Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ) has been developed by the Gracie brothers, Carlos and Helio. Carlos Gracie learned Judo from Mitsuyo Maeda, a former student of Jigoro Kano, and passed it on to his younger brother Helio. Many of the traditional judo techniques are based on physical strength. Due to his physique, Helio wasn’t able to perform those effectively.
He therefore modified a lot of the techniques to the effect that they were also useable by people with less bodily power by finding a way of an improved usage of joint locks on the basis of biomechanic principles.
These techniques became the basis of today’s Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
The effectivity of the techniques that Helio developed was proven by him and many of his family members in so-called Vale Tudo fights (“everything goes”).
One of his most legendary fights was the one against Masahiko Kimura in 1951. Although he was stronger and heavier than Helio, it took Kimura about 13 minutes to beat him with a shoulderlock (ude-garami).
Helio Gracie vs. Mashahiko Kimura (1951)
That shoulderlock broke Helio’s arm and yet he refused to submit, so his brother Carlos threw in the towel for him and thereby ended the fight.
Ever since this fight, this kind of shoulderlock has often been referred to as the Kimura.
In the early Nineties Rorion Gracie, one of Helio’s sons, established The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) to demonstrate jiu-jitsu’s effectivity in fights with hardly any rules.
Here, jiu-jitsu was represented by Royce Gracie also one of Helio’s sons.
Royce was the lightest in weight among Helio’s sons and among participants as well.
Despite being physically inferior to the other participants, Royce was able to win the first three UFC events, partly outclassing his oponents.
In the sports oriented version of BJJ punching and kicking is not allowed. Instead the partner is compelled into submission by using joint locks, throws, submission holds, choke holds and any kind of holding techniques. The practicing athletes can compete in different weight and beginners or advanced classes or simply pursue the sport during training.