The origins of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) can be traced back to the early 20th century in Japan. The art originally evolved from the Japanese martial art of Jiu-Jitsu, which focused on self-defense and close-quarters combat techniques. Esai Maeda, a Japanese judoka and student of Jigoro Kano (founder of judo), migrated to Brazil in the early 20th century and began teaching his art to the Gracie family.
Carlos Gracie, one of the members of the Gracie family, became particularly interested in Maeda’s teachings and further developed the art to emphasize leverage, technique, and ground fighting. Carlos, along with his brother Helio Gracie, refined and adapted the techniques to accommodate their smaller frames and weaker physical attributes.
The Gracie family popularized BJJ through their challenge matches and participation in mixed martial arts competitions, most notably the early Vale Tudo fights in Brazil. BJJ has continued to evolve and grow as a martial art, combat sport, and self-defense system. It has become an integral part of mixed martial arts (MMA) and is widely practiced and respected worldwide, with numerous BJJ academies and tournaments promoting the art and its principles.