What is the history of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?

Some historians of Jiu-Jitsu say that the origins of “the gentle art” can be traced back to India, and was practiced by Buddhist Monks well before the time of Christ. Concerned with self-defense against highwaymen and other threats in their remote travels across their lands, these monks created techniques based upon principles of balance and leverage, and a system of manipulating the body in a manner where one could avoid relying upon strength or weapons. With the expansion of Buddhism, Jiu-Jitsu spread from Southeast Asia to China, finally arriving in Japan where it developed and gained further popularity.

In the last days of the 19th century, some Jiu-Jitsu masters emigrated from Japan to other continents, teaching the martial arts, as well as competing in ad hoc arranged fights and competitions. Esai Maeda Koma, also known as “Conde Koma,” was one such master. After traveling with a troupe which fought in various countries in Europe and the Americas, Koma arrived in Brazil in 1915, and settled in Belem do Para the next year, where he met a man named Gastao Gracie. The father of eight children, among them five boys and three girls, Gastao became a Jiu-Jitsu enthusiast and brought his oldest son, Carlos, to learn to fight from the Japanese master. For a naturally frail fifteen-year old Carlos Gracie, Jiu-Jitsu became a method not simply for fighting, but for personal improvement. At nineteen, he moved to Rio de Janeiro with his family and began teaching and competing in the martial arts. In his travels, Carlos would teach classes, and also proved the efficiency of the art by beating adversaries in competitions he arranged literally by running advertisements in the local paper taunting area “tough guys” ,who were more physically strong, to fight him. In 1925, he returned to Rio and opened the first school, known as the “Academia Gracie de Jiu Jitsu.”

Since that time, Carlos started to share his knowledge to his brothers, adapting and refining the techniques to the naturally weaker physical characteristics of his family’s members. But what truly made Carlos different, and ultimately what makes Gracie Jiu-Jitsu different was this expansion of what Gracie Jiu-Jitsu included which went beyond the techniques of self defense and into a holistic health regimen. Carlos instinctively knew that a healthy fighter was superior to a fighter who had an unhealthy diet. Carlos taught them his philosophies of life as well as his concepts of natural nutrition. Eventually, Carlos became a pioneer in creating this special diet for athletes, “The Gracie Diet,” which transformed Jiu-Jitsu into a term synonymous with health.

Having created an efficient self-defense system, Carlos Gracie saw in the art a way to become a man who was more tolerant, respectful, and self-confident. With a goal of proving Jiu-Jitsu’s superiority as well as to build a family tradition, Carlos challenged the greatest fighters of his time, as well as managing the fighting careers of his brothers. Fighting opponents fifty or sixty pounds heavier, the Gracies quickly gained recognition and prestige.

Attracted to the new market which was opened around Jiu-Jitsu, many Japanese practitioners came to Rio, but none were able to establish schools as successful as the Gracies. This was due to the fact that the Japanese stylists were more focused on takedowns and throws, and the Jiu-Jitsu the Gracies practiced had many more sophisticated ground fighting and submission techniques. Carlos and his brothers changed the techniques in such a way that it completely altered the complexion of the international Jiu-Jitsu principles. These techniques were so distinctive to Carlos and his brothers that the sport became attached to a national identity, and is now commonly known as “Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu,” practiced by artists all over the world, including Japan.

Is it a good workout?

Another understatement. Absolutely! Put it this way. People who run marathons and play football have been tested by the demands of the sport in Charles academy. Yet, the beauty of the Charles Gracie curriculum is the systematic increase over time in what is required of each student. In training Gracie Jiu-Jitsu students will get a full body aerobic workout. You will be using both the muscles of your arms, legs, torso and core in every class, as well as your mind. He has had many students that have lost weight, as well as quit smoking.

Two things can be said about joining any Charles Gracie Academy. The first is you will attain the highest form of physical conditioning all but a few dedicated athletes have attained. The second is that while you do, you will also learn how to defend yourself to a degree you never, ever, thought you could. More than one student has told Charles personally that they literally have exceeded all expectations they had upon entering. Gracie Jiu-Jitsu will make you the best that you can be.

Do I have to compete?

Yes and No! Whether you want to learn self-defense, get in shape, or become a world champion, all objectives for themselves in joining the academy that the students have are welcome. The most important thing for Charles is that all students learn the basic fundamental techniques of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. However, Gracie Jiu-Jitsu conveys benefits exercise classes’ don’t. The students ability to defend themselves and thus gain great self confidence and personal discipline while attaining better physical conditioning. As such nothing focuses the mind, the critical skill of functional intelligence, under pressure, than that encountered in competitions and tournaments.

