HISTORY OF BRAZILIAN JIU JITSU
The art began with Mitsuyo Maeda (aka Conde Koma, or Count Combat in English), a Japanese expert judoka and member of the Kodokan. Maeda was one of five of the Kodokan's top groundwork experts that Kano sent overseas to spread his Judo to the world. Maeda left Japan in 1904 and visited a number of countries giving "jiu-do" demonstrations and accepting challenges from wrestlers, boxers, savate fighters and various other martial artists before eventually arriving in Brazil on November 14, 1914.
Since its inception, judo was separated from jujutsu in its goals, philosophy, and training regime. Although there was great rivalry among jujutsu teachers, this was more than just Kano Jigoro's ambition to clearly individualize his art. To Kano, judo wasn't solely a martial art: it was also a sport, a method for promoting physical fitness and building character in young people, and, ultimately, a way (Tao) of life.
When Maeda left Japan, Judo was also known as Kano Jiu-Jitsu and, even more generically, simply as Jiu-Jitsu. Teachers of both arts didn't try too hard to make the distinction clear. For example, Tomita himself appeared in a book called Judo: The Modern School of Jiu-Jitsu. Outside Japan, however, this distinction wasn't even hinted. Both arts, jujutsu and judo, were practically unknown. To the extent that they were known, they were considered the same thing. Thus, when Maeda and Satake arrived in Brazil, every newspaper announced jiu-jitsu despite both men being Kodokan Judoka.The Japanese government itself did not officially mandate until 1925 that the correct name for the martial art taught in the Japanese public schools should be "judo" rather than "jujutsu". In Brazil, the art is still called "Jiu-Jitsu". When the Gracies went to the United States to spread their art, the system became known as "Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu" and "Gracie Jiu-Jitsu."
"Jiu-Jitsu" was also the original spelling of the art in the West and that is why this style retains the original (although technically incorrect) spelling. Other common spellings are Jujitsu, Ju-Jitsu, Ju jitsu and Jujutsu - the last being correct in accordance with modern romanization.
Maeda met an influential businessman named Gastão Gracie who helped him get established. In 1917, his son Carlos Gracie, still a 14 year-old boy, watched a demonstration by Maeda at the Teatro da Paz and decided to learn jiu-jitsu. Maeda accepted Carlos as a student, and Carlos went on to become a great exponent of the art and ultimately, with his younger brother Hélio Gracie became the founder of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, modern Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
In 1921, Gastão Gracie and his family moved to Rio de Janeiro. Carlos, then 17 years old, passed Maeda's teachings on to his brothers Osvaldo, Gastão and Jorge. Hélio was too young and sick at that time to learn the art, and due to medical imposition was prohibited to take part in the training sessions. Despite that, Hélio learned jiu-jitsu by watching his brothers. He eventually overcame his health problems and is now considered by many as the founder of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (though others, such as Carlson Gracie, have pointed to Carlos as the founder of the art).
The Gracie family continued to develop the system throughout the 20th century, often fighting vale tudo matches (precursors to modern MMA), during which it increased its focus on ground fighting and refined its techniques.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu came to international prominence in the martial arts community in the 1990s, when Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu expert Royce Gracie won the first, second and fourth Ultimate Fighting Championships, which at the time were single elimination martial arts tournaments. Royce fought against often much-larger opponents who were practicing other styles, including boxing, shoot-fighting, karate, judo, tae kwon do and wrestling. It has since become a staple art for many MMA fighters and is largely credited for bringing wide-spread attention to the importance of ground fighting. Sport BJJ tournaments continue to grow in popularity worldwide and have given rise to no-gi submission grappling tournaments, such as the ADCC Submission Wrestling World Championship.
Hélio competed in several submission judo competitions which mostly ended in a draw. One defeat came by Masahiko Kimura, whose name the Gracies gave to the arm lock used to defeat Hélio. In a much later interview, Hélio admitted that he was choked unconscious early in the fight but regained consciousness quickly and avoided losing early. There are many accounts of what transpired during their fight in 1951, ranging from Kimura mocking Hélio's stance and openly insulting him, to Kimura being so impressed with Hélio's performance that he invited Hélio to teach in Japan. Today, Hélio teaches ?ccasionally in Brazil and accompanies his sons during fights.