Learning Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Techniques
Practicing Brazilian jiu jitsu moves to dominate an opponent or defend yourself from an attacker has become one of the main focuses in the martial arts community. It is impossible to ignore the overwhelming amount of times we see people with Bjj training taking down their adversary and submitting them with ease.
Martial artists everywhere have realized the importance of developing their grappling skills to compliment their striking abilities. If you have ever seen a UFC fight then you surely understand the importance of ground fighting. Time and time again the ground game has proven to be the most important aspect in combat sports. If you don’t have any grappling skills then your chances of winning a fight are slim to none.
The number of people participating in brazilian jiu jitsu training has been increasing since the early part of the twentieth century when the discipline was first introduced to Brazil. Over the past two decades in particular, Brazilian jiu-jitsu academies have seen tremendous growth. This has happened as people have witnessed the power of this martial art in no holds barred tournaments like the Ultimate Fighting Championship where the Gracie family dominated the competition.
What Is Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?
Bjj is considered by many to be one of the most effective forms of self defense. It is primarily a grappling art that focuses heavily on ground submissions such as joint locks, compression locks and chokes. It also incorporates throws, take downs and striking techniques, but these are usually practiced to a lesser degree. Anyone that is involved in the mixed martial arts community could tell you about the necessity for training in Brazilian jiu jitsu for mma competitions.
Practitioners typically where a uniform called a “gi” (also often referred to as a kimono) to train in. Although it is not uncommon for people to prefer to train without the use of the jacket which would be called “no gi”. The main concept of the art is to take your opponent to the ground, where a smaller more experienced grappler can mitigate the strengths of a larger opponent by using strategic positioning and leverage against him.
Competitions are also a big part of the sporting aspect of the art. There is no striking involved during competitions and the large majority of the points that can be scored in a match happen on the ground. The International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation is one of the more well known for-profit organizations for the sport. It hosts many tournaments around the world so that students can test their skills in a safe environment and to help promote the art. If you talk to just about anyone that has been training in Bjj for any extended period of time, then they would probably tell you they have competed before.
Gracie Jiu Jitsu
The Gracie family is one of the most common names associated with Bjj. They are the name that is most associated with Bjj. Carlos and Helio Gracie were the first to start training in Judo and Jujutsu in Brazil. It was Rorian Gracie that brought the Gracie name and their style of Jujutsu to the United States. He also started the Ultimate Fighting Championship otherwise known as the UFC.
Brazilian jiu jitsu is a very competitive sport and has a large number of tournaments all across the world today. There are many schools that train solely for the sporting aspect of bjj over the self defense side of it. This is where Gracie jiu jitsu differentiates itself from its counterpart. Gracie jiu jitsu is taught first for self defense purposes. It is not uncommon for them to regularly teach techniques that deal with punching and kicking as a part of their class curriculum.
Common Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Moves
Today many bjj techniques are recognizable in sports such as mixed martial arts. There are very few other styles that have been quite as effective and have had such an impact in the martial arts world. Here is a list of some of the more recognizable Brazilian jiu jitsu moves:
- Triangle choke
- Cross body armbar
- Closed guard
- Lion Kill
- Spider guard
- 93 guard
A Short History of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and the Gracies
Jiu jitsu (jujutsu) is a traditional martial art that was developed in Japan that encompassed all aspects of fighting arts such as striking, joint locks, throws, chokes and weapons. There are still many different styles of traditional jujutsu that are taught today.
One of the more popular styles was Kano Jujutsu or otherwise known today as Judo. With the rising popularity of Judo, it’s founder Jigoro Kano decided to spread Judo through out the world by sending teachers to other countries. One of these instructors was Mitsuyo Maeda. He was one of the top groundwork technicians in Judo. He eventually ended up in Brazil where he was involved in circus performances and would compete in no holds barred competitions.
Maeda and the Gracies
When you speak about the history of jujutsu in Brazil, it is impossible not to speak of the Gracies. They are the most influential family concerning its development. Maeda became the teacher of Carlos Gracie who then taught his younger brother Helio Gracie. Helio had health issues as a child and because of this was much smaller and weaker than other children his age.
