An Introduction to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
These days, most Westerners learn about Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu through mixed martial arts (MMA). The grappling-based martial art is prominently featured in the popular sport. However, it was towards the end of the 19th century that some Jiu-Jitsu masters began to spread the art to other continents, through both teaching and taking part in fights and competitions.
Jiu-Jitsu took root in Brazil, in 1915, when a man named Gastao Gracie brought his older son, Carlos, the eldest of eight children, to study with the Japanese master Mitsuyo Maeda. Young Carlos was naturally frail, which made him perfect for demonstrating the concept that a smaller, weaker person can successfully defend against a bigger, stronger assailant by using leverage and proper technique. Four years later, Carlos was living in Rio De Janeiro with his family, teaching and fighting, not to mention proving the efficiency of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu by beating opponents who were physically stronger.
The central theme of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is the skill of controlling a resisting opponent in ways that force him to submit. It is important to first learn the skill of taking an opponent to the ground because control is generally easier on the ground than in a standing position. Once on the ground, the idea is to wrestle your opponent for dominant control positions from where the opponent can be rendered harmless. This includes applying joint locks and chokeholds.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu students tend to gain a deeper understanding of the workings and limits of the human body. Through utilizing superior leverage, grip and position upon one’s opponent, it is possible for someone of lesser size and strength to control and overcome greater size, strength and aggression. It is a matter of physics, albeit a potentially severe one. Sparring and live drilling play a major role in training and the practitioner’s development.
Other benefits include greatly increased physical fitness, problem-solving skills, self-knowledge of the mind and body, and plenty of social benefits stemming from working within a large group of like-minded fellow students. We encourage our students to learn and have fun together. However, we also emphasize that while MMA may have initially sparked their interest, the practice of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, as a sport, is strongly separated from MMA. At the same time, the beginnings of the contemporary MMA competition were certainly linked to proving the combat-efficiency of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Our students, however, study only the grappling sports of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Judo. Sooner or later, like any other martial art, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu becomes a way of life.