Brazilian jiu jitsu: Wikis


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Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
Two black-belt level practitioners competing in the World Jiu-Jitsu Championship. The technique being attempted is a triangle choke, a technique that has become synonymous with the art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Also known as BJJ, Jiu-Jitsu, Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, GJJ
Focus Grappling
Country of origin Brazil Brazil
Creator Mitsuyo Maeda, Carlos Gracie, Helio Gracie
Famous practitioners Gracie family, Machado family, Fabio Gurgel, Alexandre Dantas, Demian Maia, Marcio Gomes, Marcelo Garcia, BJ Penn, Frank Mir, Rubens Charles Maciel, Saulo Ribeiro, Xande Ribeiro, Leticia Ribeiro, Fábio Santos, Braulio Estima
Parenthood Early 20th century Kodokan Judo[1]
Olympic sport No

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (Portuguese pronunciation: [ʒuˈʒitsu], English: /dʒuːˈdʒɪtsuː/) is a martial art, combat sport and a form of self-defense that focuses on grappling and especially ground fighting. The art was derived from the Japanese martial art of Kodokan judo in the early 20th century,[1][2] which was itself developed from a number of schools (or Ryu) of Japanese jujutsu in the 19th century.

It promotes the principle that a smaller, weaker person can successfully defend themself against a bigger, stronger assailant by using leverage and proper technique — most notably by applying joint-locks and chokeholds to defeat the other person. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu can be trained for sport grappling tournaments (gi and no-gi) and mixed martial arts (MMA) competition or self-defense.[3] Sparring (commonly referred to as 'rolling') and live drilling play a major role in training, and a premium is placed on performance, especially in competition.



The art began with Mitsuyo Maeda (aka Conde Koma, or Count Coma in English), an expert Japanese judoka and member of the Kodokan. Maeda was one of five of the Kodokan's top groundwork experts that judo's founder Kano Jigoro sent overseas to spread his art to the world. Maeda left Japan in 1904 and visited a number of countries[2] 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.[4]

Jujutsu, as with its parent art of judo, is known as more than just a system of fighting. Since its inception in 1882, judo was separated from older systems of Japanese jujutsu. This was more than just Kano's ambition to clearly individualize his art: to Kano, judo wasn't solely a martial art: it was also a sport; a method for promoting physical fitness and building character in young people; and, ultimately, a way (Do) of life.[5][6]

It is often claimed that BJJ is a development of traditional Japanese jujutsu, not judo, and that Maeda was a jujutsuka. However, Maeda never trained in jujutsu. He first trained in sumo as a teenager, and after the interest generated by stories about the success of judo at contests between judo and jujutsu that were occurring at the time, he changed from sumo to judo, becoming a student of Kano's Kodokan judo.[2] He was promoted to 7th dan in Kodokan judo the day before he died in 1941.

Helio Gracie also held the rank of 6th dan in judo.[7]


When Maeda left Japan, judo was still often referred to as "Kano Jiu-Jitsu",[8] or, even more generically, simply as "Jiu-Jitsu."[9][10] Higashi, the co-author of "Kano Jiu-Jitsu"[8] 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."[8]

Outside Japan, however, this distinction was noted even less. The distinction between a jutsu and a do is subtle, and is still used somewhat arbitrarily to this day. Thus, when Maeda and Satake arrived in Brazil in 1914, every newspaper announced "jiu-jitsu" despite both men being Kodokan judoka.[5]

The Japanese government itself did not officially mandate until 1925 that the correct name for the martial art taught in the Japanese public schools should be "judo" rather than "jujutsu".[11] In Brazil, the art is still called "Jiu-Jitsu". When the Gracies went to the United States to spread their art, they renamed this Japanese fighting system as "Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu" and "Gracie Jiu-Jitsu." "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." Other common spellings are "jujitsu" and "ju-jitsu".

The art is sometimes referred to as Gracie Jiu-Jitsu (GJJ), but this name is trademarked by Rorion Gracie and specifically refers to the style taught by him and his selected teachers. 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 brothers 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 three major branches of BJJ from Brazil: Gracie Humaita, Gracie Barra, and Carlson Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. Each branch can trace its roots back to Mitsuyo Maeda and the Gracie family.


