What Is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu? (Everything You Need to Know)

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is one of the most valuable and thriving martial arts for self-defense, street fighting, and physical health. It is an efficient ground combat method focusing on grappling techniques, including takedowns, joint locks, and many other submissions.

Learning the art of Brazilian jiu-jitsu can help you defend yourself efficiently. Besides, it is an excellent way to relieve stress, enhance fitness, and receive a full-body workout.

This post will discuss many fascinating facts about the art of Brazilian jiu-jitsu, where small practitioners overcome a more prominent opponent. Stay tuned!

What Is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ)?

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Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a famous martial art, combat sport, and self-defense practice emphasizing grappling fighting. The Gracie family invented it in Brazil in the early twentieth century.

It is well-known for its efficacy in self-defense and mixed martial arts (MMA) events.

Aside from that, Brazilian jiu-jitsu is a good workout that doesn’t allow striking and teaches numerous life-changing lessons, including discipline, consistency, and combat methods, to name a few examples.

Furthermore, BJJ training leads to many notions for protecting yourself in a fight, including distance control and using submissions to beat a powerful opponent.

BJJ is a fantastic martial art to study since it offers good grappling techniques and helps you change your conduct and character to become a better person.

“Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu defines the natural defense of a weak person against a strong one.

It’s a leveling process through which brute force is confronted and dominated by the wise application of rational mechanics.

It is led to admitting that the person usually taken as a body endowed with a soul should be deemed a soul that happens to reside during a body“.

Master Carlos Gracie

Source: The Chewjitsu Podcast

Related: Looking to enhance your jiu-jitsu journey? This list of the best jiu-jitsu podcasts! Gain valuable insights, techniques, and interviews with experts in the field. Click here to read more!

History of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Source: MMA Leech

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu was developed from Japanese jiu-jitsu (also known as traditional jiu-jitsu or Ju-Jutsu) by Master Mitsuyo Maeda, Carlos & Helio Gracie, and other members of the Gracie family.

In truth, BJJ evolved from the fundamentals of Kodokan judo ground combat (Newaza) taught to Carlos Gracie and his brothers by coach Mitsuyo Maeda.

The Gracies then passed their knowledge to their extended family, acquaintances, and pupils, who passed it on to others to develop the modern Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Brazil’s finest fighters, Luiz Franca and Mario Sperry, also helped the Gracies build the actual BJJ art sport.

Master Mitsuyo Maeda’s Role in the History of BJJ

Master Mitsuyo Maeda moved from Japan to Brazil in the last days of the 19th century. He inaugurated the beginning of the Brazilian jiu-jitsu martial arts in 1915.

After a while in Brazil, Mitsuyo Maeda meets the Gracie family, formed by Gastao Gracie’s father and eight children. Besides, at that time, Gracies was known for its martial arts learning orientation.

Carlos & George & Helio Gracie’s Role in BJJ Developing

At a young age, Carlos, George, and Hélio set out to learn the Kano Jiu-Jitsu (Style of Judo) immediately following the meeting with master Mitsuyo Maeda and the Gracie family.

Also, they learned to catch wrestling under the renowned Orlando Americo “Dudú” da Silva.

In the following years, the Gracies brothers began to build the fundamentals of Brazilian jiu-jitsu together.

Therefore, they started investing in building notable martial academies; for example, Carlos relocated and established the first jujitsu school in Rio de Janeiro when he was nineteen.

Then, the brothers had been training and honing their ground fighting skills for a while.

And they’d discovered that jiu-jitsu is an extraordinarily effective and efficient martial art that can be used to defeat opponents who are physically stronger than they are.

The promotion of BJJ martial art begins with the famous quote;

a smaller, weaker BJJ practitioner can defeat a much bigger, stronger opponent by using leverage and proper techniques. 

Helio Gracie

Jiu-Jitsu Promoting and Developing by the Gracies

The Gracies started to challenge other martial artists to prove the efficiency of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and promote this unique martial art.

Hélio Gracie vs. Masahiko Kimura is one of the most renowned fights to demonstrate the efficacy of Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Masahiko Kimura was a highly skilled Japanese Judoka and professional wrestler.

The Hélio Gracie / Masahiko Kimura fight occurred at the Maracanã Stadium in front of 20,000 spectators in 1951.

