History

The Jiu Jitsu origins

Jiu Jitsu’s Birth in Brazil

The history of Jiu Jitsu in Brazil mainly derives from one man, Mitsuyo Maeda – known in Brazil as Conde Coma (Count Coma). Maeda was a student of Jigoro Kano and his Kodokan School of martial arts. Though Kano is widely recognized as the father of Judo, his style of teaching was regarded in the early days as a branch of Ju Jitsu and not it’s own martial style. In fact, Jigoro’s branch of Ju Jitsu has been diluted from its original format over the years by consistent changes to Judo’s rules and regulations.

The history of Jiu Jitsu in Brazil mainly derives from one man, Mitsuyo Maeda – known in Brazil as Conde Coma (Count Coma). Maeda was a student of Jigoro Kano and his Kodokan School of martial arts. Though Kano is widely recognized as the father of Judo, his style of teaching was regarded in the early days as a branch of Ju Jitsu and not it’s own martial style. In fact, Jigoro’s branch of Ju Jitsu has been diluted from its original format over the years by consistent changes to Judo’s rules and regulations.

Mitsuyo Maeda was one of Jigoto Kano’s star pupils, and as such he was asked to help spread the word of his master’s style. Maeda travelled all over the globe displaying the art in arenas and circuses, travelling through the United States, England and many other countries before landing in Brazil. It was in Brazil that he met students such Carlos Gracie. Carlos was a troubled teenager that Maeda took under his wing and taught his style, though Carlos wasn’t the only student taught by Count Coma, nor was he the only one to develop his own Jiu Jitsu School, one other student of Maeda also spread his seed into Jiu Jitsu’s landscape, Luis França. There were other Japanese Jiu Jitsu masters teaching Jiu Jitsu in Brazil who were lesser known, though still relevant to BJJ today, people like Takeo Iano in the North of Brazil and Kazuo Yoshida in Bahia.

The Importance of the Gracie’s in Jiu Jitsu

Carlos Gracie was taught by Master Maeda in the city of Belém do Pará in Brazil, but due to financial difficulties moved to Rio de Janeiro. Mituyo Maeda also moved away returning sometime after to establish a school where his lineage is still very much alive, though he never to see Carlos again. In Rio de Janeiro, 1925 Carlos established his first school of Jiu Jitsu in the Marques de Abrantes Street, number 106. To help out with the school he brought in his brothers and taught them his master’s art. The brothers were: OswaldoGeorgeGastão and Hélio Gracie. Carlos and his brothers would go on to promote their academy through a series of challenges, some with no rules, where they would fight men of any size or weight proving their style’s superiority.

Though Helio became possibly the most famous family member of the Gracie brothers, it was George Gracie the one that held the family’s name highest competitively from that first generation of Gracie combatants. Helio Gracie did compete successfully also, but his two most famous fights were also his worst defeats, to Masahiko Kimura and Waldemar Santana, two fights he lost when he was already reaching his 40’s against bigger and younger men.

As Carlos Gracie got more involved with the business side of the family and George’s wild ways separated him from his brothers chain of thought, it was Helio that took responsibility in keeping the school a tight unit. Helio Gracie was also given the responsibility of raising most of Carlos Gracie’s household, teaching them the family martial arts trade. Since the 1920’s the Gracie family has been able to produce consistent talent through every generation, making it one of the strongest martial arts lineages in the world and the strongest amongst Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.