What is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ)

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) is a grappling-based martial art whose central theme is the skill of controlling a resisting opponent in ways that force him to submit. Due to the fact that control is generally easier on the ground than in a standing position, much of the technique of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) is centered round the skill of taking an opponent down to the ground and wrestling for dominant control positions from where the opponent can be rendered harmless.

To control and overcome greater size, strength and aggression with lesser size and strength is the keynote of the sport. This is done by utilizing superior leverage, grip and position upon your opponent. Students of the sport gain a deep understanding of the workings and limits of the human body.

This knowledge can be used to subdue and control an opponent with whatever level of severity the student chooses. The path to this knowledge is physically and mentally demanding. Students benefit from greatly increased physical fitness, problem-solving ability, self-knowledge of their body and mind and the many social benefits of working within a large group of like-minded fellow students as you learn and have fun together.

Many students first learn about jiu jitsu through the great popularity of mixed martial arts (MMA) competition, where Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu technique is very prominent. Indeed, the beginnings of the contemporary MMA competition were largely tied up with proving the combat-efficiency of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. The practice of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu as a sport, however, is strongly separated from MMA. Daily classes do not feature kicking or punching. The focus is on safe grappling technique that can be done on a daily basis with no more fear of injury than any other contact sport. The great majority of students study only the grappling sport and find that this is the most enjoyable and satisfying route to take.

Classes feature a strength and endurance building warm-up, followed by demonstration and practice of techniques after which students engage in live wrestling with other students of their own level. It is a truly demanding workout with a strongly cerebral aspect and a sense of purpose and skill that will truly capture your imagination. Come down to the academy. Come take a look at a class or better yet, take one of the introduction classes. We are confident that jiu jitsu will become one of the most cherished and enjoyable aspects of your life. It will give you a confidence, knowledge and body-dexterity and fitness that few people will ever know.

- John Danaher
Renzo Gracie Black Belt / RGA Professor


Brief History Of Jiu Jitsu

In the last days of the 19th century, some Jiu-Jitsu masters emigrated from Japan to other continents, teaching the martial arts as well as taking part in fights and competitions. Mitsuyo Maeda was one such master. Maeda arrived in Brazil in 1915, and settled in Belem do Para, where he met a man named Gastao Gracie.

The father of eight children, among them five boys and three girls, Gastao became a Jiu-Jitsu enthusiast and brought his oldest son, Carlos, to learn from the Japanese master.

For a naturally frail fifteen-year old Carlos Gracie, Jiu-Jitsu became a method not simply for fighting, but for personal improvement. At nineteen, he moved to Rio de Janeiro with his family and began teaching and fighting. In his travels, Carlos would teach classes, and also proved the efficiency of the art by beating opponents who were physically stronger. In 1925, he returned to Rio and opened the first school, known as the "Academia Gracie de Jiu-Jitsu."

Jiu Jitsu promotes the concept that a smaller, weaker person can successfully defend against a bigger, stronger assailant by using leverage and proper technique.

A Message From The Founder of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Carlos Gracie

Jiu-Jitsu constitutes the natural defense the weak person disposes of against the strong person. It is a sort of leveling process through which brute force, confronted and dominated by the wise application of rational mechanics, is led to admitting that the human being, usually taken as a body endowed with a soul, should actually be deemed a soul that happens to reside in a body. This, however, no matter what our philosophical or religious orientation is, must never mean disregard or lack of attention towards the body we use in this world. We don’t understand, really, how, in order to reach wisdom, love, or in order to adore and serve God, respecting His laws, it can be necessary or possible to harm one of His most beautiful and perfect creatures.

If it is true that the disharmony in our thoughts and feelings can generate physical harm, it is no less true that the care we take with our body reflects not only on that body, but also on the mental health we all need to achieve a harmonious, happy life.

Of course one doesn’t need special abilities to master certain resources of Jiu-Jitsu, which allow us to defend efficiently. Let us not forget, notwithstanding, that, no matter what we look forward to, we will always have better chances of reaching it if we use our greatest spiritual and physical possibilities. Jiu-Jitsu, which cannot escape that peremptory rule, is nothing but its application in self-defense. Being, further, a sport, and indeed one of the most complete, how could it possibly turn its back on physical preparation?

Without health, in its whole meaning, there can be no complete happiness. Very often, however, instead of studying the laws we must respect in order to avoid diseases, we are more concerned about what is the proper medicine or process for repairing the consequences of our ignorance or conscious infractions.

It is illogical for man, who is the most perfect being to inhabit Earth, to have a shorter life than that of other animals. We are among those who fiercely believe we should live more than any irrational being. Therefore, if we compare the current average duration of the human life to that of the parrot’s, we don’t understand why, when one of us decides to live a hundred years, it is something so extraordinary. Imagine if, like any elephant or turtle, one of us happened to live until the age of two hundred!

However, as we see it, all that would be very normal if, throughout generations, with strange perseverance, we hadn’t been driving away from the natural laws.

Among other explanations, for instance, is nutrition. What do we really know about how, when, how much and what to eat in harmony with natural laws?

But let us stop here before, my dear reader, your tolerance goes away completely and you, with justifiable irony, ask: “And, by the way, what about Jiu-Jitsu?”

You are partially right. Due to the fact that it is, however, a difficult – if not impossible – task, in its amplitude, we won’t neglect our duty of warning you that wishing to know, exclusively by means of reading, the secrets of this traditional art of defense and attack is as efficient as studying singing by mail.

To you, friend and reader, my sincere thanks, and we’ll see each other again. If I didn’t succeed in pleasing you, at least I hope I didn’t totally disappoint you.

- Carlos Gracie
Founder of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu