Martial arts, Brazilian style
Jiu-Jitsu is a martial art of uncertain origin. The direct translation of Jiu-Jitsu is “versatile, gentle art”. The objective of Jiu-Jitsu is to try and use the strength and weight of your opponent against them, as you try to throw your opponent to the ground. Forceful blows and self-defence are both deployed. However, the main moves in Jiu-Jitsu are those that aim to immobilize and neutralize one’s adversaries, through locking onto their joints and twisting their arms, ankles etc.
There is no historical consensus about the early beginnings of Jiu-Jitsu. The most commonly practiced version originated in Japan. Another more complex strand of Jiu-Jitsu is said to have begun in India, developed by Buddhist monks. Jiu-Jitsu was then, according to this version of events, taken to China and then Japan, as Buddhism expanded throughout Asia. A third account argues that Jiu-Jitsu was conceived in China.
There is no dispute, however, about the origins of Jiu-Jitsu in Brazil: it was brought to Brazil in 1915 by a Japanese man named Esai Maeda Koma or, as he became known, Count Koma.
In 1916, he met Gastão Gracie, who soon became a fan of the martial art. Gastão decided to take the eldest of his eight children, Carlos Gracie, then 15, to have lessons with Koma.
Carlos became a professional Jiu-Jitsu fighter, as well as a teacher of the discipline. In 1925, aged 19, he moved with his family to Rio de Janeiro and opened the first Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy.
The Gracie family had created Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Brazilian and Japanese Jiu-Jitsu are similar, but the Brazilian code favours fighting and grappling on the ground.
Today, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is more commonly practiced than the original Japanese version, and is even popular in Japan, as well as other parts of the world.
There are numerous advantages and health benefits to getting involved in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. To name just a few: weight loss and body toning, stress relief, not to mention learning to defend yourself.
If this sounds interesting, you’re not alone: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has won legions of fans and supporters in London. There are several dedicated gyms, including some owned by the Gracie family.