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Samurai
Although the early history of Jiu Jitsu is often difficult to ascertain, it is certain that Japanese samurai warriors were responsible for the creation of a highly developed martial art called Jiu Jitsu, which matured in Japan during the Edo period. The development of the martial art goes hand in hand with the historical development in Japan. With the beginning of the Edo period in 1603, Japan experienced a comparatively peaceful period. According to the saying "live in peace but do not forget war", unarmed martial arts began to flourish.
Samurai
In the pre-Edo era between the 8th and 16th centuries, Japan was in a constant state of civil war and at that time many fighting systems were used, practiced and perfected on the battlefield. The history of Jiu Jitsu during this period is uncertain, as the teachers kept everything secret so as not to give an advantage to their enemies. However, the fact that the development process of Jiu Jitsu started at that time is very realistic, because the techniques were constantly tested and perfected in combat. If you trace Jiu Jitsu back to its first verifiable origins, you end up in Japan in 1603, which was the beginning of the Edo era, named after the capital city of Edo at the time. This era is considered the most peaceful era in the history of Japan. During this period (1603 to 1868), the feudal civil wars that had plagued Japan for centuries began to disappear. The traditions of classical bujūtsu (martial arts) required samurais to learn a method of self-defense for situations where weapons could not be used. Armored martial arts began to give way to weaponless styles, which incorporated many of the striking and grappling techniques of the older styles. During this time, the focus of combat training shifted from martial arts to personal protection in a civilian setting. At that time, grappling techniques were primarily researched and developed for ground fighting. During this time, a number of names were used to describe empty hand fighting systems, including Yawara, Taijūtsu, Torite, Kenpo, Hakuda, and Kogusoku. Later, all of these styles were referred to as kōryu (old school) Jiu Jitsu. It is estimated that over 500 recorded Jiu Jitsu systems were practiced in Japan during its golden age from 1680 to 1850.
Jigoro Kano
With the profound cultural and social changes that followed the Edo period, there arose an urgent need to combine the practice of jiu jitsu with a positive way of life adapted to modern times. For this reason, Jigorō Kanō (1860-1938), a highly educated man and practitioner of jiu jitsu, developed his own approach to teaching the art in the late 1800s, which came to be known as Kano Jiu Jitsu and later as Kōdōkan Jūdō.
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Jigoro Kano
After the Edo period, the martial art lost prestige in Japanese society. During the following Meiji era, a highly educated man named Jigoro Kano (1860-1938) was responsible for the revival of Jiu Jitsu. He understood that he did not need to fundamentally change anything about the martial art itself, but only to restore its prestige among the population. He realized that the word jūjutsu (the original name for jiu jitsu) was no longer liked by society, as it always reminded of the word bujūtsu, which stood for the old Japanese military arts. So it was that in the late 1800s he developed his own approach to teaching this art, which he called Kōdōkan Jūdō. By replacing the second character jutsu with the character dō, meaning way or teaching, Kano sought to give the art a deeper spiritual meaning. Kano's pedagogy was based on three main goals: Self-defense education (shobuho), physical education (reshinho), and moral education (shushinho). The Kōdōkan Jūdō teaching methodology eventually replaced the old Jiu Jitsu methods. It was adopted into the public school system, the military, and law enforcement training. Jigoro Kano first made changes to his martial art in the 1920s when he began to neglect ground work. This led to the fact that during this time competitive jūdo was gaining popularity and Kano feared that a mentality of "winning at all costs" would eclipse the higher moral goals of jūdo. Since he felt that while grip techniques were extremely useful in competitions, they were not as important for self-defense, he put the focus on throwing and striking techniques. A few decades later, the tremendous growth of athletic competition regulated judo and eventually limited its combat effectiveness. The jūdō sport quickly gained popularity around the world and the self-defense aspect of the art was gradually forgotten.
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Mitsuyo Maeda
Jūjutsu experienced its greatest boom towards the end of the 19th century. What people admired most was that the martial art enabled a small person to defeat a larger and stronger opponent by using principles such as leverage and compliance. Jiu Jitsu representatives from Japan competed against American wrestlers and boxers to prove the superiority of the Japanese style. Mitsuyo Maeda, in particular, gained great popularity at this time. He traveled the world spreading Jiu Jitsu through prize fights and demonstrations in almost every corner of the Western Hemisphere.
Mitsuyo Maeda
In Brazil, Jiu Jitsu gained great prominence around 1914 with the arrival of Mitsuyo Maeda, who was known by the ring name Conde Koma. Although several other Japanese teachers had already taught in Brazil, Maeda had the greatest influence. He trained at Jigoro Kano's academy during the martial arts' heyday under the legendary Sakujiro Yokoyama. In the early 1900s, after staying in the United States as a representative of the Kodokan- Jūdo, he broke away from the academy and traveled around the world, competing in many countries, including Brazil. During this time, Maeda stopped using the term jūdo and returned to the old generic name jūjutsu, which became known as jiu jitsu in the West, as mentioned earlier. In addition, he fought for money and even participated in staged competitions in which the winner was determined before the fight, which was a serious violation of the philosophy of Jigorō Kano.
Hélio Gracie
Hélio Gracie became a legendary Jiu Jitsu Grandmaster whose lifelong dedication to the art positively impacted the lives of thousands of people around the world. His older brother Carlos had a very great influence on Hélio, who looked to him as a role model. Carlos was the clan leader, so to speak, of the Gracie family, which is what you arrive at when you trace the tradition of Gracie Jiu Jitsu back to its earliest roots. With the founding of the original UFC by Hélio's eldest son Rorion and the victories of his son Royce in 1993, Hélio gained international recognition for his dedication to the preservation and promotion of Jiu Jitsu.