There was a great deal of energy and movement from both combatants.

After the battle, Masahiko arrived to break Helio’s arm with a reverse Ude-Garami lock, referred to as the kimura lock in BJJ.

In the late 1970s, Rorion Gracie (Hélio’s son) immigrated to the United States to promote Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, giving this martial art a new appearance.

This action forever changed how individuals viewed combat fighting arts.

However, it was difficult for Rorion to demonstrate the efficacy of BJJ without competing against other renowned martial artists, such as wrestlers.

Aside from that, these fight challenges were responsible for creating the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) tournament in 1993.

Since then, Brazilian jiu-jitsu has played a significant role in mixed martial arts competitions and has become one of the most effective martial arts for self-defense, weight loss, and physical health.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Fighting Style

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As a practitioner, you’ll notice that BJJ combines several martial arts, including Judo and wrestling.

A jiu-jitsu fighter begins the fight, standing to bring his opponent to the ground using proper takedowns.

Meanwhile, he uses firmer grips to control his opponent and forces him to submit or score more points by positioning him in specific positions.

Briefly, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a grappling martial art that emphasizes ground combat.

It teaches the use of the proper grappling techniques to overcome even bigger opponents. Otherwise, it has two distinct fighting styles: Jiu-Jitsu Gi and No-Gi.

Jiu-Jitsu Gi Training

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Gi Jiu Jitsu Training

Brazilian jiu-jitsu gi training is done while the practitioner wears a gi uniform. Otherwise, this BJJ fighting style is primarily used for competitions and street fighting. Here are some features of BJJ gi training:

  1. Clothes: Gi competitions necessitate using a traditional gi with a belt.
  2. Holds and Grips: In a gi fight, you can grab your opponent’s gi, giving you access to choke submissions, including lapel and collar choke.
  3. Game Speed: The gi fighting style limits the speed of both players due to the numerous grips that both fighters can use. In addition, the gi uniform has a significant impact on game speed. As a result, submissions are more common in a gi than in no-gi matches.
  4. Fighting philosophy: A successful BJJ gi fighting philosophy necessitates good gi grips during the fight to perform takedowns or control the opponent while on the ground and standing. Otherwise, gi jiu-jitsu practitioners value grip setting/breaking, less strength, and choke techniques because there are many effective ways to tap out an opponent.

Jiu-Jitsu No-Gi Training

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Brazilian jiu-jitsu no-gi training is done while the practitioner is dressed in a rashguard and shorts. Otherwise, it is famous for MMA and calorie burning. Here are some features of BJJ gi training:

  1. Clothes: Rash guards, shorts, and occasionally spats are required for no-gi tournaments.
  2. Holds and Grips: In a no-gi fight, you cannot grab your opponent’s clothes or use any parts of his rashguard or shorts.
  3. Game Speed: The no-gi fighting style is a highly intense and fast workout because the no-gi clothes allow players to move at full speed and explosiveness. As a result, submissions are rare and difficult to obtain in no-gi matches.
  4. Fighting philosophy: A successful no-gi grappling fighting philosophy necessitates understanding and applying several principles and techniques. First, no-gi players should be more dynamic and explosive and quickly transition to attacks (joint locks, sweeps, etc.). They also emphasize strength, balance, high-body positional work, and empty-handed groundwork to achieve dominant positions and submissions.

Related: Gi or No-Gi Jiu Jitsu, Which One Is Better?

Basic Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Positions

Brazilian jiu-jitsu positions are crucial in developing your game to the next level.

A wise fighter should establish a dominant position that will give access to submissions, sweeps, or other attacks.

Otherwise, the grappler controls the opponent and limits his moves when arriving at a dominant position.

Here is a list of the primary positions in BJJ grappling that you should consider:

Back Take Position

The back take, also known as “back mount” or “back control,” is the dominant position in grappling martial arts.

It occurs when a player uses proper grips and hooks to control his opponent’s back.

The back mount can be obtained from various positions, including the turtle, Dela Riva guard, etc.

Furthermore, it provides a plethora of vicious submissions and transitions, such as chokes (triangle choke, RNC, bow-and-arrow, etc.), arm-locks, and other attacks.

