The history of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) goes back through the Gracie family to their original teacher, Mitsuyo Maeda and his training in the Kodokan, the home of Judo, in the late 1800’s.
Maeda was trained by Judo’s founder, Kano Jigoro, and was one of the Kodokan’s five top groundwork experts sent abroad to demonstrate and spread Kano’s art to the world.
Maeda left Japan in 1904, visiting many countries and accepting challenges from fighters of various martial arts systems. He arrived in Brazil in 1914, where he was instrumental in establishing a Japanese immigrant community. Maeda’s efforts were aided by Gastao Gracie, a Brazilian scholar and politician. In return, Maeda taught Judo to Gastao Gracie’s eldest son, Carlos Gracie.
Carlos Gracie taught the art to his four brothers, who began to adapt the basic rules of Judo, eliminating the useless and refining the effective.
Helio Gracie, the youngest of the brothers, was naturally frail and, by doctor’s orders, was not able to participate in much of the Judo training. As he was unable to perform techniques that required much strength, Helio gradually developed Gracie Jiu-Jitsu as a softer, more pragmatic adaptation from Judo.
Helio introduced the application of leverage to the art, making it possible for a smaller opponent to defeat a larger one; and by modifying and enhancing the basic techniques, Jiu-Jitsu became effective for a person regardless of his or her stature.
This system focused on ground fighting, as opposed to Judo, which emphasized throwing techniques; and thus began the development of a new and more effective art – Gracie Jiu-Jitsu or popularly known as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Today, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has proven to be the most effective form of unarmed combat available. The current generations of the Gracie family have proven this in today’s Mixed Martial Art events and open challenge matches all over the world.
myBrazilian Jiu-Jitsu Academy is founded and directed by Professor Mario Yokoyama, who holds a third degree black belt under the late Ryan Gracie, Grandson of BJJ founder Carlos Gracie. Mario Yokoyama continues to promote and preserve the art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu through his International Team.