Maeda met an influential businessman named Gastão Gracie who helped him get established. In 1916, his 14 year-old son Carlos Gracie watched a demonstration by Maeda at the Teatro da Paz (Theatre of Peace) and decided to learn the art. Maeda accepted Carlos as a student,[2] and Carlos went on to become a great exponent of the art and ultimately, with his younger brother Hélio Gracie became the founder of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, modern Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.[12]

In 1921, Gastão Gracie and his family moved to Rio de Janeiro. Carlos, then 17 years old, passed Maeda's teachings on to his brothers Osvaldo, Gastão and Jorge. Hélio was too young and sick at that time to learn the art, and due to medical imposition was prohibited to take part in the training sessions. Despite that, Hélio learned from watching his brothers. He eventually overcame his health problems and is now considered by many as the founder of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (though others, such as Carlson Gracie, have pointed to Carlos as the founder of the art).[12]

Hélio competed in several submission judo competitions which mostly ended in a draw. One defeat (in Brazil in 1951) was by visiting Japanese judoka Masahiko Kimura, whose surname the Gracies gave to the arm lock used to defeat Hélio. The Gracie family continued to develop the system throughout the 20th century, often fighting vale tudo matches (precursors to modern MMA), during which it increased its focus on ground fighting and refined its techniques.[13]

Today, the main differences between the BJJ styles is between traditional Gracie Jiu-Jitsu's emphasis on self-defense, and Sport Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu's orientation towards point competition. There is a large commonality of techniques between the two. Also, there is a wide variety of ideals in training in different schools in terms of the utilization of technique versus how much to attempt to overpower an opponent.

Divergence from Kodokan rules

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. Many of the banned techniques are preserved in the judo kata, and are practised to varying extents in different clubs. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu did not follow many of these changes to judo rules, and this divergence[14] has given it a distinct identity as a martial 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.

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 art. BJJ also differs from judo in that it also allows a competitor to drag his opponent to the ground, and also even to drop to the ground himself provided he has first taken a grip.[15] Early Kodokan judo not only allowed all that BJJ now allows, it even allowed a fighter to drop straight to the ground without first taking a grip.

BJJ's different rules set and point scoring mechanisms are designed to give BJJ an arguably more practical emphasis, by rewarding positions of control from which the grappler could strike their opponent (if it weren't for the sport's restrictions against striking).


Jiu-Jitsu came to international prominence in the martial arts community in the 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.[3] Royce fought against often much-larger opponents who were practicing other styles, including boxing, shoot-fighting, karate, judo and tae kwon do. 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.

Style of fighting

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu emphasizes taking an opponent to the ground and utilizing ground fighting techniques and submission holds involving joint-locks and chokeholds also found in numerous other arts with or without ground fighting emphasis. The premise is that most of the advantage of a larger, stronger opponent comes from superior reach and more powerful strikes, both of which are somewhat negated when grappling on the ground.

BJJ permits a wide variety of techniques to take the fight to the ground after taking a grip. 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 position to defend oneself from bottom, 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 utilized by two experienced practitioners. A submission hold is the equivalent of checkmate in the sport. However, it is possible for a combat situation to continue even after a proper submission is performed.

Renzo Gracie wrote in his book Mastering Jujitsu:

"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.[16]

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 that 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 perfected over time by the Gracies and others, and became prominent in contemporary MMA.

Comparison with judo

Originally having been developed from judo, and while still recognizable as closely related and even as a style of judo,[citation needed] there are some differences from modern Olympic judo. For example BJJ encourages free sparring without striking (also known as "rolling"), against a live, resisting opponent very similar to randori in judo, however the rules related to this sparring have some differences.

Ground fighting

BJJ is most strongly differentiated by its greater emphasis on groundwork, in contrast with 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, resulting in enhancement of judo's groundwork techniques by BJJ practitioners.

There are also many techniques that have allegedly created by BJJ practitioners, many had been used in some form or another by Kodokan judo practitioners during its long history. Some of them are now rarely seen in judo dojos. In some instances, BJJ practitioners genuinely rediscovered techniques that they did not know existed in judo, such as the Gogoplata. However, some new techniques have certainly been developed by BJJ practitioners, such as the Brabo choke or "rubber guard" defensive hold.

Along with BJJ's great strengths on the ground comes its relative weakness with standing techniques such as striking. Many judo practitioners also regard the art as having greatly lost the ability to execute effective throws and takedowns, a cornerstone of the original judo. A similar, but contrary opinion is held by BJJ practitioners of the ground technique in judo, which is regarded as having become extremely limited and of decreased effectivenes. There is an increasing amount of cross-training between the sports of BJJ and judo, and striking based arts such as Muay Thai.