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Hélio Gracie
In 1914, Maeda met Gastão Gracie, a fight promoter, in Brazil. Subsequently, Gastão's eldest son Carlos became a student of Maeda and this in turn resulted in the youngest son Hélio also beginning to train Jiu Jitsu. Together, the Gracie brothers founded the "Academia Gracie de Jiu-Jitsu" in 1932, ushering in a new era in Jiu Jitsu. Their academy quickly became very successful and well attended. Carlos was the philosopher of the Gracie clan, so to speak, and always gave his younger brother Helio valuable advice on all aspects of life. He was the first Gracie to learn and teach the art of Jiu Jitsu. His acumen also played an important role in the preservation and promotion of the martial art in Brazil. To prove the effectiveness of the Japanese art of Jiu Jitsu, Hélio participated in competitions against wrestlers, boxers and capoeiras in Brazil. Following the proven formula of his Japanese predecessors, he often competed against bigger and stronger opponents to prove that it is possible for a small person to defend himself against any attacker. He also competed against Japanese Jūdo / Jiu Jitsu black belts to prove that the Gracie technique was equal to the Japanese one. Great success was achieved by Hélio, who weighed about 65 kilograms, through his fight with a high-level opponent such as the German-American wrestler Fred Ebert, who weighed 85 kilograms. Probably his most notable performance came against heavyweight Jūdō legend Masahiko Kimura, who weighed as much as 90 kilograms. Throughout his life, however, Hélio Gracie has always emphasized that he did not consider himself a professional fighter, as he never fought with the goal of making money or proving himself. His greatest task was to increase his students' confidence in the techniques of Jiu Jitsu. To this end, he continually perfected a teaching method that allowed any person, even those not athletically gifted, to learn the basics of self-defense in 40 private lessons. His students included men, women and children from all walks of life.
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Kampf Kimura
A fight that went down in the history books: On October 23, 1951, Hélio faced the best heavyweight in Jūdō history, Masahiko Kimura. Kimura challenged Hélio to the match to prove that Japanese Jūdō was superior to Gracie Jiu Jitsu. Because of the huge weight advantage of over 25 kilograms, Kimura claimed that he would win "at the first grip" with a devastating throw. He also said that if Gracie could hold on for more than three minutes, he could consider himself the winner.
Kampf Kimura
Between 1932 and 1936 Hélio fought against the best Japanese fighters who visited Brazil and remained undefeated. These victories prompted a delegation of Japanese masters to come to Brazil and promote Hélio Gracie to fourth degree black belt in Jūdō, trying to convince him and his brothers to follow the modern Japanese sports system - Jūdō. However, the Gracie brothers decided to maintain their independence from the Japanese and continue to teach their own method of Jiu Jitsu. The Japanese felt that the only way to silence the Gracies' troublesome opposition was to find someone who could challenge and defeat Hélio Gracie. Finally, in order to restore the Jūdō's tarnished reputation, Masahiko Kimura challenged Hélio Gracie to a fight. Kimura immediately knocked Gracie down with an osotogari and had no great difficulty getting past Gracie's open guard. However, once he landed in side control, he could not find an opening through which to finish the fight. In an interview before the fight, Hélio Gracie demonstrated Kimura's preferred armbar, now known as the Kimura Lock, and said he trained hard to defend it. And indeed, he held it several times. In the third minute of the second round, however, Kimura was able to establish his grip. Kimura then got into position to finish the hold and slowly applied pressure. Hélio's amazing agility made for a frightening scene, giving the impression that his arm could break at any moment. Believing that his brother would not give up, Carlos Gracie ran to the mat, pushed Kimura and interrupted the fight, which thus ended. Hélio nevertheless received the greatest possible recognition from all sides for his fighting style, as he had endured for over 13 minutes against the best Jūdō fighter in Japan, who was 25 kilograms heavier.
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UFC
Royce Gracie is the son of the famous Grand Master Hélio Gracie. As soon as Royce could walk, he began to learn the art of Jiu Jitsu from his father and from his brothers Rorion, Relson, Rickson and Royler. He competed in his first competition at the age of 8 and began giving lessons at the age of 14. He became known mainly for his participation and victory in the Ultimate Fighting Championship 1 (UFC). An event that catapulted Jiu Jitsu as a martial art and the Gracie family name to world prominence.
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Royce Gracie
Hélio passed on his knowledge of the martial art to his sons. Royce, Rorion, Relson, Rickson and Royler all became famous Jiu Jitsu personalities. On November 12, 1993, Royce participated in the event that would change the face of martial arts forever, making Royce Gracie one of the most recognizable faces in the martial arts world. The event took place in Denver Colorado and was called the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). A challenge where martial artists of all martial arts would gather to decide who was the most dominant style in a no holds barred event. Similar to the "Vale-Tudo" fights that had made his father Hélio and brother Rickson famous before him. The event was planned by Royce Gracie's brother, Rorion Gracie, with the help of John Milius and Art Davie. Royce won the tournament despite being the lightest fighter in the competition. Royce also fought in the second, third and fourth events, winning the second and fourth, while he was unable to compete in the final of the third event due to an injury sustained in the semifinals.
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