Competitor (bottom) at the World Jiu-Jitsu Championship in Long Beach, California, attempts a triangle choke.
|Also known as||BJJ (Brazilian jiu-jitsu), Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, GJJ, Jiu-Jitsu|
|Country of origin||Brazil, Japan|
|Creator||Carlos Gracie, Helio Gracie, Mitsuyo Maeda|
|Famous practitioners||See: List of Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioners|
Brazilian jiu-jitsu (//; Portuguese: [ˈʒiw ˈʒitsu], [ˈʒu ˈʒitsu], [dʒiˈu dʒiˈtsu]) (BJJ) is a martial art, combat sport, and a self defense system that focuses on grappling and especially ground fighting. Brazilian jiu-jitsu was formed from Kodokan Judo ground fighting (Ne-Waza) fundamentals that were taught to Carlos Gracie by master Mitsuyo Maeda. Brazilian jiu-jitsu eventually came to be its own art through the experimentations, practices, and adaptation from the Judo knowledge of Carlos and Helio Gracie, who then passed their knowledge onto their family.
BJJ promotes the concept that a smaller, weaker person can successfully defend against a bigger, stronger assailant by using leverage and proper technique, taking the fight to the ground – most notably by applying joint-locks and chokeholds to defeat the other person. BJJ training can be used for sport grappling tournaments (gi and no-gi) and mixed martial arts (MMA) competition or self-defense. 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, in relation to progress and ascension through its ranking system.
Since its inception in 1914, its parent art of Judo was separated from older systems of Japanese ju-jitsu by an important difference that was passed on to Brazilian jiu-jitsu: it is not solely a martial art: it is also a sport; a method for promoting physical fitness and building character in young people; and, ultimately, a way (Do) of life.
Mitsuyo Maeda, was one of five of the Kodokan's top groundwork (Ne – Waza) 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 between Kodokan Judo and jujutsu that were occurring at the time, he changed from sumo to Judo, becoming 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 Mayeda. 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.
At age fourteen, Hélio Gracie, the youngest of the brothers, moved in with his older brothers who lived and taught traditional Japanese jiu-jitsu in a house in Botafogo. Following a doctor's recommendations, Hélio would spend the next few years being limited to watching his brothers teach as he was naturally frail. Over time, Hélio Gracie gradually developed Gracie Jiu Jitsu as a softer, pragmatic adaptation from Judo, as he was unable to perform many Judo moves that require direct opposition to an opponent's strength. Through the years Helio Gracie developed a system that focused on ground fighting, as opposed to Judo which emphasizes throwing techniques. Years later Helio Gracie Challenged Judo's legend Masahiko Kimura. According to Kimura in his book "My Judo", He thought of Hélio Gracie to be a 6th dan judo at the time of his fight with him in 1951. However, 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.
Although Brazilian jiu-jitsu is largely identified with the Gracie family, there is also another prominent lineage from Maeda via another Brazilian disciple, Luis 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.
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 and the Gracie family.
More recently, the name "jitz" for the art has been gaining currency as a casual layman's term, especially in the USA.
Hélio Gracie had competed in several submission-based competitions which mostly ended in him winning. 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 full-contact matches (precursors to modern MMA), during which it increased its focus on ground fighting and refined its techniques.
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 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 pure or yielding technique versus skillful application of pressure to overcome 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. 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.
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 also 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'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 in a real altercation.
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, 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
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 utilize 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 strength 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 utilized 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 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 developed over time by the Gracies and others, and became prominent in contemporary MMA.
BJJ is most strongly differentiated by its greater emphasis on groundwork than other martial arts. 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 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 and new research of groundwork techniques by BJJ practitioners.
Along with BJJ's great strengths on the ground comes its relative underemphasis of standing techniques, such as striking. To remedy this comparative lack, there is an increasing amount of cross-training between the sports of BJJ and wrestling, Judo, or Sambo, as well as striking based arts such as: boxing, Karate, TaeKwonDo, Muay Thai, and kickboxing.
