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About Bjj

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (also known as Gracie Jiu-Jitsu®) is a martial art developed by the Gracie family from Brazil based on the Japanese arts of jiu-jitsu and judo. Jiu-Jitsu (sometimes spelled as “Jujitsu”) had existed in Japan for centuries. Its origins are not entirely clear, although most historians believe that Oriental martial arts originated in India, and from there migrated to China, Korea and Japan.


Jiu-jitsu translates as “gentle or soft art”. The reason for this term is the jiu-jitsu’s underlying concept of using one’s strength and leverage in the most efficient way to overcome an opponent. The focus is on disabling (submitting) an opponent using technique and leverage, rather than brute strength. Utilizing this principle, a smaller person can defeat a stronger and larger opponent.

In the 1914, Mitsuyo Maeda, a jiu-jitsu and judo practitioner moved to Brazil to help establish a Japanese immigrant community. A local man, Gastao Gracie, whose family had immigrated to Brazil from Scotland had helped Maeda in his endeavors. The friendship that developed between Maeda and Gracie resulted in Maeda offering to teach jiu-jitsu to Gastao’s sons. Carlos Gracie, Gastao’s oldest son, became one of Maeda’s students, and subsequently taught his brothers, including Helio.

Maeda’s principal fighting method involved throwing a low kick or elbow to set up a clinch to take the fight to the ground. Once there, he focused on ground-grappling submissions to finish the fight – a general strategy used by today’s modern Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fighters.

  • Grappling (definition “seizing another in a firm grip or engaging in a struggle or close encounter”) can be a highly effective combat style, by negating strengths of other styles and exploiting their weaknesses.
  • The need for realistic live training (randori)
  • Techniques of jiu-jitsu (learn the existing techniques, refine them, come up with new ones)
  • The basic strategy of taking a striker to the ground, or utilizing a larger opponent’s imbalance when he initiates take-down to achieve submission.

Most of the technical knowledge and evolution of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu was discovered and developed by the Gracies themselves. The Gracie brothers were all relatively small in stature, which required more efficient use of leverage to get techniques succeed in submissions.

The Gracie brothers and their offspring have further developed this martial art style by engaging in challenge matches, often without time limits (i.e. the match would finish when an opponent would give up or be rendered unconscious). These predecessors of today’s mixed martial arts (MMA) competitions were also known as no holds barred (NHB) or vale tudo (anything goes) matches.

The evolution continues today with further developments of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu into Submission Grappling (Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practiced without kimono/no incorporating elements of wrestling, Sambo and other martial arts), Mixed Martial Arts (utilizing striking from clinch and positions on the ground) and other applications.

It continues to be guided by the basic principals of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu /Submission Grappling:

  • Taking an opponent to the ground removes or mitigates the danger of striking to a large degree
  • The practitioner of jiu-jitsu is much more familiar in this environment (ground) than the opponent, and therefore can operate in more controlled manner towards submission.

The Gracie clan, which today numbers in the hundreds (and includes the cousins – Machados) has achieved worldwide fame by developing a martial art which has shown its effectiveness in numerous competitions under variety of rules (or lack thereof) and conditions, as well in self-defense situations. It would be near impossible today to find a world class mixed martial arts athlete who does not practice Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

  • For more information about Judo Founder Jigoro Kano CLICK HERE.
  • For more information about Mitsuyo Maeda, also known as “Conde Koma,” CLICK HERE.