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About Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Exploding onto the martial arts scene in America in the early 1990’s with the advent of the controversial but well documented “Gracie challenge”, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (or BJJ) has taken the martial arts world by storm since that time. In 1917, a Judo-ka named Maeda taught Carlos Gracie (Sr.) the basic framework of early Japanese Jiu-Jitsu, as a favor for the assistance he received from Carlos’ father. Maeda (or Count Koma as he was known then) was a martial artist who had emigrated to the US to bring Judo to America. Following a disappointing demonstration at West Point Academy, Maeda parted ways with his senior partner and travelled to South America.

After landing in Brazil, Maeda worked to help the Japanese government with its colonization effort and assisted in helping other Japanese citizens to immigrate to South America, in particular Brazil. In his off time, Maeda travelled offering up a challenge to fight “all comers” in his unique form of fighting. It was from this early style of fighting that the Gracie clan developed their unique form of Jiu-Jitsu in Brazil. Combining an early form of Samurai Jiu-Jitsu (the term “jitsu” implies a form of fighting that is self defense based vs. the “do” which is more akin to a form of art), vale tudo (no holds barred form of fighting already existing in Brazil), the Gracies developed a form of martial art which is quite unique and befitting the fighting atmosphere present in their culture at that time.

BJJ is a form of grappling and ground fighting which incorporates finesse and technique, and daily training is done with a partner who is fully resisting 95% of the time. This makes BJJ training unique and different in rigor. For example, in most forms of stand up sparring, full contact equipment may be utilized, but hitting your partner fully can cause more injuries than intended. This has been an issue in stand up training since its inception. For example, Miyagi Chojun, the founder of Goju-Ryu Karate imported full contact sparring equipment in 1939 from China for his student to engage in full contact combat training. It is noted that he gave this up in 1940 due to the injuries his students sustained to their fingers, toes, and necks. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has managed to bypass this limitation.

There are no neutrals in BJJ. You either love it or don’t. When you are engaged in sparring or “rolling”, your partner is fully resisting all of your efforts to pass their guard, to dominate their position, and to be submitted so it results in training which has real world applications. The Gracies had several decades to develop their martial art, and pitted their fighting techniques against others in full contact matches. It is well documented that Gracie fighting styles were very effective. They have their followers and detractors.

In early 1990’s, with the assistance of Chuck Norris of all people, the Gracies led their first seminar in Las Vegas and formerly introduced BJJ to America. Since that time, the Gracies openly challenged people to test their style against BJJ. Needless to say, BJJ was shown to be highly effective and has changed the face of fighting. I recall when this challenge was initially taking place. I remember feeling that the challenge disrespected the forms of fighting which were in existence at that time. However, once a person engages in BJJ training, one learns the wisdom of founders Carlos and his younger brother Helio. They are essentially asking you to get rid of the grand illusions that are inherent in traditional martial arts training and folklore. BJJ training can offer martial artists a strong balanced and complementary mindset to what they already know. The UFC was developed by Rorion Gracie to demonstrate the effectiveness of BJJ and has resulted in the current form of fighting known as MMA (or mixed martial arts).

The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu taught at JPMAA has its roots in this Gracie system, as the instructors have trained under Professor Roberto Maia, who founded the Boston Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu school in 1995. Professor Maia is the highest ranking BJJ Black Belt in this area and he is cousin to Renzo Gracie and Carlos Gracie Jr. Dr. Shim is privileged to have trained with Professor Maia, Chris Page, and Phil Myers (BJJ Black Belts all). Our goal at JPMAA is to pass on technical and authentic BJJ to our students, both gi (uniform) and no-gi training.