Jiu-Jitsu is an ancient martial art which originated in India more than 2,000 years before Christ. Developed by Buddhist monks, it spread through China and eventually settled in Japan. Over the years, since the Meiji restoration in the last century, Jiu-Jitsu became practically extinct in Japan surviving only as a very restricted sportive form of Judo.
In 1914, Japanese Jiu-Jitsu champions Esai Maeda and Inomata arrived in Brazil to help establish a Japanese immigration colony in that developing country.
He was aided by Gastao Gracie, a Brazilian scholar and politician of scottish decent. To show his gratitude, the Jiu-Jitsu master taught the basic secrets of that ancient fighting style to Gastao’s son, Carlos Gracie. Carlos taught Maeda’s techniques to his brothers: Oswaldo, Gastao, Jorge and Helio and in 1925 they opened the “Gracie” Jiu-Jitsu Academy in Botafogo, a district of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Carlos and his brothers, particularly Helio, changed the original art, adding new techniques and discarding older, less efficient ones. At that point, Jiu-Jitsu became Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ), a more efficient and complete fighting system.
Jiu-Jitsu, originally a sport for the elite, became increasingly popular and now has a large following.
Rio de Janeiro is currently the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu capital of the world with the most number of schools and practitioners.
Today, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is being spread worldwide thanks to Carlos Gracie teaching his brothers, sons, and grandsons.