Gracie Jiu Jitsu is a martial art that enables practitioners to use their LEVERAGE to apply techniques, manoeuvres and counters on an opponent, in order to gain a physical advantage. Its origins stem from the Japanese Kodokan Judo which was introduced to the Gracie family in Brazil by Master Mitsuyo Maeda in the early 1900’s. Maeda was fundamental to the development of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, specifically his teaching of Carlos Gracie. Carlos Gracie, after learning the martial art opened the Academia Gracie and started to teach the art. Carlos’ younger brother Helio later took up the art, and shortly thereafter, took over the running of the academy.
Helio Gracie realised that even though he knew the techniques theoretically, the moves were much harder to execute. Many of the judo moves required brute strength which did not suit his small stature. Consequently, he began adapting judo for his particular physical attributes (he never weighed more than 63kg) and through trial and error learned to maximize leverage, thus minimizing the force exerted to execute a technique. From these experiments, Gracie Jiu-Jitsu (later known as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu) was created. Using these new techniques, smaller and weaker practitioners gained the capability to defend themselves and defeat much larger opponents.
BJJ promotes the concept that a smaller, weaker person can successfully defend against a bigger, stronger assailant by using leverage and proper technique and taking the fight to the ground – most notably by applying joint-locks and chokeholds to defeat the other person. 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 of life.