A brief introduction
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a self-defense, combat sport and martial art which not only focuses on grappling but ground fighting as well. This form of fighting claims its roots from Kodokan Judo which has been taught by several highly regarded people including Mitsuyo Maeda and Takea Yono amongst others.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu attempts to establish and promote the belief that a weaker, smaller person can successfully fight against a stronger, larger opponent.
Since 1882, the year in which Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, it has been distinguished significantly from the older practices of Japanese Jiu Jitsu by being established not just as martial art but as a sport which can promote and encourage physical fitness and character building as a goal in life. This method of judo spread across the world as its popularity increased and is practised in various countries worldwide, including the UK, with particular reverence for BJJ in London.
Origins and history of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
The first Brazilian Jiu Jitsu school was opened in Brazil by Geo Omori in 1909. Later on, Mitsuyo Maeda was sent overseas by the founder of judo, Kano Jigoro, in order to establish and spread the art throughout the world. Maeda travelled several countries through the years before reaching Brazil in 1914.
Maeda was presented by the circus Queirolo Brothers who used to stage shows in Belem, where Gastao Gracie was a business partner in the American Circus. Gastao’s eldest son, Carlos Gracie decided to learn judo after watching one of Maeda’s performances. Carlos studied under Maeda’s guidance, before furthering the art within his own family. His brother Helio Gracie was also instrumental in the development of BJJ as a form of judo laying greater focus on ground fighting.
Style of fighting and its influence
The style of fighting promoted by BJJ focuses on the fact that stronger opponents have an advantage of a better reach and the ability to generate more power in their strikes, which is why it focuses on ground fighting, hence reducing or nullifying these effects.
Hence, BJJ provides a variety of techniques which are used to bring the opponent to the ground, before performing a manoeuvre intended to place the opponent in a position for the application of a submission technique.
Maybe the greatest influence exerted by Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is in the fact that it is one of the most popular methods of fighting used in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, which was started by Jiu-Jitsu legend Rorion Gracie.
In fact, it seems that nowadays, BJJ and the UFC go hand in hand, with many UFC title winners and fighter training in jiu-jitsu as well, with Hall of Famers such as Royce Gracie being a practitioner of jiu-jitsu as well.
Later on, Rorion’s daughter, Rose Gracie, created the Gracie Nationals, which is a tournament based purely on Jiu Jitsu. Established in 2007, the tournament initially compromised of the traditional scoring system employed in other fighting tournaments. However, later, it changed the scoring system to a submissions only format, which Rose thought was more in line with what her grandfather, Helio Grace, had envisioned.
Unfortunately, due to the fact that BJJ is extremely strenuous, it can lead to a variety of health risks. Apart from the normal muscle strains which occur in most martial arts, BJJ practitioners have especially exposed to skin abrasions as well as the fact that there is a high chance that the mats used for BJJ are unsanitary, which leads to a greater risk for developing skin diseases. Diseases rampant among BJJ practitioners include staph infection, impetigo and ringworm.
Hence, it is imperative to ensure that proper hygiene practices are followed stringently, which include cleaning the mats regularly, using disinfectants as well as showering as soon as the fight or practice ends.
Furthermore, due to the fact that BJJ practitioners have to use their head in order to be able to maintain their position as well as attack, the ears are prone to suffering damage and then beginning to swell. If the person does not seek medical treatment immediately, the ear can remain permanently swollen due to the cartilage separating from the perichondrium which supplies its nutrients. Using headgear has been proven helpful in helping avoid cauliflower ear.
Meanwhile, it has become commonplace for BJJ practitioners to use steroids amongst other performance-enhancing drugs. In fact, it has become so common that the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation has started to test the competitors in competitions which are sponsored by them.
Popularity of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in London
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in London has acquired significant popularity in recent years, mainly due to the large scale success of UFC and Mixed Martial Arts in the city. This popularity of BJJ in London has seen 12 tournaments hosted by the British Association of Mixed Martial Arts in just 6 years.
Nowadays, there are a large number of gyms which offer Brazilian Jiu Jitsu training, with the Roger Gracie Academy, started by the aforementioned UFC Hall of Famer Roger Gracie, allowing you to learn Brazilian Jiu Jitsu from the person perhaps most responsible for the spread of the art in recent times.