Jiu-jitsu history

History of Jiu-jitsu


Jujutsu first began during the Sengoku period (Age of Civil War”1467 to 1603) of the Muromachi period (1336 to 1573).combining various Japanese martial arts which were used on the battlefield for close combat in situations where weapons were ineffective.

In contrast to the neighbouring nations of China and Okinawa whose martial arts were centered around striking techniques, Japanese hand-to-hand combat forms focused heavily upon throwing, immobilizing, joint locks and choking as striking techniques were ineffective towards someone wearing armor on the battlefield.


The original forms of jujutsu such as Takenouchi-ryū also extensively taught parrying and counterattacking long weapons such as swords or spears via a dagger or other small weapon.

In the early 17th century during the Edo period, jujutsu would continue to evolve due to the strict laws which were imposed by the Tokugawa shogunate to reduce war as influenced by the Chinese social philosophy of Neo-Confucianism which was obtained during Hideyoshi’s invasions of Korea and spread throughout Japan via scholars such as Fujiwara Seika.

During this new ideology weapons and armor became unused decorative items, so hand-to-hand combat flourished as a form of self-defense and new techniques were created to adapt to the changing situation of unarmored opponents.  This included the development of various striking techniques in jujutsu which expanded upon the limited striking previously found in jujutsu which targeted vital areas above the shoulders such as the eyes, throat, and back of the neck.  However towards the 18th century the number of striking techniques was severely reduced as they were considered less effective and exert too much energy; instead striking in jujutsu primarily became used as a way to distract the opponent or to unbalance him in the lead up to a joint lock, strangle or throw.

During the same period the numerous jujutsu schools would challenge each other to duels which became a popular pastime for warriors under a peaceful unified government, from these challenges randori was created to practice without risk of breaking the law and the various styles of each school evolved from combating each other without intention to kill.

Jujutsu term

The term jūjutsu was not coined until the 17th century, after which time it became a blanket term for a wide variety of grappling-related disciplines and techniques.  Prior to that time, these skills had names such as “short sword grappling” (kogusoku koshi no mawari), “grappling” (kumiuchi), “body art” ( taijutsu), “softness” (yawara), “art of harmony” (wajutsu, yawarajutsu), “catching hand” ( torite), and even the “way of softness” (jūdō) (as early as 1724, almost two centuries before Kanō Jigorō founded the modern art of Kodokan Judo).

Matsuoka Katsunosuke (1836-1898)

Matsuoka Katsunosuke

Source: http://www.koryu.com/library/tthreadgill1.html

Matsuoka Katsunosuke was one of the most accomplished samurai of the late Tokugawa era.  Holding teaching licenses in Hozoin-ryu sojutsu from Komazawa Yoshitsugu, Jikishinkage-ryu kenjutsu from Sakakibara Kenkichi, Yoshin Ko-ryu from Totsuka Hikosuke, and Tenjin Shinyo-ryu jujutsu from Iso Matemaeon, Matsuoka also briefly studied Hokushin Itto-ryu kenjutsu with its founder, Chiba Shusaku.

Katsunosuke was born in Edo-Hantei, the Edo headquarters of the Kuroda clan in Kasumigaseki on the 26th of December, 1836.  Katsunosuke opened his first dojo in 1858 in the Asakusa district of Edo where he taught Tenjin Shinyo-ryu jujutsu.  In 1860, he was required to leave the running of this dojo to a subordinate, as he was appointed to teach kenjutsu and sojutsu by the Bakufu Kobusho (the government military training academy) as part of his duties to the Kuroda clan.   Shindo Yoshin-ryu Jujutsu was founded in 1864.  When his kenjutsu teacher, Sakakibara Kenkichi, was hired to personally protect Shogun Tokugawa Iemochi, Matsuoka was ordered by the Kuroda Clan to temporarily ascend to the position of Jikishinkage-ryu Hombu-cho.

After the return of headmaster Sakakibara Kenkichi, Katsunosuke resumed teaching at his Tenjin Shinyo-ryu dojo in Edo.

Emon Isomata

Emon Isomata was an Instructor in the Tenjin Shin’yō-ryū school of jūjutsu

Yagi Teinosuke

Yagi Teinosuke was an Instructor in Tenjin Shinyo Ryu, and student of Emon Isomata.

Fukuda Hachinosuke

Fukuda Hachinosuke was an Instructor in Tenjin Shinyo Ryu jujutsu.  Yagi also referred Jigoro Kano to Fukuda to learn Jiu-jitsu.

Kanō Jigorō  (1860 – 1938) 


Kanō Jigorō (嘉納 治五郎?, 28 October 1860 – 4 May 1938) was a Japanese educator and athlete, the founder of Judo.

Nakai Baisei (a friend of the family who was a member of the shogun‘s guard), mentioned that jūjutsu was an excellent form of physical training.  He showed Kanō a few techniques by which a smaller man might overcome a larger and stronger opponent.  Kanō decided he wanted to learn the art despite Nakai’s insistence that such training was out of date and somewhat dangerous.

