Mixed Martial Arts And Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Modern mixed martial arts did not originate in the United States but rather in the streets of Brazil. Throughout the 1930’s, 40’s, and 50’s Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu was developed by the Gracie family. The Gracie’s learned Japanese JuJitsu and began modifying the art to make it more effective for street fighting. To prove their system was the most effective fighting art, they issued challenge matches to anyone who would fight them “vale tudo” style (no holds barred). This method of refinement helped Carlos Gracie(the creator of BJJ) determine which techniques were viable in real application with no rules. Because of this, the Gracie’s are widely considered to be the first mixed martial artists.

As new competitors challenged the Gracie’s style, the family continued developing their Jiu-Jitsu to maintain its effectiveness against all forms of martial arts. Practitioners of Judo, Kung-Fu, Hapkido, Boxing, Tae Kwon Doe, Karate, and Wrestling tested their abilities against Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and all matches ended with the same result- victory by submission. 

In the 60’s and 70’s Jiu-Jitsu gained national fame in Brazil as the ultimate fighting art. The Gracie’s began to incorporate aspects of other martial arts into their style. They incorporated wrestling takedowns, leg locks from Sambo, and throws and pins from Judo. 

By the late 80’s the Gracie family established Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in the United States. The open challenge for all martial artists to test their abilities against BJJ began to grow in popularity. Eventually Rorion Gracie saw this as an opportunity to put his challenge matches on television to show the world the effectiveness of his family’s art. Shortly thereafter he promoted and televised the first ever Ultimate Fighting Championship. It had almost no rules, there were no time limits, and there were no weight classes. 

Rorion invited some of the biggest, most aggressive fighters from many styles- Dutch kickboxers, sumo wrestlers, karate fighters, boxers, and freestyle wrestlers. However it was his little brother Royce Gracie, a 170 pound Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt, who dominated every match and forced every other fighter into submission. Royce won the tournament and became the first Ultimate Fighting Champion.

After Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) burst onto the world scene in UFC 1 November 12th, 1993, the martial arts culture changed forever. Once Royce Gracie demonstrated the superiority of BJJ as a fighting art, fighters began to realize that grappling was one of the most important aspects of martial arts training. To be well rounded they began incorporating BJJ into their daily practice. This gave rise to modern day MMA. Although today's MMA fighters are much more well rounded than in the early 90's, it is still widely accepted that Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is the bedrock of MMA training. Indeed, extensive training in ground fighting, submissions and submission defense a fundamental requirement for a successful MMA career.