July 5, 2024

The Evolution of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) is a martial art and combat sport that emphasizes ground fighting and submission holds. Originating from Judo and traditional Japanese Jiu-Jitsu, BJJ has evolved significantly over the past century.

Origins and Early Development

Judo and Japanese Jiu-Jitsu

  • Judo's Influence: Jigoro Kano, the founder of Judo, had a profound influence on the development of BJJ.
  • Japanese Masters: Mitsuyo Maeda, a Judo master, brought the art to Brazil, where it began to transform.

The Gracie Family

  • Carlos Gracie: Learned from Maeda and began teaching and refining techniques.
  • Helio Gracie: Adapted techniques to suit his smaller frame, emphasizing leverage over strength.

The Growth of BJJ in Brazil

Founding of Academies

  • Gracie Academy: Established as the central hub for BJJ training.
  • Spread Across Brazil: Other families and students started their own schools, further spreading the art.

The Birth of Competitions

  • Vale Tudo Fights: Early no-holds-barred fights demonstrated BJJ’s effectiveness.
  • Sport BJJ: Formalized rules and competitions emerged, making BJJ a competitive sport.

Global Expansion

Introduction to the United States

  • UFC and Royce Gracie: Royce Gracie’s success in the early UFCs showcased BJJ to a global audience.
  • BJJ Academies Worldwide: BJJ schools began popping up across the globe, spreading the art to millions.

Modern Innovations

  • Gi and No-Gi: The development of both traditional (Gi) and modern (No-Gi) styles.
  • Influence of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA): BJJ remains a fundamental aspect of MMA training.


From its humble beginnings in Japan and Brazil to its current status as a global phenomenon, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu continues to evolve. Its emphasis on technique and leverage over brute strength ensures its relevance and appeal across generations.