MITSUYO MAEDA: The Origin of BJJ

In Articles, BJJ Lifestyle, Videos by Bojan

 

The Origin of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Just a couple of years short of a century ago, there’d been no such thing as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. There was only Judo: something that belongs in Japan. You’d be wondering right now: how’d this piece of Japan find itself in the middle of Brazil?

Times were such that many people sought their fortune across the seas. One such man was Mitsuyo Maeda: a practitioner of Judo who’d developed his own philosophy and approach which leaned towards ‘Kosen’. ‘Kosen’ was, or rather is, a branch of judo whose practitioners would rather pull guard than look for trips and takedowns. This, however, wasn’t the only thing that made Maeda different. Where his master and founder of Judo, Jigoro Kano, believed in the teaching of patterned movements called Kata, Mr. Maeda would rather that the art be practiced against resisting force. This would eventually find its way into the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu of today where rank is earned by proving yourself in competition.

Mr. Maeda had made his living by means of Judo demonstrations and prize fighting. This was frowned upon by his master and peers. Not unlike the way that Royce Gracie would do much later, he’d beaten people much bigger than him with little effort. Audiences were amazed. He’d gotten the nickname Mr. Impossible.

An extraordinary man who’d traveled the world, Mitsuyo Maeda found his way to Brazil in 1914. He soon developed a relationship with a Brazilian politician whose sons you’d have to have heard of: Carlos and Helio Gracie. At the time, Carlos, the elder, was fourteen.  He would take what he’d been taught and then teach it to his brothers. Maeda’s approach and even prize fighter trait would become a characteristic of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

The Gracie brothers adopted the art. The rest is history.