Training methods

Sport Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu's 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.

Primary Ground Positions

One type of Side control

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.

Side Control

The practitioner pins their opponent to the ground from the side of their body. Their laying across the opponent with weight applied to the opponent's chest. The opponent may be further controlled by pressure on either side of their shoulders and hips from the practitioner's elbows and knees. A wide variety of submissions are initiated from Side control.

Full Mount is considered one of the most dominant Grappling positions.
Full Mount

The practitioner sits astride opponent's chest, in the strongest form of this position the practitioner works their knees up under into the arm pits to reduce arm movements, limiting their ability to move or counter the submission attempts. Full Mount is mostly used to attack the arms or apply choke holds.

Back Mount

The practitioner attaches to the back of the opponent by wrapping their legs around and hooking the opponent's thighs with their heels. Simultaneously, the upper body is controlled by wrapping the arms around the chest or neck of the opponent. This position is commonly used to apply chokeholds, and counters much of the benefit an opponent may have from greater size or strength.

One type of Guard

In the Guard, the practitioner is on their back controlling an opponent with their legs. The practitioner pushes and pull with the thighs or feet to upset the balance and limit the movements of their opponent. This position comes into play often when an opponent manages to place the practitioner upon his or her 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 apply a variety of joint-locks as well as various chokes.


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.[3] 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 (i.e. tap the opponent, the mat several times. 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, 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.

Joint locks

A practitioner attempting a type of armbar submission.

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 straight ankle locks being the only leglocks allowed in the beginner division, or white belt level, straight kneebars being allowed in the intermediate division, or blue belt level and toeholds with the pressure applied inwards are allowed in the advanced division (purple, brown, black).

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. 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

Chokes and strangles (commonly but somewhat incorrectly referred to as "air chokes" and "blood chokes" respectively) are a common form of submission. Chokes involve constriction of the windpipe (causing asphyxia.) Strangles involve constriction of the carotid artery (causing ischemia.)[17]

Air chokes are less efficient than strangles and may result in damage to the opponent's trachea, sometimes even resulting in death. By contrast, blood chokes (strangulations) cut the flow of blood to the opponent's brain, causing a rapid loss of consciousness without damaging any internal structures. Being "choked-out" in this way is relatively safe as long as the choke is released soon enough after unconsciousness, letting blood back into the brain before oxygen deprivation damage begins.[18] However, it should not be practiced unsupervised.

The Gi

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. To be promoted in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, the wearing of the Gi while training is a requirement, but recently with the growing popularity of "no gi" Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, instructors have been giving out belts to no gi practitioners. Such as Rolles Gracie awarding Rashad Evans a black belt.

As is the case with judo, the term kimono is sometimes used to describe the outfit, especially in Brazil.


Age categories[19]
4-6 pré-mirim
7-9 mirim
10-12 infantil
13-15 infanto-juvenil
16-17 juvenil
18-29 adulto
30-35 master
36-40 sênior I
41-45 sênior II
46-50 sênior III
51-55 sênior IV
56+ sênior V
Junior belt colors (15 and under)
White BJJ White Belt.PNG
Yellow BJJ Yellow Belt.PNG
Orange BJJ Orange Belt.PNG
Green BJJ Green Belt.PNG
Adult belt colors (16 and over)
White BJJ White Belt.PNG
Blue BJJ Blue Belt.PNG
Purple BJJ Purple Belt.PNG
Brown BJJ Brown Belt.PNG
Black BJJ Black Belt.PNG
Black/Red BJJ black red belt.PNG
Red BJJ Red Belt.PNG

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.[20][21][22] Traditionally, the concept of competitive skill demonstration as a quickened and earned route of promotion holds true.[20][21][22]

World Jiu-Jitsu Championship

One of the most prestigious and recognized Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tournament in the world is the World Jiu-Jitsu Championship (known as the Mundials), hosted annually by the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation. [23]

It must be noted that when speaking of the world championship it most often specifies championships held by International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation. There have been other organizations like the CBJJE which also hosts World Class Championships in Brazil. In the United States there are many success stories with American fighters such as BJ Penn being the first American to win a gold medal in the Black Belt Division and as well Ryan Beauregard being the only American in 2008, in the Brown Belt division to win a World Championship in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