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
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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 their opponent to the ground from the side of their body. The dominant grappler lays 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, shoulders, and knees. A wide variety of submissions are initiated from side control.
In the mount position the practitioner sits astride the opponent's chest, controlling the opponent with their bodyweight and hips. 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 can be used to apply armlocks or strangles.
When utilizing the back mount (often known in Brazilian jiu-jitsu as the back grab or rear 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 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 their back controlling an opponent with their legs. The practitioner pushes and pulls with the legs 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 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 Open, Closed, and Half. In closed guard, the bottom grappler has their legs around the opponent's trunk and has their ankles closed together to provide control and a barrier to escaping the position. In the open guard, the legs are not hooked together and the bottom grappler uses their legs or feet to push or pull in a more dynamic fashion. In the half guard, one of the top grappler's legs is being controlled by the bottom grappler's legs.
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 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). Some competitions also ban submissions involving the crushing or compression of muscle tissue.
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 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 gi 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 coloured 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 coloured 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. The amount of time it takes to achieve the rank of black belt varies between the individual but the average time frame is between 8 and 10 years  with a consistent training schedule.
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While there are numerous local and regional tournaments administered regularly by private individuals and academies, the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation annually hosts a number of major tournaments in geographically disparate regions. These include the Pan American Championship, European Championship, and the Mundials.
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, and staph infection. Proper hygiene practices, including regular cleaning of classroom mats, showering immediately after class with an antibacterial 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. The problem has become so commonplace that products like Defense Soap have been created specifically for grappling.
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 style 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.
- Tony Bonello, Australian mixed martial artist
- Oswaldo Fadda, Brazilian mixed martial artist
- Marcelo Garcia, Brazilian BJJ champion and mixed martial artist
- Hélio Gracie, Brazilian mixed martial artist
- Igor Gracie, Brazilian mixed martial artist
- Ralph Gracie, Brazilian mixed martial artist
- Royce Gracie, Brazilian mixed martial artist
- Sarah Kaufman, Canadian mixed martial artist
- Fredson Paixão, Brazilian mixed martial artist
- Rousimar Palhares, Brazilian mixed martial artist
- Ido Pariente, Israeli mixed martial artist
- Jorge Patino, Brazilian mixed martial artist
- Pablo Popovitch, Brazilian mixed martial artist
- Geny Rebello, Brazilian mixed martial artist
- Anderson Silva, Brazilian mixed martial artist
- Ronaldo Souza, Brazilian BJJ champion and mixed martial artist
- Georges St-Pierre, Canadian mixed martial artist
- Armando Wridt, Brazilian mixed martial artist
- Mikhail Zayats, Russian mixed martial artist
- List of Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioners
- Gracie Jiu-Jitsu
- Master and seniors international jiu-jitsu championship
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- For more on this, see judo and Kano Jigoro.
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- IBJJF rules (International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation) – URL last accessed April 3, 2008
- 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."
- Gracie, Renzo (2003). Mastering Jiu-jitsu. Human Kinetics. pp. 1–233. ISBN 0-7360-4404-3.
- "International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation – Rule Book". Official IFBJJ rules, see Article 5 – Fighting Conclusions, The order of the referee, subsection – E. Retrieved June 10, 2010.
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- Fabio Silva; see time 45–50 seconds in video 
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- "Grappling Tournament Health Warning Advisory – Dirty Mats nearly caused AMPUTATION in 2009!!!". Grapplers Quest. Retrieved 2011-09-15.
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- : Equipe Brasa : : Brasa team : Brazilian Jiu Jitu :. "Black belts united against steroids in BJJ. Do you want to join it?". Brasa.brazilianblackbelt.com. Retrieved 2013-03-30.
- Erin Herle (January 23, 2013). "Drug Testing Makes its Way to Jiu-Jitsu Competition". GracieMag. Retrieved April 11, 2013.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu|
- Gastão and Hélio Gracie talk about Gracie Jiu-Jitsu – interviewed in 1997 for Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Videos
- ibjjf.org International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation, Retrieved 2010-10-12.
- What Is Jiu Jitsu?
- BJJ Techniques