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The art taught by Miura was named wa (which is equivalent to yawara), and the art taught by Terada was named ju (which is equivalent to jujutsu)...

 What is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) is a martial art that focuses on ground grappling. BJJ answers the questions of how to deal with someone who is punching and/or kicking you, what to do to take someone down, how to react if someone takes you down, and what to do once you are on the ground. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu effectively addresses how to handle what happens in over 95% of all real hand to hand combat situations, according the United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation, the fight goes to the ground.

How does Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu work?

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is best described as a game of chess using one’s body. The object of BJJ is to use technique involving the use of leverage and positioning of one’s body to effectively control your opponent so that they cannot attack you, but you can attack them. The goal of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is to force your opponent to give up due to the application of a finishing hold also known as a submission. Submissions, as they are commonly referred to in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, are joint-locks (holds that threaten to hyper extend a joint), or chokes. When we spar and a submission hold is applied, the person caught in the submission signals that they give up by tapping their opponent’s body. It is through this system that we can train at full strength and speed without serious injury. It is also this ability to practice while going “all out” and “full contact” with a fully resisting opponent, that makes the training of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu so realistic, effective, and rewarding.

Why do I see guys and girls around 115-140 pounds defeating 200+ pound men at the academy?

Do not worry you are not seeing things. Brazilian Jiu-jitsu was designed so that a weaker, smaller, and yes less athletic but more skilled practitioner could defeat a vastly larger and otherwise superior opponent through the use of proper positioning, leverage, and timing. All things being equal it is true that size, strength and athleticism are advantages, but through superior technique, these advantages can be negated or minimized. As one Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu World Champion and Toronto BJJ instructor put it “the wonderful thing about Jiu-Jitsu is that big or small, strong or weak, fast or slow, flexible or not, there is a way to play Jiu-Jitsu that will work for you.”

How does Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu compare to other martial arts such as Karate, Kungfu, or Tae-Kwondo?

Brazilian Jiu-jitsu is different from these arts, in that we emphasize groundwork, and they emphasize striking. In style versus style match ups known as challenge matches Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioners have been able to defeat pure strikers. This is proven in early UFC events (UFC’s 1-4), and in the documentary tape series Gracies In Action. At Toronto BJJ, our members run the gamut from those who have no prior martial arts experience to those who are Black Belts in other arts, including owners of successful Karate schools. Everyone is welcome at Toronto BJJ. What all of our students share in common is a great experience learning Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu together.

History in Brief

The art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a descendant of Japanese Jiu-Jitsu. The evolution from Japanese Jiu-Jitsu to a style uniquely Brazilian, began when Mitsuo Maeda came to Brazil to help settle Japanese colonies in the country. He was befriended in Brazil by a politician named Gracie. In return for the kindness shown to him by Mr. Gracie, Maeda taught the Brazilian politician’s eldest son his style of Jiu-Jitsu. Back then traditional Jiu-Jitsu had many ground techniques. And so it began. The eldest son became a Jiu-Jitsu instructor, teaching the art to his brothers. The youngest of which was Helio. Suffering from physical ailments, and lacking physical strength, Helio was confined to watching his older brothers teach and train. One day, a private student showed up for his lesson but no instructor was there to teach him. However, Helio, was around, and proceeded to teach the student what he had learned from watching his brothers, and threw in his own adaptations he had invented out of physical necessity. Unable to out muscle anybody, Helio had been forced to rely more heavily on efficient use of leverage and movement to control his opponents. Helio, had developed a style of Jiu-Jitsu that allowed smaller, weaker people to control larger stronger opponents on the ground. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu was born.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) would first gain notoriety through competitions in carnival fairs in Brazil. Some of the matches would feature the slight Helio defeating men nearly twice his size. The Gracie family issued challenges through the newspapers to practitioners of other martial arts. Challenge matches were held at an academy or neutral place and BJJ always emerged victorious over all other martial art styles, including Karate, Tae-Kwon-Do, and Judo. This lead to professional Vale-Tudo (anything goes) professional matches in Brazil. Once again BJJ practitioners easily dominated the scene. Helio’s eldest son Rorion (pronounced Horion) Gracie moved to California in the 1980’s, bringing with him his brothers Rickson, Royler and Royce. Pretty soon the Gracie brothers were defeating teachers of Karate, Tae-Kwon-Do, Kung Fu, nin-jitsu and others stateside. What was astonishing was the ease in which the BJJ practitioner was able to negate the ability of the other martial arts stylists’ use of strikes by simply closing the distance. The fights would follow a predictable pattern. The opponent would attempt to strike the BJJ practitioner, which would enable the BJJ practitioner to close the distance and clinch his opponent. Once inside the clinch, the opponent was unable to effectively strike, and the BJJ practitioner would pull him down to the ground. From the ground position, whether the BJJ practitioner landed on top or bottom of his opponent, he would proceed to use a submission hold (choke or joint lock) to make his opponent give up or submit. What these challenge matches demonstrated (besides the dominance of BJJ) was that most martial arts do not sufficiently address the issue of what to do when the fight hits the ground. This is a glaring weakness, especially when one considers that in the states FBI statistics have consistently claimed that over ninety percent of all fights end up on the ground. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a grappling (ground based) fighting art.

For Rorion Gracie, Proving his art to the citizens of the Greater Los Angeles area was not enough. In the early 1990’s, he came up with the idea of pitting martial art versus martial art on television through pay-per-view. Thus, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) was born. The competition was designed to show the general public what happens when top practitioners of different arts fight each other. Who would win between a Karate guy and a Boxer, a sumo wretler or a Kung Fu expert, etceteras. Entering the tournament was Rorion’s little brother Royce, all 176 pounds of him. To make a long story short, Royce submitted all of his larger and stronger opponents with ease en route to becoming the first UFC Champion. Because he made it look so easy, and the fact that Royce seldom needed to actually hit his opponent to win, led to the emergence of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu as a martial art throughout North America.

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