Roots of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
Jiu-Jitsu may be the most ancient martial art. It was developed by Buddhist monks in India more than 4,000 years ago. It’s influence spread through China and eventually to Japan.
Jiu-jitsu was the secondary fighting science of the Samurai warrior. His primary fighting science being with his sword. The Samurai needed a way to defend himself against other Samurai when his sword wasn’t available. Because Samurai wore armor, where punches and kicks would be ineffective, a fighting science of throws, joint manipulations, and chokes evolved.
After the Meiji restoration in the last century, where the Samurai class essentially dissolved, jiu-jitsu nearly went extinct. It only survived as practiced by thugs and as a very restricted sportive form of Judo.
Jiu-Jitsu Comes to Brazil
In 1914 a Japanese jiu-jitsu expert and freestyle fighting champion, Esai Maeda, emigrated from Japan to Brazil to help establish a Japanese immigration colony in that developing country. He was aided by Gastao Gracie, a Brazilian politician of Scottish decent.
To show his gratitude, the Maeda taught jiu-jitsu to Gastao’s son, Carlos Gracie.
Carlos and his brothers, particularly the smaller sickly Helio, modified the ancient fighting system — adding new techniques and modifying or discarding less efficient ones — by testing them in the crucible of actual “vale tudo” (no-holds-barred) fights. Because of this, jiu-jitsu became Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, a more efficient and complete fighting system.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Today
This tradition of adding new techniques and modifying the old continues to this day and is unique among the martial arts. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is more vibrant and alive than any other martial art or fighting system the world has ever known.
Today, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is being spread worldwide thanks to Carlos Gracie teaching his brothers, sons, and grandsons.
Renzo Gracie is Carlos Gracie’s grandson. He has learned Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu from the old masters — his grandfather and great uncles, his father and his cousins. He has a unique reputation of never turning down a fight and, because of his professional and “back alley” matches, has perfected a very efficient personal style of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Matt and Nick Serra were two of Renzo’s original students when he moved from Brazil to New York City. Both became his first American black belts.
Matt Serra has gone onto UFC fame, including defeating George St. Pierre for the UFC Middle Weight Championship in UFC 69.
Madama Jiu-Jitsu’s head instructor, Josh Madama, is a Matt and Nick Serra black belt and still continues to hone his art at the Serra’s Long Island Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu school. Josh has also trained under Renzo and has accompanied Renzo to Japan to help prepare him for mixed martial arts events.
At the Abu Dhabi trials in New Jersey, Renzo Gracie told one of Josh Madama’s students, “Good for you learning jiu-jitsu from Josh Madama! You’ll learn good jiu-jitsu from Josh!”
No higher praise.