Carlos Gracie Sr. & Helio Gracie.

Carlos Gracie Sr. & Helio Gracie.

Mitsuyo Maeda.

Mitsuyo Maeda.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) is a martial art and combat sport that focuses on grappling and particularly ground fighting, with the main goal of submitting your opponent using joint locks and choke holds. BJJ promotes the principle that a smaller, weaker person can successfully defend themselves against a larger, stronger assailant using leverage and proper technique.

BJJ owes its beginnings to Carlos Gracie (and later Helio Gracie). Carlos was born in Brazil in 1901 and was of Scottish descent. Carlos began his jiu-jitsu training in 1917 under Mitsuyo Maeda, a famous Japanese Judo / Jiu-Jitsu champion, at the time living in Brazil.

GrandMaster Helio Gracie during a Vale Tudo match.

GrandMaster Helio Gracie during a Vale Tudo match.

The Machado Brothers: (L to R) Jean Jacques, John, Carlos, Roger & Rigan.

The Machado Brothers: (L to R) Jean Jacques, John, Carlos, Roger & Rigan.

In 1925 Carlos opened his own Jiu-Jitsu school where he and brother Helio quickly started to modify the techniques to better suit no rules fighting, known in Brazil as Vale Tudo.

Over the decades to come the Gracie family and later the Machado brothers, related by marriage, further developed the art through constant challenge matches and in the sporting arena. BJJ gained worldwide popularity in 1993 when Royce Gracie beat all comers in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, a form of no rules fighting held in a cage. It soon became obvious that to be an effective fighter you needed to know grappling. Ground fighting could no longer be ignored and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu was now a household name.