Recommended: Click here to learn about the BJJ back control position

Full Mount Position

The full mount position is one of the most basic positions in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

Besides, most competitors think the mount is the second dominant position behind the back control.

The mount can be reached from other positions, including the side controlknee-on-belly, etc.

Otherwise, it offers an extended list of submissions and transitions, including chokes, armbars, triangles, Americana locks, and kimura locks, to name a few.

Aside from that, the mount position competitors can try various mounting options such as high mount, S-mount, or low mount.

Recommended: Click here to learn about the BJJ mount control position.

Closed Guard Position

The closed guard (the “full guard“) is one of BJJ’s most basic positions. It can be by wrapping your legs around your opponent’s waist.

The bottom closed guard player can get a lot of submissions (kimura lock, armbar, triangle, etc.) and sweeps (scissor sweep, kimura sweep, and more).

However, the guy at the top has few options; he should correct his posture and try to break the closed guard to gain a better position, such as the side control.

Therefore, practitioners should understand this critical and complicated position during their training journey.

Half Guard Position

The half guard is one of the fundamental Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu positions used by many fighters, including Lucas Leite, in gi and no gi competitions.

It occurs when a bottom player inserts one leg between the top opponent’s legs. 

Furthermore, the half guard allows for various submissions or transitions, such as the kimura lock, triangle chokeloop choke, back control, deep half guard, etc.

However, to avoid being smashed, you must install appropriate frames (knee shield, hand control) once you reach this position.

Related: Click here to learn about the BJJ half-guard position

BJJ Butterfly Guard

The butterfly guard is a kind of open guard, one of the most challenging positions to master.

In this guard type, the player is on his buttocks and sitting upright, facing the opponent while hooking the opponent’s legs using BJJ butterfly hooks.

Many competitors, including Marcelo Gracia, used the butterfly guard extensively in tournaments, especially no-gi.

The butterfly position is the starting point for many submission techniques, such as the guillotineleg locks, kneebars, triangles, armbars, etc.

Related: The Butterfly Guard Position in Jiu-jitsu (The Ultimate Guide)

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Belts

bjj belts

Brazilian jiu-jitsu has an incredible belt ranking system, with eight adult and five belt levels for children and adolescents.

 Adult Belt Levels (practitioners over 16 years old) White, blue, purple, brown, black, red/black, red/white, and red belts
Youth Belt Levels (practitioners under 16 years old) white, gray, yellow, orange, and green belts

Aside from that, adult and youth students earn belts and stripes for various reasons, including time, knowledge, behavior, and competition performance.

Youth Belt Ranks

Youth Belts in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Children Jiu-Jitsu between 4 and 15 can receive belt colors. Those belts reward progress after a white belt before earning a blue belt, which may only be awarded to people 16 or older.

The International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation specified 13 belts for competitors aged 4 through 15. 

White, Gray-White, Gray, Gray-Black, Yellow-White, Yellow, Yellow-Black, Orange-White, Orange, Orange-Black, Green-White, Green, and Green-Black.

Related: Why Do Kids Need Jiu-Jitsu? (Explained Benefits)

White Belt

The white belt defines a new student who has just begun training in this martial arts discipline.

Furthermore, a white belt stays at this level for at least two years, depending on his training progress and other requirements to get promoted to the blue belt.

Related: Begin your BJJ career confidently as you learn the essential techniques and movements that every beginner should know. This article reveals the basic moves and techniques to help improve your game so far.

Blue Belt

The blue belt has developed more knowledge about Brazilian jiu-jitsu techniques and submissions.

Otherwise, a blue belt stays in this jiu-jitsu level for between 2 and 3 years before moving to the purple belt. 

Related: Click here to learn about the BJJ Blue Belt

Purple Belt

The purple belt attests to a fighter who passes at least four to 5 years of jiu-jitsu practice and study.

So, he is very savage while playing some advanced positions. Otherwise, a purple belt stays in this BJJ level for between 2 and 3 years.

Related: Click here to learn about the Jiu-Jitsu purple belt

Brown Belt

The brown belt is the next belt promotion for a purple belt. It defines a student with at least six years of jiu-jitsu practice and study.

Aside from that, a brown belt stays in this Brazilian jiu-jitsu level for between 1 and 2 years.