BJJ Teams with the most Gold Medals [24]

School # of Gold Medals '96-'09
Gracie Barra 164
Alliance 89
Gracie Humaita 76
Nova Uniao 58
Brasa 35
Carlson Gracie Team 27
Brazilian Top Team 21
  • Data is aggregated from several sources of predominant BJJ, Jiu-Jitsu Tournaments including IBJJF tournament results from 1996 - 2009

See also


  1. ^ a b Virgílio, Stanlei (2002) (in Portuguese). Conde Koma - O invencível yondan da história. Editora Átomo. pp. 93. ISBN 85-87585-24-X. 
  2. ^ a b c d Virgílio, Stanlei (2002) (in Portuguese). Conde Koma invencível yondan da história. Editora Átomo. pp. 22–25. ISBN 858758524X. 
  3. ^ a b c, Untangling a sport that transcends style Chad Edward The Cincinnati Enquirer October 30, 2007 12:05 PM
  4. ^ Eros, Rildo. "História do Judô". 
  5. ^ a b Virgílio, Stanlei (2002) (in Portuguese). Conde Koma - O invencível yondan da história. Editora Átomo. pp. 72–73. ISBN 85-87585-24-X. 
  6. ^ For more on this, see judo and Kano Jigoro.
  7. ^ According to Masahiko Kimura in his book "My Judo", Helio Gracie was a 6th dan judo at the time of his fight with Kimura in 1951 ( see extract]). There is no Kodokan record of Hélio Gracie having any dan grade in judo, but it is not unusual for a foreign judoka's actual grade to be higher than that officially granted and recorded by the Kodokan, as Kodokan ranks are maintained independently and have much more strict requirements.
  8. ^ a b c As evidenced by the title of the book Hancock, H. Irving; Higashi, Katsukuma (1905). The Complete Kano Jiu-Jitsu (Judo). New York: G. P. Putnam & Sons. pp. 544.  See details, including the original book cover here.
  9. ^ As evidenced by the title of the book Kano, Jigoro (1937). Jiu-Jitsu (Judo). Tokyo, Japan: Board of Tourist Industry, Japanese Government Railways. pp. 59.  See details, including the original book cover here.
  10. ^ As also evidenced by the title of the book Gregory, O.H.; Tomita, Tsunejiro (circa 1907). Judo: The Modern School of Jiu-Jitsu. Chicago, USA. 
  11. ^ Motomura, Kiyoto. "Budō in the Physical Education Curriculum of Japanese Schools." In Alexander Bennett, ed., Budo Perspectives. Auckland: Kendo World, 2005, pp. 233-238.
  12. ^ a b Virgílio, Stanlei (2002) (in Portuguese). Conde Koma - O invencível yondan da história. Editora Átomo. pp. 93–104. ISBN 85-87585-24-X. 
  13. ^ Peligro, Kid (2003). The Gracie Way: Illustrated History of the World's Greatest Martial Arts Family. Invisible Cities Press Llc. ISBN 1-931229-28-7. 
  14. ^ IBJJF rules(International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation) - URL last accessed April 3, 2008
  15. ^ Article 5.2.2.A of the IBJJF rules states "The athlete will only be allowed to kneel after having taken hold of his opponents kimono."
  16. ^ Gracie, Renzo (2003). Mastering Jujitsu. Human Kinetics. pp. 1–233. ISBN 0736044043. 
  17. ^ Ohlenkamp, Neil. Principles of Judo Choking Techniques. URL last accessed October 23, 2007.
  18. ^ Koiwai, E.K. (MD). How Safe is Choking in Judo?. URL last accessed October 23, 2007.
  19. ^
  20. ^ a b "Martial arts ranking". The similar graduation system of another martial art (Karate). Retrieved October 13th, 2009. 
  21. ^ a b Camargo, Bruno. "IBJJF Graduation system". Retrieved October 13th, 2009. 
  22. ^ a b Gracie, Renzo & Royler (2001). Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu: Theory and Technique. Invisible Cities Press Llc. pp. 304. ISBN 1931229082. 
  23. ^
  24. ^ from BJJ Legends Magazine & DVD Article, 2009 - Team with Most Gold MedalsData is aggregated from several sources of predominant BJJ, Jiu-Jitsu Tournaments including IBJJF tournament results from 1996 - 2009


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