Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, can trace its roots back to Japan, where the art of Judo was created. Judo was formed from japanese jitsu which was used on the feudal battlefields. Judo was mainly created by Jigoro Kano, who wanted to create an art that could be practiced without resulting in severe injuries. Many of the battlefield techniques were removed and Judo was created. Kano, adopted a way for participants to practice at full effort, while not permanently injuring competitors. This form of open sparring is known as Randori.
Esai Maeda, was a student of Kano, and had emigrated to Brazil to establish an Japanese Immigration colony. He was aided by Gastao Gracie, a Brazilian of Scottish descent. To show gratitude to Gracie for his help in the colonization, Maeda taught Gastao's son Carlos the basic techniques of Jiu-Jitsu. Carlos then passed on the knowledge to his brothers Oswaldo, Jorge, Gastao, and Helio.
As the story goes, Helio Gracie was a small and frail individual, who was always sitting at the side as his brothers taught Jiu Jitu. One day his brothers didn't show up to teach a class and Helio stepped in taught the class. The next day when the brothers returned, they were told by the students that they wanted Helio to train them. He had been studying the techniques from afar and had developed them to work on leverage and not strength. Even with his smaller body he was able to defeat opponents many times larger than him.
Helio would go on to open his own academy in 1940, located in Rio. The popular Gracie Jiu Jitsu academies were very popular and over the next 18 years, the four different locations in Rio would see over 2000 students come through there doors. The Gracie academies were not that the only places to train in judo or jiu jitsu in Brazil, but they were the most successful. With the growth of the sport Helio Gracie created the first federation of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in 1967. It was from this Federation that the belt systems for students was established. More federations would be created in later years, most importantly Carlos Gracie Jr. created the Confederacao Brasiliera in 1993. This federation had the idea of creating a world championship (the Mundials).
The art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu was virtually unknown in north america. This would change with the creation of the Ultimate Fighting Championship in 1993. A one night tournament would pit different martial arts disciplines against one another. Helio Gracies son Royce would be chosen to represent the art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Royce dominated the competition and the art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu was introduced to the masses.
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