate over who invented BJJ it is pretty clear that Brazilian Jiu Jitsu was invented by the Gracie family in Brazil in 1925. The Gracie’s learned the techniques from Judo and even though most of the techniques in BJJ can be found in Judo the Gracies altered the techniques, improved their effectiveness and changed the rules of the Judo resulting in the creation of a new sport and martial art known as BJJ.


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