From the days of Carlos and Helio to today’s ADCC champion Roger Gracie, the Gracie family has always actively competed in Jiu-Jitsu tournaments and mixed martial arts events. While the rules of a Jiu-Jitsu tournament or even a mixed martial arts event do not take into account all the variables that exist in a street fight, we recognize that these tournaments allow students the opportunity to test their skill while minimizing the risk of injury. Those students who want to test their Jiu-Jitsu proficiency will definitely be encouraged to enter Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and grappling tournaments if they also want to gain true higher levels of recognized proficiency in the art. Belt promotions in the Charles Gracie academy are not predicated on simple attendance. They occur when the student completes both the physical and well as the mental skills Gracie Jiu-Jitsu develops.

What makes the Charles Gracie Academy so special?

While some academies may promote their dojo master as someone who received his belt from a member of the Gracie Family; Charles teaching is what he learned firsthand from the Founders. The friendly, clean, and professional atmosphere provides a safe and supportive environment for students to learn. It is no surprise that students travel from far and wide to train at the Charles Gracie Academy.

Is there a difference between Gracie Jiu-Jitsu and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?

No. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is Gracie Jiu-Jitsu.

As far as the techniques everyone is now familiar with, that are associated with Jiu-Jitsu, perhaps the answer is no. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has, simply stated, become another term implying Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, the martial art developed by the Gracie family.

Can women learn?

Yes, is an understatement. Women’s student numbers are growing tremendously. Gracie Jiu-Jitsu is the most effective self-defense system by far, for women. All classes are co-ed and the academy offers a safe non-intimidating environment for women to learn. The growing numbers of female students insures that female students will frequently enjoy female training partners.

Are there classes for children?

The Charles Gracie Academy offers classes for children that are taught by Charles Gracie and qualified instructors staff personally trained by Charles Gracie. See our schedule for the specific times. The kids must be at least 4 years and older.

Is training safe?

Safety is always the greatest concern at the Charles Gracie academy. While accidental injuries may occur with any athletic activity, all training occurs in a controlled supervised environment. Neither Charles nor his instructors will tolerate any unnecessary roughness or unsportsmanlike behavior.

What should I expect when I join?

Many students join a Jiu-Jitsu academy expecting to be able to fight on day one. Reflecting on the tradition of his grandfather Carlos, his granduncle Helio, his father Robson, and his uncle Rolls Gracie, the culture of the Charles Gracie Academy takes a more patient approach. Charles is more concerned that new students learn the fundamental techniques of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu rather than beating someone in a sparring match. He believes that learning the basic techniques is essential for any student who wants to learn self-defense.

What if I never trained a martial art before?

The beauty of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu is that it works for everyone. Because of its emphasis on technique, this martial art has been proven to be effective even among people that are not naturally athletic, muscular or flexible. While it’s normal to assume that if you never participated in contact sports, or sports like gymnastics or wrestling, it’s too difficult to start now, or beyond your physical capabilities. In fact, the original mixed martial art events (including the UFC) were developed by the Gracie family in order to show how relatively small and skinny Gracie Jiu-Jitsu fighters could effectively defend themselves against bigger and stronger trained professional fighters and martial artists. Even today one can easily see the influence of Gracie Jiu Jitsu among the world’s best mixed martial artists.

What is Gracie Jiu-Jitsu?

Gracie Jiu-Jitsu is a self-defense system that was developed by The Gracie Family in Brazil in the 1920’s; initially what today is known as Gracie Jiu-Jitsu was begun by the founder Carlos Gracie, who was the family’s first student of a Japanese grappling master Esai Maeda Koma, also known as “Conde Koma”. Carlos Gracie was followed by his younger brother Helio, and finally Carlos’ son Rolls Gracie, who was a true innovator who proceeded to incorporate techniques from other martial arts into Jiu-Jitsu, and, in the process, constantly improving the initial body of techniques expanded by the Family members. Carlos was the first to realize the value and importance of the initial techniques and began the critical process of taking those basic Japanese techniques of hand to hand combat and opening the door to the possibility of dramatically expanding their capabilities and effectiveness. Carlos Gracie established many other peripheral aspects of the art later developed by other Family members, such as The Gracie Diet, a critical aspect of a total lifestyle of well being that is an equal part of the body of knowledge the Family ultimately developed. This comprehensive holistic art, comprising both self-defense and lifestyle, is what is known as Gracie Jiu-Jitsu and makes it very different from the original art of Japanese Jiu-Jitsu. The true purpose of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu focuses on techniques that will allow a person to defend them self against an attacker who may be bigger, stronger, and faster. Over the last 85 years, the techniques of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu have not stopped evolving. What started in an academy in Rio de Janeiro has now spread across the world. It is used by law enforcement agencies across the nation, and is taught to U.S. Special Forces in their study of hand-to-hand combat.