Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is referred to as the gentle art. This martial art has exploded in popularity and is one of the most practiced martial arts in the world. It is regarded as one of the most effective self defense systems one can learn.
In this article, we’re going to let you know everything about the martial art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Everything from it’s history, what BJJ is, the benefits of this martial art and what equipment you need for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
The story of Jiu Jitsu started a little over a 100 years ago. A Judo practitioner named Mitsuyo Maeda made his way to Brazil. Maeda was under orders from his master, the creator of Judo, Master Jigoro Kano ordered some of his best students to go around the world and spread the teachings of Judo.
Maeda or Conde Koma(Count Combat) as he was called in Brazil and Spain made his way to Brazil around 1914 after helping spread Judo in the UK. There was another credited creator of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu named Geo Omori that actually opened the first Jiu Jitsu/Judo school in Brazil in 1925.
The most publicised origin of BJJ is with Maeda and the Gracie family, so we’ll detail that story. When Maeda came to Brazil, he befriended a Brazilian politician named Gastao Gracie that helped him become a naturalized citizen and organize Judo demonstrations
After a demonstration at the Da Paz Theatre in Belem, Brazil, Gastao’s son Carlos was in attendance and became his student for a few years.
Carlos then showed his brother Helio some of the techniques Maeda showed him. Helio was small in stature and couldn’t do many of the Judo techniques that required strength and agility he did not have.
So with the help of Carlos, Helio began altering the techniques to benefit his size. The techniques he and his brother created are what would later be called Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu was designed for smaller people to use leverage and body positioning against bigger opponents to control and submit them. For years the brothers began honing and developing their techniques taking on other martial artists in bouts that were known as Vale Tudo to show the effectiveness of their fighting system.
Their style of BJJ was known as Gracie Jiu Jitsu. For decades they and their family members continued developing techniques for their style.
Spread of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Around The World
What helped start the spread of Jiu Jitsu was when Helio’s son Rorion moved to the United States in the mid 70’s. Rorion began teaching students out of his garage and worked in movie studios to supplement his income.
Eventually he was able to open the first Gracie Jiu Jitsu Academy in Torrance, California. Later the academy would release a series of tapes called “Gracie Jiu Jitsu In Action.”
In these tapes you would see students use their techniques against other martial artists that would come to the gym and challenge them. Later Rorion met a promoter and got the idea to spread Gracie Jiu Jitsu by promoting a contest, where martial artists of all styles would come and fight.
This would be called the “Ultimate Fighting Championship.” The Gracie family chose Rorion’s younger brother Royce to represent Gracie Jiu Jitsu in the contest.
In the contest, Royce beat opponents easily twice his size with ease using Jiu Jitsu. This was the beginning of the explosion of Jiu Jitsu and it started making its way around the world.
What Do You Do In Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?
In Jiu Jitsu, the objectives are to do three things.
- Get your opponent to the ground.
- Control them on the ground.
- Submit them.
You grapple with your opponent to do one or more of the objectives. If you’re able to do #3 and submit them this means you win.
Positions of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
Here are the list of positions that are in the martial art of Jiu Jitsu
- Standing: The match or roll starts standing and your objective again is to get your opponent to the ground. You o this be either getting a takedown or pulling guard.
- Guard: This is where you are on your back with your legs around your opponent. From here you try to submit or sweep your opponent. Variations of this guard include half guard, quarter guard, butterfly guard, spider guard, lasso guard, z guard, etc. If you’re in the opponent’s guard, your objective is to get out and work to submit them.
- Sidemount/Side Control: This is one of the dominant positions in Jiu Jitsu. From here you can transfer over to mount, knee on belly, or work a submission from here. Popular submissions from here include keylock, armbar, kimura, and arm triangle
- Mount: One of the most dominant positions in mount(worst if you’re on bottom). In competition getting here is worth 4 points. You can either stay here and control the opponent or try to submit them.
- Back Mount: This is where you are controlling an opponent from their back. Also worth 4 points and usually a choke is implemented to finish a match.
- North/South: This position is where you control an opponent or are transitioning to another position. A popular choke from here can be done by the same name, the north/south choke.
Rules Of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
The rules of Jiu Jitsu are as follows.
- No Striking: In Jiu Jitsu, there is no striking allowed when rolling unless it is an MMA class. It is strictly a grappling only martial art and there is not striking allowed in classes or competitions.
- No Eye Gouging: No sticking your fingers into the eyes or any other orifices of your training partners or opponents.
- No Grabbing Fingers or Toes: You are not allowed to grab single digits of your fingers/toes and bend them. Wrist locks and toe holds are allowed, but yo must be grabbing at least 3 digits.
- No Slamming: In competition and most classes, you are not allowed to pick up your opponent/training partner and slam them to the mat.
