Unearthing The Origins & History Of BJJ

The history of BJJ is one that is not to be skipped out on. BJJ is one of the world’s fastest-growing martial arts that has incorporated all ages, walks of life, and reasons behind starting the sport that ranges anywhere from fun, fitness, stress relief, defense, and community. The history of BJJ is a little more complex - which isn’t a bad thing.

The Japanese Roots

The story of BJJ begins in Japan, known as the Samurai years. The Japanese samurai developed jiu-jitsu as a line of defense if they found themselves disarmed. Even with intense gear, Jiu-Jitsu branched off into a number of different styles that shifted from combat defense to general defense.

The Judo Link

Judo and Jiu-jitsu are both branches on the same tree that share a common origin / techniques. Judo is predominantly 90% standing and 10% on the ground while Jiu-Jitsu is opposite - 90% ground technique and 10% standing. Both Judo and Jiu-Jitsu are intertwined with each other and trace back to traditional Japanese Jujitsu. BJJ incorporates Judo technique - which means that if someone practices BJJ then they will most likely know a few things about Judo. However, if someone practices Judo they may not know how to finish the fight on the ground.

In the late 1800s, Jigoro Kano Mitsuyo Maeda began training at the Kodokan in 1894 and became a top student. Maeda emigrated to Brazil in 1914 and taught local politician, George Gracie’s son, Carlos Gracie, Jiu-Jitsu as a token of his gratitude. This led to Gracie sharing this with his brothers and opening a Jiu-Jitsu school in Brazil - the birth of BJJ. 

The Gracie family tested the art of BJJ and evolved different aspects of other sports such as wrestling into technique/curriculum. With the help and dedication to the sport, the Gracie family created BJJ into its own defined combat sport.

The Gracie Family

Carlos is responsible for passing on the knowledge he learned from Maeda to the rest of the Gracie family. Helio, Carlos’ younger brother, stood out among the other brothers for being the smallest and least athletic. However, Helio became the most famous brother as he continued on the legacy of running the school his brother had started and spreading knowledge. A lot of thanks and credit still goes towards Helio and the rest of the Gracie family in regards to BJJ.


The 1990s marked the beginning of major Jiu-Jitsu championships that would bring together some of the top talent in the world.  In the early 1990s, Royce Gracie won the first, second, and fourth Ultimate Fight Championship (UFC). BJJ has since been a prominent fighting style throughout the world. The 1990s was the true beginning of BJJ becoming a staple fighting style, especially one for MMA fighters to train (at some capacity).

What's the difference between BJJ & Jiu Jutsu

It is very common to mix BJJ and Jujutsu. Some of it can come down to wording and pronunciation; however, there are some major differences. People are much more familiar with BJJ due to its popularity in MMA competitions, yet Jujutsu can be out on its own. Japanese Jujutsu is more suitable for real-life combat situations as well as centered in discipline / traditions. BJJ is primarily used for sport and focused on grappling. This means that some of the techniques used in BJJ may not be as applicable for real life situations as Jujutsu.

Interested in learning BJJ?

TBC honors that incredible knowledge and skill that can be learned through BJJ. We have crafted a full understanding of the incredible art that is BJJ. We focus on power and stamina through grasping flexibility, core strength, grappling, and leveling up your mental game. Strength training and self-defense come together alongside award-winning coaches. Call your location to hit the mats!


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