Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

Our History

The history of our style begins on the battlefields of feudal Japan, in the form of Japanese Jiu-Jitsu. Literally translating to “gentle art,” the meaning of Jiu-Jitsu first seems contradictory. Armlocks, chokes, and joint manipulations are well documented on ancient Japanese scrolls, and yet our style of fighting is known as the “gentle art.” The translation is accurate because Jiu-Jitsu is designed to be gentle on the practitioner, not the opponent. Jiu-Jitsu allows a smaller, weaker fighter to overcome the ferocity of a less technical, larger attacker.                   

One of the founding fathers of modern Jiu-Jitsu was known as Jigoro Kano. He began studying traditional Jiu-Jitsu to improve his frail physique, and quickly rose through his academy to the rank of instructor. After spending some time as a teacher of Jiu-Jitsu, Kano began to see some serious problems with the training portion of classical Jiu-Jitsu. He noticed that while the techniques were brutal and incredibly effective, it was near impossible to train at maximum capacity. In order to be able to engage in “randori” or live sparring on a more frequent basis, Kano decided to remove the more dangerous techniques such as eye gouging and groin strikes. He also limited joint locks to the elbow, reasoning that damage to the legs and shoulders was too risky. Shortly after implementing these changes, Kano opened his own academy, famously known as the Kodokan. He also began calling his new style “Judo,” which translates to “gentle way.”

Sometime around 1886, the Tokyo police force held a tournament in order to decide which fighting style was most effective in a physical confrontation. The students who studied at the Kodokan under Kano, and frequently engaged in live randori, won nearly every single match at the tournament. A short time after this victory, Kano sent his best student, Mitsuyo Maeda, to the United States to demonstrate the power of Judo. Maeda fought and won many no-holds-barred matches during his travels around the United States, Central America, and South America.

While traveling and fighting in the Americas, Maeda began to modify his style to better compete against western boxers and wrestlers. He began using some traditional Japanese Jiu-Jitsu techniques that were previously banned from randori. He also began calling his style Jiu-Jitsu, possibly to differentiate it from Judo out of respect for his master

Maeda had not only traveled to the Americas to compete in combat. He was also responsible for being a political ambassador in Brazil, in hopes of setting up a Japanese colony. During his time in Brazil, he became acquainted with Gastao Gracie. In appreciation of Gastao’s political connections and hospitality, Maeda shared the ancient knowledge of Jiu-Jitsu with his sons Carlos, Osvaldo, Gastao Jr., Jorge, and Helio.

The Gracies continued to incorporate techniques into their free sparring that were initially banned in Judo, thus creating a more lethal, effective style: Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. The most revolutionary of the Gracie’s innovations was their hierarchy of positions. They began recognizing that in Vale Tudo, as well as Jiu-Jitsu, certain positions allowed for more effective attack strategies, while others were forcibly more defensive. This idea led to the development of modern sport Jiu-Jitsu, in which points are awarded accordingly to positions that are more dominant.

As years passed, the knowledge of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu (or Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu), was handed down from generation to generation: from Carlos to his son Carlson; from Carlson to his son Carlson Jr. as well as Marcelo Alonso; and finally, to Daniel Vianna.

Daniel continues the tradition of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu at the Vianna Brothers BJJ Academy while remaining conscious of new and innovative techniques.

A new chapter of the legacy is taking root as Daniel is partnering with one of his original students and owner of Mettle Fitness, Jason Burns, to bring Carlson Gracie Jiu Jitsu to the South Side. Mettle Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Academy – A Carlson Gracie Team will continue this tradition of excellence and introduce a new audience to this efficient and effective art.

This is our history. This is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.