Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

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From The Martial Arts Encyclopedia


Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, sometimes also known as Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, was created in the early 20th century. Mitsuyo Maeda, a recent immigrant to Brazil, befriended Gastão Gracie, a local businessman of some influence, and used his help to establish himself in Brazil. In return, Maeda taught Gracie's sons a martial art he referred to as “Jiu-Jitsu.” Exactly what or how much he taught them is unclear. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu was introduced to mainstream American culture via Rorion Gracie who established the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy in Torrance California. Ronion's younger brother, Royce Gracie, brought this art to widespread public attention when he used it to win the Ultimate Fighting Championship on three separate occasions: Once in 1993 and twice in 1994. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has been, and still is, a staple of martial art culture in South America for decades prior to its "formal introduction to the American public in 1993. Since 1993 Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu's popularity in the North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia has increased dramatically, and a relatively large tournament subculture has sprung into existence.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu's focus centers around two areas: Sport and Self Defense. There is some controversy about this topic. Regardless of use, the oft quoted mantra of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is "Position before Submission". Specifically, the unique unifying theme of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu as a martial art has remained the same: Use leverage and momentum to gain an advantageous position over an opponent, and then finish the fight or match with a choke, joint lock, or other submission.


Striking: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu does not place much emphasis on striking. Some schools place more emphasis on this aspect than others, and cross-training in complementary striking arts is almost universally encouraged.

Grappling: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu focuses almost entirely upon this aspect. Different schools place varying emphasis on takedowns and clinchwork. Cross-training is encouraged in these areas. All Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu schools place extremely heavy emphasis upon groundwork.

Weapons: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu does very little if any, weapons training.


Most Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu schools train regularly with a gi. Costs are varying, as gis range in price from $40-$200+. Suggested additional gear often includes: mouth guard, athletic cup, rashguard, and board shorts.

The Good

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is widely recognized as having the most developed groundwork in martial arts today. The basic groundwork is highly recommended for self defense. Cross-training in other martial arts is highly encouraged. Progression through the ranks is generally based upon ability to perform against live, resisting opponents. A Black Belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is an almost universal indicator of expert proficiency in groundwork.

The Bad

There is no consistent syllabus for belt progression. Training costs can be high. Some schools place no emphasis upon takedowns and clinchwork. Qualified instructors are not available everywhere.

The Ugly

Ringworm. Impetigo. MRSA/Staph. NASCAR-like Gis. Bad mouthing of other BJJ Blackbelts by people both within and outside the extended Gracie family. Attempts by BJJ Blackbelts who should know better to create "bolt on" crappling programs for Krotty schools, thus encouraging Ronald McSensei to teach "crappling" (bad grappling) to his students when he doesn't even have legitimate blue belt level skills. See

The Bottom Line

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu comes highly recommended for individuals looking for self-defense skills, a sport to play, or even physical fitness.

Panel Analysis

Skill Ratings

0 none, 10 superior

Kicking 2
Punching 2
Weapons 0
Throwing 4
Groundfighting 10
Competition focus 9
Practical use 9

Bullshido Ratings

0 none, 10 extreme

McDojo Level 5
Bullshido Level 1