The History of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu: Part 1

Last updated on 05.05.2020 by

History is written by the victors. In this case, the victors are the Gracie family.

Rener Gracie, the man talking to us in the video, is an American based Jiu-Jitsu practitioner whose lineage is one generation removed from the founder, his grandfather, Helio Gracie. There’s a lot to be said about the history of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, but there’s no dispute as to what Mr. Helio Gracie has done for the art. The Gracie children had had the opportunity to be taught Judo. Helio wasn’t the only one who’d been taught. In fact, he wasn’t even the first. He’d learned what he learned from his brothers.

As Rener put it, Helio was weak as a child. He’d experience bouts of fatigue from taking the stairs. It looked like sport wasn’t for him. Nevertheless, circumstances were such that his brother was taken on as a student by one of the most reputable judoka of the time. Helio would take what was given to him both by nature and his brothers to create something of his own.

Much the same as Mr. Maeda had done before him, he’d beaten larger and more aggressive opponents with his jiu-jitsu, and where his brothers had chosen to pursue other ventures Helio devoted his life to Jiu-Jitsu, remaining a practitioner until his death in 2009.

Don’t get us wrong. One form of grappling or other has been around since humans have had arms and legs. However, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu stands apart from others because of its focus on ground fighting. Today it has grown further apart from Judo and wrestling in the rather systematic approach that its practitioners favor. The guard is something that stands in its own right. Even in Mixed Martial Arts, the jiu-jitsu guard is no joke. Where a striking based martial artist might use the guard to stall and get stood up a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner will attack relentlessly until he gets the finish off his back.