- Submit Your Opponent: You win in Jiu Jitsu by submitting your opponent/training partner. Submissions include chokes and bending the limbs of your opponent/training partner
Benefits Of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
Participating in Jiu Jitsu has numerous benefits for you. Here is a list of the benefits that come with practicing Jiu Jitsu.
- Health: Your health will increase dramatically from participating in Jiu Jitsu. You will lose weight, feel better, and most likely lose ailments that come from being inactive.
- Self Defense: Everyone needs to know how to defend themselves. Jiu Jitsu is one if not the most effective martial art on the planet. You will learn to subdue attackers and be able to defend yourself against people twice your size.
- Make Friends: Practicing Jiu Jitsu means that you will be apart of the BJJ community. Your training partners and coaches will be some of the best friends you’ll ever have. Some academies feel like a big family and you can be a part of that.
- Have A New Passion: Once you start training Jiu Jitsu, you can get the bug for it and it can become a big passion in your life. You’re going to always want to be on the mat training and getting better.
- It Can Make You A Happier Person: For some, Jiu Jitsu is like therapy for them. No matter what problems they have, they seem to go away once they get on the mat. It has the ability to make you a happier person.
When To Start Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?
The beautiful thing about Jiu Jitsu is it is for everyone. You can start anytime you feel the urge to begin your training. It doesn’t matter if you’re a kid or an adult in your later years.
Once you get the bug to train Jiu Jitsu, you’ll never want to miss a class. No matter what age you are, you can start training.
How Is Progress Is Measured In Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
Progress in Jiu Jitsu is measured just like it is in other martial arts with belts. These belts measure your level from beginner to expert. Here is the belting system for adults below and a possible time frame for each one.
- White Belt: The first belt in the Jiu Jitsu journey. This marks you as a beginner just learning the basics of the martial art.
- Blue Belt: It takes 1-3 years to earn the blue belt. By having this belt, you have shown to understand the basics of Jiu Jitsu and can demonstrate basic techniques.
- Purple Belt: From blue belt it takes around 2-4 years to earn a purple belt. At this point you understand Jiu Jitsu concepts and can start building your own BJJ game. To some BJJ veterans this is the most important belt, because you’re in between being a beginner and being an expert. You’re almost to the top belts, but need to put in more work.
- Brown Belt: After purple belt, you are awarded the rank of brown belt. A brown belt is basically an unpolished black belt. With just a few more years of work on your BJJ game, you will become a black belt.
- Black Belt: After years of work, a BJJ practitioner earns the rank of black belt. It is the end of your initial BJJ journey and the also the beginning of your new BJJ journey. As a new black belt, your BJJ game will continue to evolve as you discover and practice new techniques.
The average time from white belt to black belt in BJJ is about 8-10 years. Although, this is just an average time frame. It can be shorter and longer depending on a number of scenarios. Whether you train more, train less, compete more, or are naturally talented at the martial art.
What equipment do you need for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?
Here is a list of things you will need for Jiu Jitsu class:
Gi/Kimono: If you’re doing gi Jiu Jitsu, you are going to need a BJJ gi/kimono. It is a sturdy coat and pants used in the martial art similar to a Judo gi, but with longer sleeves. I’ve given my views on different Gis in this article.
Bottle of Water: Jiu Jitsu is a hard workout, so you’ll need to stay hydrated. Bring a container of water to drink in between rounds of rolling.
Mouthpiece/Gum Protector: A mouthpiece is optional, but if you want your teeth to be protected, you need a mouthpiece. There’s no strikes in BJJ, but accidents happen and you may sometimes take an elbow or knee to the mouth. It’ll save you from paying a hefty fee for dental work. I’ve written an article on the types of mouthguard available.
Tape: Jiu Jitsu takes a toll on your fingers and you may sometimes injure a toe. Have some tape handy to wrap up your injured limbs to stabilize them and keep rolling. Here’ s an example of great tape to use (link to Amazon).
Rash Guard: A rash guard is used for both gi and no gi Jiu JItsu: It is the same texture as a wetsuit and what you wear during training. The rash guard is basically a sturdy shirt that absorbs sweat and better than using a regular shirt that’ll get ruined after multiple uses in class. Here’s an example (link to Amazon).
Shorts: If you’re doing no gi Jiu Jitsu, then you’ll need shorts. There are board shorts specifically made for MMA and BJJ available for you to purchase for training.
Bag: You will either need a gym bag or backpack to keep all your gear in and transport it to class. Here’s an example of a decent bag (link to Amazon).
Anti Bacterial Spray: After you train be sure to spray down your gym bag when you remove your sweaty BJJ clothes. Bacteria that can cause infections can grow in your bag and gear if you do not take care of it.
This just about sums up everything you need to know about Jiu Jitsu. We listed the history, rules, and benefits of this martial art. Hopefully this article will convince you to take up Jiu Jitsu and make it a positive part of your life.
Jiu Jitsu: Self Defense & Competition