274 Hunsberger Lane, Harleysville, PA 19438

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu History

Jiu-Jitsu, the oldest form of martial arts, originated in China.  It spread throughout China and eventually settled in Japan.

In 1914, Japanese jiu-jitsu champions Esai Maeda and Inomata arrived in Brazil to help establish a Japanese immigration colony in that developing country. He was aided by Gastao Gracie, a Brazilian scholar and politician of Scottish decent. To show his gratitude, the oriental master taught the basic secrets of that ancient fighting style to Gastao’s son, Carlos Gracie.

Carlos taught Maeda’s techniques to his brothers: Oswaldo, Gastao, Jorge and Helio and in 1925 they opened the first jiu-jitsu Academy in Botafogo, a district of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Helio, the youngest brother, who due to his frail health was forbidden from doing any kind of physical activity, got involved in this martial art at the age of 16 when he began substitute teaching for his brother Carlos. In spite of his small frame and weight of only 140 pounds, he became the mastermind behind the development of the style, creating an art that depended entirely upon technique, rather than strength and speed.

Helio went a step further than his teachers by introducing techniques that required less strength than the Japanese style. Led by him, the brothers were driven by a constant determination to find effective ways to deal with the very possible aspect of a real fight. Daring to break away from the traditional Japanese style, they began experimenting, modifying and perfecting simple techniques that would be effective regardless of stature. That is how the Gracie family developed this style of Jiu-Jitsu. Though this martial art descended from the ancient Japanese style, the differences are quite apparent. Many of the Japanese facets of the art which depended on physical prowess and stiff motion were tossed aside, leaving only pure technique.

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