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  • 16033 N. 77th St. Suite B Scottsdale
  • Scottsdale AZ 85260 United States
  • 717-0222

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu: The History Behind the Art

There are many theories as to where modern day martial arts originated. Some credit martial arts to monks in temples; others trace it back even further to the days of cave paintings. It will be impossible to find out the exact origin of martial arts, but people have fought each other for as long as recorded history can tell. People came up with many different fighting styles, including martial arts. Today, one of the most unique forms of martial arts is Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

The History of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Brazilian jiu-jitsu is a relatively new martial art. Its origins can be distinctly traced to the Gracie family. The name Gracie is also synonymous with jiu-jitsu. The family is not only credited with the creation of Brazilian jiu-jitsu, but is one of the most recognized family names in the martial arts community.

Carlos Gracie Sr., the history of Brazilian jiu-jitsu

Carlos Gracie |

In 1914, a judo fighter named Mitsuyo Maeda arrived in Brazil. In 1917, he crossed paths with a 14-year-old by the name of Carlos Gracie.

Maeda took young Carlos as a student, teaching him several fighting techniques from his own style. Carlos Gracie took these teachings and opened the Gracie’s first academy in 1925.

Modifying Traditional Jiu-Jitsu Techniques

Carlos had brothers, and one of which was named Hélio. Hélio Gracie wasn’t very big or very strong, and some jiu-jitsu techniques he’d learned were designed for more physically capable people. He used this as a motivation to modify traditional jiu-jitsu techniques, so that a smaller person can defeat a much larger opponent. Hélio’s modifications created an entirely new martial art that was popularized and promoted by brothers Carlos and Hélio, known as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Grows Through Competition

Brazilian jiu-jitsu became more popular as the family took on challenges and fought in several competitions. Every victory achieved by the Gracie family helped popularize Brazilian jiu-jitsu, but traditional martial arts like karate and taekwondo dominated the mainstream from the 1970’s to the 1990’s. Grappling styles were foreign to most martial artists at this time, as well, with wrestlers being the exception.

The First Ultimate Fighting Championship

The Gracie family showcased Brazilian jiu-jitsu in the first Ultimate Fighting Championship. This event pinned people of different fighting backgrounds against each other. Royce Gracie, representing Brazilian jiu-jitsu, won the event, stimulating Brazilian jiu-jitsu’s growth over the past two decades. Brazilian jiu-jitsu has come a long way in very little time due to the Gracie family.

An Ever-Evolving Art

Brazilian jiu-jitsu is one of the few martial arts that evolves itself on a regular basis. New techniques are created and passed down from teacher to student. Though the Gracie family is still a large part of Brazilian jiu-jitsu, the art now grows through its new students, who carry on the spirit and traditions set forth by the Gracie family.

Learn More About Gracie Barra Scottsdale 

Gracie Barra Scottsdale is excited to bring Brazilian jiu-jitsu to the Scottsdale and Phoenix community. If you live in the area and are interested in trying Brazilian jiu-jitsu, we are running a limited time Pre-Registration Special for our first 50 members! Save $100 & sign up today. Learn more here.

~ Patrick J. Flores

About the Author: Patrick’s love for martial arts began early on in life.  He was greatly influenced by pop culture and the desire to mimic figures he saw on TV.  This sparked his love affair with combat sports and the culture behind it.  He obtained a BA in History from California State Polytechnic University Pomona and wrote his senior thesis on the development of Martial Arts within the United States.  During this time he practiced Karate, eventually receiving his black belt under Sensei Ray and Shawna Ginocchio in 2011.  Soon after achieving his black belt in Karate, he began training in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Patrick is currently holding a purple belt under Professor Rafael Olivera and trains out of Gracie Barra Chino.  In addition to training in jiu-jitsu, Patrick attends California State University Fullerton for his MBA.  He hopes to one day use his experience, education, and passion for martial arts to develop a rewarding career.

Twitter: @patjflores
Instagram: @patjflores @bjjfotos

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