When Helio began to learn from his brother, he had to modify the techniques. Because he was smaller and weaker than most he couldn’t rely on the use of strength in order to defend himself against opponents he faced. Helio found that if he could tackle his opponent or drag him to the ground then size and strength was less of a factor and he could more easily defeat him. Because of this, pulling an opponent from standing position onto the ground into the guard position became very common today among Brazilian jiu jitsu players. It is what people refer to as “pulling guard”.
The Gracie Challenge
The Gracie name would eventually become well known due to the efficiency of the groundwork techniques that Helio focused on. Since Helio was much smaller than everyone he trained with, people were impressed at how he was able to defeat larger, stronger opponents. Challenges against other martial artists became a common occurrence for the Gracie family. These became known as the Gracie challenge.
The Gracies invited anyone to attempt to defeat them in hand to hand combat. In Brazil there would be entire Karate schools that would challenge the Gracies and lose every match. In the early years of Gracie jiu jitsu in the United States there were many videos circulating on the internet of these challenge matches. They all ended the same. The martial artist representing another style would lose miserably. No one knew the importance of knowing how to fight on the ground.
The efficiency of Gracie jiu jitsu would become well known. It rapidly spread across the world after their repeated success in no holds barred competitions such as the UFC. Soon martial artists and fighters of all disciplines began to realize the importance of having good ground game. Bjj training became a necessity for any fighter involved in mixed martial arts. For many martial artists in general.
BJJ in MMA and the UFC
When Gracie jiu jitsu is brought up in conversation, usually people tend to associate it with mixed martial arts or the UFC. This is most likely because of the success that many members of the Gracie family has had in these competitions over the years.
It was also Helio Gracie’s eldest son Rorion who brought the art of bjj to the United States. He then started the Ultimate Fighting Championship to prove the effectiveness of the Gracie style against other styles of martial arts.
It was Royce Gracie who was chosen to compete in the first UFC competitions, because of his smaller size. The Gracies wanted to show the world that a smaller man could defeat a larger opponent by using their system.
The popularity of the Ultimate Fighting Championships grew and mixed martial arts became one of the most exciting combat sports. The UFC began as a competition of style against style, but competitors soon realized the lack of experience they had with grappling. They quickly understood that striking arts had a big disadvantage. Brazilian jiu jitsu training was a necessity for anyone that wanted to compete competitively in mma.
It is interesting that bjj would be popularized worldwide largely due to mixed martial arts competitions, but today’s mma has evolved into a sport in which competitors train in multiple disciplines. There is a lot of Muy Thai which is used for its dangerous striking with elbows and knees. Wrestling is used for it explosive take downs. And of course bjj is used for its ground control and submission techniques.
How Most BJJ Classes Are Structured
Before you start learning Brazilian jiu jitsu moves in class, it is important to stretch and warm up your muscles. As with advanced training and most forms of structured physical activities, you will almost always begin with some form of a warm-up routine.
If you are new to jiu jitsu, then the instructor will most likely focus on a lighter warm-up session. A lighter session will usually involve some basic exercises like push-ups and sit-ups, and perhaps laps around the gym. Stretching also happens once your body has warmed up a bit. A heavier warm-up would be longer and really designed to break a sweat and help you with conditioning for endurance.
After the warm-up, the next part of Brazilian jiu jitsu training usually focuses on techniques. Certain moves will be chosen by the instructor and broken apart so that students can perfect each stage. Mistakes are ironed out at this point, and the instructor will try to spend time with each student to make sure things are being done properly. More experienced students are often paired with newer ones, so that the former can assist the latter. This is especially important in larger classes where the instructor can hardly give everyone personal attention at the same time.
Bjj Class Training
After the warm-up and the practice part of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu moves comes the hands-on fighting. When you have a partner working with you, Bjj techniques are easier to execute and fighters can become complacent and over confident. By including a sparring session at the end of a lesson, students will need to apply their newly learned techniques against an opponent who will not know what their next move will be, and who will not be so willing to let them win.
No two training sessions will be the same; the moves you learn will vary depending on the class, but the general principles will be the same in terms of how the class is structured. You will be given time to get your body ready for the workout, you will have time to learn and practice different techniques, and finally you can apply what you’ve learned in a realistic fighting situation. Jiu-jitsu academies across North America will all give you the chance to learn martial art techniques in a controlled environment, and you will hopefully have fun doing so as well.