Brazilian Jiu Jitsu History


Like many other subjects in history, it would be impossible to accurately describe the origin of Jiu-Jitsu. However there is no lack of hypotheses. Every culture has some form of hand-to-hand combat in its history. Weaponless combat usually appears in forms of wrestling and, sometimes, boxing. Looking at a timeline of fighting, it is possible that the wrestling techniques of Jiu-Jitsu could have been influenced by Ancient Greece. The Olympic Games was a  Greek tradition. In fact one of its most popular sports, Pankration was a sport that involved both boxing and wrestling techniques and became more popular to the Greeks than each one of them individually. During Alexander the Great’s conquests (356 – 323 B.C.), he brought the Greek culture to the areas he conquered. His conquests stretched all the way to India, where he introduced the customs and ideals of Greek culture to the people of that area where Jiu-Jitsu’s foundation was likely to have been born.

The general idea embraced by most historians is that systemized martial arts techniques came from India along with Buddhism (Dharma). The concept here is that the Shaolin temple was built in the center of China and this is where Dharma introduced Buddhism to Boxing. Buddhist Monks in northern India are said to have greatly contributed to the early development of Jiu-Jitsu. Bandits constantly assaulted the monks during their long journeys through the interior of India. Buddhist religious and moral values did not encourage the use of weapons so they were forced to develop an empty hand system of self-defense.

These Monks were men of great wisdom who possessed a perfect knowledge of the human body. Consequently, they applied laws of physics such as leverage, momentum, balance, center of gravity, friction, weight transmission and manipulation of the human anatomy’s vital points in order to create a scientific art of self-defense.

Another version supports the idea of Jiu-Jitsu coming from China around the time of the fall of the Ming Dynasty, when a Chinese monk named Chin Gen Pinh came to Japan, with his knowledge and experience of Kempo, known as the “China Hand.” Another theory says that there were practitioners of Chikura Karube, a wrestling sport developed around 200 B.C. It is said that Chikura Karube later became Jiu-jitsu in Japan.

One thing is certain about these stories, and that is that the Japanese were responsible for refining a grappling art into a very sophisticated grappling system called Jiu-Jitsu during the Feudal period.


The period of Japanese history between the 8th and 16th centuries was covered with constant civil war and many systems of Jiu-Jitsu were utilized, practiced and perfected on the battlefield. This training was used to conquer armored and armed opponents.

It was originally an art designed for warfare, but after the abolition of the Feudal system in Japan, certain modifications needed to be made to the art in order to make it suitable for practice. During Feudal times, Jiu-Jitsu was also known as Yawara, Hakuda, Kogusoko, and an assortment of other names.

The earliest recorded use of the word “Jiu-Jitsu” happens in 1532 and is coined by Hisamori Tenenuchi when he officially established the first school of Jiu-Jitsu in Japan. The history of the art during this time is uncertain because teachers kept everything secret to give their art a feeling of importance and then would change the stories of their art to suit their own needs.

In approximately 1603, Japan began a fairly peaceful period following the formation of the Tokugawa military government by Tokugawa Ieyasu. During this time (1603-1868), the feudal civil wars that had plagued Japan for centuries started to disappear. However, following the adage “living in peace, but remembering war,” the traditions of classical budo (martial arts) required that everyone should learn a method of self-defense for those situations where weapons could not be used and thus the practice of Jiu-Jitsu continued to spread. Forms and techniques involving weapons gave way to weaponless styles which incorporated many of the grappling ground-fighting techniques of the older styles.


A Japanese immigrant called Mitsuyo Maeda, a judo expert and Student great master and judo founder Jigoro Kano.

Mitsuyo Maeda (前 田 光 世, Mitsuyo Maeda?) And Mitsuo Maeda (November 18 1878 – November 28 1941) was a Japanese judoka, also a wrestler and wrestling. He was nicknamed Conde Koma or Count Combat in Brazil, a nickname he acquired in Spain in the year 1908. His full name after his Brazilian citizenship was Otávio Mitsuyo Maeda. With Antônio Soishiro Satake, another Japanese naturalized Brazilian, he know judo in Brazil, UK, and other countries.

Mitsuyo Maeda change the course of martial arts forever. Child, he practices Tenshin Shinyo-ryu, one of many variations of the traditional Jujitsu found at that time in Japan. At the age of eighteen, his family sent him to school Senmon in Tokyo. according to official records, he began training in judo at the Kodokan in 1897. Maeda, all its fervor, each workout takes very seriously and is quickly becoming one of the most promising prospects driven by Jigoro Kano. The Kodokan masters provide him a great future judoka.En 1904 sensei Kano sent one of his best students, Tsunejiro Tomita in the US to make a judo demonstration before President Theodore Roosevelt. Mitsuyo Maeda is chosen to be his assistant. The demonstration they do at West Point Military Academy enthusiasm really do not spectateurs.En Indeed, the two judokas have katas, that is to say traditional combat training against imaginary opponents, that does not exist in the West.

Mitsuyo Maeda was of fundamental importance for the development of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu through his teaching. He was also a pioneer and promoter of Japanese emigration to Brazil. He won over 2000 professional fights in his career. It is now considered the father of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu.

Mitsuyo Maeda is known to have been the teacher of Carlos Gracie and therefore the initiator of the creation of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu (also known as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu). He entered the Kodokan during the period known as the “newaza revolution” during which judo was oriented strongly toward the newaza or ground fighting, following the guidelines of Fusen ryu jujutsu masters arrived at the Kodokan.

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Intro to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu: Part 1 — The History