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Brief History of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
The Martial Art known as Jiu-Jitsu (The Gentle Art) has existed in Japan for many centuries. Its exact origins are not entirely clear and some would argue that India is its rightful birthplace although there is not enough evidence to support this.
During the Feudalism period in Japan, warriors were taught jiu-jitsu as a form of combat which included throws, ground grappling and strikes. There were many schools that taught jiu-jitsu in Japan but as sociological changes took place, the art of Jiu-Jitsu began to decline.
Jigoro Kano (1860-1938), founder of the Martial Art known as Judo began his Martial Arts career studying Jiu-Jitsu. During his studies, Kano concluded that there were many problems with classical jiu-jitsu. One of these problems included unrealistic training methods where students learned by memorizing choreographed movements called kata. This method of training does not allow for testing your techniques with a resisting opponent, hence introducing his own Martial Art - Judo.
Judo allowed students to train using full force in their technique. These techniques included throws and submission holds. It became very popular in a short period of time. In his quest to spread the art of Judo, Kano sent representatives to the United States in hopes of the art becoming an Olympic Sport. One of the representatives was Mitsuyo Maeda (1878-1941).
Mitsuyo Maeda traveled to North, Central and South America and even Europe. In the Early 1920's, Maeda traveled to Brazil to start a colony in the North. It is here where Maeda would meet Gastao Gracie who was involved with politics. Gracie would use his political contacts to aid Maeda and in return, Maeda would teach Jiu-Jitsu to Gastao Gracie's sons.
Carlos Gracie (1902-1994), the oldest Gracie brother learned from Maeda for approximately 2-4 years. This left the Gracie family to learn among themselves refining their technique to the highest degree. They eliminated the useless and added or refined effective techniques. Today, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has proven to be the most effective form of unarmed combat available. The current generations of the Gracie family have proven this in today's Mixed Martial Art events and open challenge matches.