History of Jiu-Jitsu. The art of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu was first introduced to the United States by the legendary Gracie family in the early 1990’s, after more than half a century of development and refinement in Brazil. Since its introduction, it has become one of the fastest growing and most popular martial arts not only in the US but in the world as well. The exponential growth of the art is attributed to the fact that Gracie Jiu-Jitsu has been proven to be an extremely effective self-defense system that can be safely practiced by anyone regardless of age, gender or athletic ability. What makes it different and so accessible is the fact that it is based on the principles of balance, timing and leverage rather than speed or strength.
Practitioners are also drawn to the benefits of jiu-jitsu that carry over beyond the self-defense aspect. The practice of jiu-jitsu promotes a healthy and active lifestyle that naturally extends to and ultimately compliments everyday life. Gracie Jiu-Jitsu teaches humility, respect and social responsibility as some of its core principles. In addition, other benefits of training jiu-jitsu are psychological, as students learn how to remain calm and find solutions to challenging situations through regular training and proper understanding of technique. This capability to remain calm in difficult situations carries over to life outside of jiu-jitsu and provides the self-confidence needed for decision making and problem solving in places like school or the office. Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, when taught by a certified and experienced instructor, can impact an individual on several levels and has changed the lives of many throughout the world. Regardless of profession or age, Gracie Jiu-Jitsu has the ability to help people set and meet goals and face everyday life with a greater sense of well-being, the anxious become calmer, the timid develop a stronger sense of courage and self-confidence. Of course the benefits of exercise on health conditions such as high blood pressure or cholesterol are well documented. Experiencing pure Gracie Jiu-Jitsu is truly a life-altering experience and one which may very well save your life.
LX Jiu-Jitsu’s objective is to share Jiu-Jitsu with the community as intended by Grand Master Helio Gracie. It is a complete self-defense system that can benefit anyone regardless of age, gender, or athletic ability. The Jiu-Jitsu that taught and practiced in our school is ideal for people who wish to learn a highly technical style focused towards improving the overall quality of our students’ lives. Our classes take place in a traditional, family-friendly environment where proper etiquette, discipline, respect and friendship are essential components of the lessons.
According to the late Grand Master Helio Gracie, “the roots of the jiu-jitsu tree were said to have originated in the mountains of India 2500 years ago. They supposedly stretched throughout China, and about 400 years ago settled in Japan where they found the soil to grow strong.” In Japan the traditional Japanese style Jiu-Jitsu, or jujutsu, flourished during the Japanese feudal time-period and was used by the Samurai in battle when weapon use was not feasible and hand-to-hand combat was the only option
At the turn of the 19th century with the fall of feudal Japan and the end of the Samurai, the techniques of the Samurai were refined to become Kodokan Judo by Jigoro Kano in 1882. Kano was a visionary who adapted the form of jujutsu he learned to include more randori, or “live sparring”. Kano also saw a lack of cohesiveness in the feudal arts, which is something else his concept of judo (‘Ju’ meaning “Gentle”, and ‘Do’ meaning “Way”) sought to address. He adapted and combined the ideas that he felt worked from all the different schools where he studied to create the first successful offspring of Japanese Style Jiu-Jitsu: Kodokan Judo. Judo would eventually gain such notoriety and mainstream acceptance that it would be included as an Olympic sport.
One of Jigoro Kano’s most talented students was a martial artist named Mitsuyo Maeda, also known as Count Koma, CondeKoma, and Count Kombat. In addition to being a talented martial artist, Maeda was also one of the people sent by Japan’s emperor to aid with establishing a Japanese immigration colony in Brazil. Grand Master Helio Gracie states in his book Gracie Jiu-Jitsu that his father, Gastao Gracie, a Brazilian businessman and politician, extended his influence to help Maeda in his colonization efforts; in return, Maeda taught Gastao’s oldest son Carlos the art of judo. This is of particular noteworthiness, because at this time it was not an accepted practice amongst the Japanese to teach Japanese martial arts to westerners. Grand Master Carlos Gracie started to learn judo from Maeda in 1917, judo as an art was barely 35 years old.
Helio Gracie, an asthmatic child, stopped attending school in the second grade because of the frailty of his health. He was the only one of the five Gracie brothers not allowed to participate in training or teaching judo at Carlos’ academy. It is only by fate and chance that Carlos would run late for an appointment one day and his 16-year-old brother, Helio, would offer to teach the private lesson the student had scheduled with Carlos. The student was so pleased with Helio’s depth of knowledge and teaching style that at the end of the lesson, the student requested to continue his studies through Helio, not Carlos, from then on. This day marks the inadvertent birth of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, created by the Gracie’s smallest member. Due to Grand Master Helio’s health issues as a child, the techniques he learned from his brother, who was trained as a judoka, were a challenge to execute since judo was designed to take advantage of speed, strength and explosiveness. Helio’s body type (5’6”, 140 lbs.), coupled with his competitive drive, genius and resiliency forced him to adapt the movements to his capabilities and lead him to base Gracie Jiu-Jitsu on the principles of leverage, momentum and good technique which were accessible to everyone.
Grand Master Helio Gracie would spend the rest of his life developing refining the principles of the martial arts system that he created: Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. His brothers learned and assimilated his adaptations to Carlos’ judo and they all dedicated the rest of their lives to developing the art that revolutionized the way we look at combat sports today. A lifetime of careful study, experimentation, trial-and-error and battle testing had lead Helio, assisted by his family, to create one of the fastest growing and most widely recognized self-defense systems known to date. It is important to note that Helio Gracie followed the blueprint of Kano’s success in order to create a new and exciting martial art. Kano took all the ideas and techniques he felt would work from jujutsu and adapted them to his teaching philosophy and style. Helio would then do the same to the judo his older brother Carlos learned from Count Koma. By adapting judo to shift the focus from speed and explosiveness to timing and leverage; Helio created a way for physically weaker people to be able to apply the techniques successfully. Gracie/Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is the evolution of judo, which in turn came from traditional jujutsu. All three terms are mutually exclusive and though elements of the original two systems are present in Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, it is a freestanding martial art.
For a timeline-based presentation, please see the link on the Jiu-Jitsu Global Federation website, which carries the evolution and application of the art into today’s MMA and No Holds Barred combat contests. You will note that often times the jiu-jitsu practitioner is much smaller than their opponent yet somehow seems to control the fight; this is proof of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu’s real life practicality.
Contact us to learn more about how Gracie Jiu-Jitsu can help save your life!