It is estimated that Jiu-Jitsu has been practiced for at least the past 2000 years. Starting in India and moving to China and then Japan. In Japan the art was most refined under the direction of the samurai. The word Jiu-Jitsu literally translates to "gentle art" but can best be interpreted as meaning "do not meet force with force" because the words "yielding" and "pliable" also come up when the word is translated.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu was developed when a Japanese immigrant living in Brazil named Esai Maeda( A Japanese Jiu-Jitsu Champion and Judo Master) taught the art to the eldest son of Gastao Gracie ( A Brazilian scholar of Scottish descent who had aided Maeda). It should be noted that Theodore Roosevelt also studied jiu-jitsu with Esai (Mitsuo) Maeda, also known as Count Koma, whom he initially met through a whitehouse demonstration.
Carlos Gracie was that eldest son and in 1925 with his younger brothers, most famously Helio, they would form the first Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Academy in the world.
Helio would eventually become the leader of instruction, and Carlos the spiritual and nutritional/health leader.
Helio and Carlos's eldest son, Carlson Gracie Sr., would spread the art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu through meeting a series of impressive challengers, competing in saga-like vale-tudo fights, and through teaching some of the greatest fighters, competitors, and instructors in the world. Later, brothers Royce and Rickson Gracie would become the ambassadors of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Julio "Foca" Fernandez became one such instructor. This has been my instructor. Growing up in Brazil, Julio was a surfing champion, he trained in Judo and Capoeira, and he became a 10 time Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu champion. Professor Fernandez trained under Master Carlson Gracie Senior for more than 30 years and is currently a 6th Degree Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Blackbelt. Professor Julio Fernandez and his fellow teammate Rodrigo Medeiros have influenced my Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu greatly.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu was brought to the U.S.A with the early astonishing victories of Royce Gracie in which he proved that the techniques of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in a 180lb. body could defeat much larger martial artists and their techniques. I thank Royce Gracie for my first introduction to true authentic Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Today, many people are familiar with some of the submissions of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and have viewed UFC fights that showcase wrestling, boxing, Muay Tai, and other fighting styles as well. Jiu-jitsu is about submissions, but it is about much more than that to those who make it a part of their life.
-Craig W. Willey White Mt. BJJ & MMA Club Instructor