Related: Click here to learn about the brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Black Belt

The black belt is among the highest and most advanced ranks in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, with eleven levels and ten degrees.

As a result, advanced fighters are graded from a regular black belt (no degree) to a 10th-degree black belt, which takes many years of BJJ practice.

However, following the sixth-degree black belt, we commonly discuss coral belts (7th and 8th-degree black belts) and red belts (9th and 10th-degree black belts).

Related: Click here to learn about Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt degrees

Submissions in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

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To become a tough Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fighter, you must have many submissions to overcome your opponents.

Wristlocks, kimura locks, armbars, triangles, and collar chokes are among the top attacks you can learn in BJJ.

The video below teaches you the top ten BJJ submissions you should know from your first days on the mat. Therefore, it includes the following submissions:

  1. Armbar Submission
  2. Americana
  3. Kimura Lock
  4. Triangle Choke
  5. D’Arce Choke
  6. Bow and Arrow Choke
  7. Rear Naked Choke
  8. Arm Triangle Choke
  9. Straight Ankle Lock
  10. Cross choke (or X Choke)
Source: Jedi Does Jiujitsu

Related: Building a brutal Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu game requires knowledge of several Submission techniques. So, I’ve written a lengthy article on the most effective BJJ submissions you must know, whether you’re a beginner or an advanced practitioner. Click here to learn more!

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Benefits

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a grappling discipline that offers numerous advantages, including:

  • Increasing your fitness activity.
  • Improving your problem-solving ability.
  • It’s good for your body and mind.
  • It can be beneficial in self-defense and street-fighting situations. 
  • Social benefits of working within an outsized group. 
  • Etc

Related: Discover the Incredible Benefits of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

BJJ for Self-Defense and Competition

Source: Peter Mettler Martial Arts

BJJ is popular in both sports and self-defense situations.

This martial art emphasizes competitions and hosts events worldwide where practitioners are sorted into weight classes and compete under various rules and restrictions.

Aside from that, Brazilian jiu-jitsu is also practiced for self-defense and law enforcement, among other uses.

The Art of Jiu-Jitsu is worth more in every way than all of our athletics combined.

U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt


Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, also known as BJJ, is one of the most impressive martial arts. It is a fantastic grappling discipline that focuses on ground fighting.

As a jiu-jitsu practitioner, you will learn to control an opponent by employing various techniques to force him to tap out.

So, it is an effective combat sport for self-defense and a great workout for fitness, weight loss, and other advantages.

Jiu-Jitsu is meant to safeguard the person, the older man, the weak, the kid, the lady, and the young woman from being controlled and damaged by some jerk because they lack the physical qualities to defend themselves.

Helio Gracie

Frequently Asked Questions

Who Started Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?

The Gracie family, notably Carlos Gracie, founded Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ). Carlos Gracie and his brothers Oswaldo, Gastao Jr., George, and Hélio learned jujitsu Japanese from Mitsuyo Maeda in the early twentieth century.

Then, in the later years, the Gracie family worked hard to develop and spread Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu worldwide.

What Is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Good for?

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Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) is beneficial in many ways, including:

  • Learning Self-defense: BJJ is a very effective self-defense martial art. It teaches practitioners to use leverage and technique rather than pure power to control and submit an opponent.
  • Improving Physical Health: BJJ is a full-body exercise that may increase strength, flexibility, and cardiovascular fitness. It also aids in the burning of calories and the development of muscle.
  • Enhancing Mental Health: BJJ may be beneficial to one’s mental health. It requires focus, discipline, and patience, which can help to reduce stress and improve overall well-being.
  • Valuable Sparring: Sparring or rolling periods are the most thrilling and pleasant aspects of a Brazilian jiu-jitsu lesson that practitioners look forward to. They provide good possibilities for every practitioner to hone his skills and motions to become more successful.
  • Improving Confidence: BJJ can help to improve self-confidence by providing the opportunity to learn new skills and push oneself physically and mentally.
  • Enhancing Socialization: BJJ is a sport that allows practitioners to interact with others and make new friends, which can benefit mental well-being.
  • Competition: BJJ is also a sport that can be enjoyed at a competitive level for those who want to test their skills against other practitioners.

Related: Is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Good for Self-Defense? (Explained!)


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