When Kanō attended the Tokyo Imperial University in 1877, he started looking for jūjutsu teachers.   He first looked for bonesetters, called seifukushi.  His assumption was that doctors knew who the better martial art teachers were.  His search brought him to , who had been a student of Emon Isomata in the Tenjin Shin’yō-ryū school of jūjutsu.  Yagi, in turn, referred Kanō to Fukuda Hachinosuke, a bonesetter who taught Tenjin Shin’yō-ryū in a 10-mat room adjacent to his practice.

While under Iso’s tutelage, Kanō witnessed a demonstration by the Yōshin-ryū jūjutsu teacher Totsuka Hikosuke and later took part inrandori with members of Totsuka’s school.  Kanō was impressed by the Yōshin-ryū practitioners and realized that he might never be able to beat someone as talented as Totsuka simply by training harder: he also needed to train smarter.  It was this experience that first led Kanō to believe that to be truly superior, one needed to combine the best elements of several ryū, or schools, of jūjutsu including Yagyu Shingan-ryū Taijutsu.  Toward this end, he began to seek teachers who could provide him with superior elements of jūjutsu that he could adopt.

After Iso died in 1881, Kanō began training in Kitō-ryū with Iikubo Tsunetoshi (Kōnen).  Iikubo was expert in kata and throwing, and fond of randori.  Kanō applied himself thoroughly to learning Kitō-ryū, believing Iikubo’s throwing techniques in particular to be better than in the schools he had previously studied.  It is Iikubo who issued Kanō’s only verified jūjutsu rank and teaching credential, namely a certificate of Menkyo (not Menkyo kaiden) in Nihonden Kitō Jūdō, dated October 1883.

Kano began with Emon Isomata,  and then under Fukuda Hachinosuke.  When Fukuda passed away, Kano  trained with Iso Masatomo.  Finally, from 1881 he trained with Iikubo Tsunetoshi in Kito-ryu jujutsu.  He obtained menkyo kaiden in both Tenjin Shinyo-ryu and Kito-ryu.

Tsunejiro Tomita

Source: http://www.aloisiosilvabjj.com/index.php/history/history-of-brazilian-jiu-jitsu

Tenshin Jiu-Jitsu instructor and instructor to Maeda.

Mario Aleixo

Mario Aleixo was probably the first to teach jiu jitsu in Brazil in 1913.  He was teaching out of a sports club, but so were almost all academies.

Mitsuyo Maeda (1878-1941)


 Mitsuyo Maeda (前田 光世 Maeda Mitsuyo?, born December 18, 1878 in Funazawa village, Hirosaki, Aomori, Japan  – November 28, 1941), a Brazilian naturalized as Otávio Maeda (Portuguese pronunciation: [oˈtavju mɐˈedɐ]), was a Japanese judōka (judo expert) and prizefighter in no holds barred competitions.  He was also known asCount Combat or Conde Koma in Spanish and Portuguese, a nickname he picked up in Spain in 1908.  Along with Antônio Soshihiro Satake (another naturalized Brazilian), he pioneered judo in Brazil, the United Kingdom, and other countries.Maeda was fundamental to the development of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, including through his teaching of Carlos Gracie and others of the Gracie family.  He was also a promoter of Japanese emigration to Brazil. Maeda won more than 2,000 professional fights in his career.  His accomplishments led to him being called the “toughest man who ever lived” and being referred to as the father of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu.

In 1917 Maeda returned to Brazil accompanied by his English wife, May Iris Maeda and settled in Belem, Brazil.


He soon began to fight in the American Circus that was co-owned by Gastao Gracie.In November of 1919 Maeda returned to Manaus to challenge his friend Satake and this resulted in Maeda’s only defeat of his fighting career.  Satake eventually traveled to Europe and was never heard of again.  Maeda returned to Belem but by 1920 he was once again returning to England as a result of the rubber crisis that hit Brazil and left the fighting events with no investors.  By 1922 Maeda returned to Brazil as an immigration agent, settled in Belem and once again began teaching jiu-jitsu.

Alfredi Leconti

Alfredi Leconti was an Italian fighter who was managed by Gastao Gracie.  In January of 1916 the first jiu-jitsu tournament in the Amazon was organized by Maeda and the resulting champion of the event was Satake.  The very next day Maeda with Okura and Shimitsu traveled to Liverpool, England were they continued to host seminars and fight until 1917.  During this time Satake and Laku decided to remain in the Amazon and were teaching jiu-jitsu in Atletico Rio Negro and continuing to successfully fight challengers of Kodokan Judo.  In November of 1916 they faced their first defeat as Laku, due to Satake being ill, fought Alfredi Leconti.

Takeo Yano

also known as Takeo Iano, was a Japanese judoka who helped in the establishment of Jiu-Jitsu in Brazil. Takeo was a standout in Kodokan Judo.  He worked with the Ono brothers, Yassuitchi and Naotchi.  They taught at Judo North of Brazil.  He also taught in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.  Along with Kazuo Yoshida in Bahia (founder of Bahia Judo, they helped to establish Brazilian jiu-jitsu.  In 1937, Takeo fought Hélio Gracie to a draw.  As a fighter he took on the name Oriental Demon.  His earlier black belts included Jose Jurandir Moura whom he taught in Fortaleza, Brazil, Cisando Lima, and Francisco Sá. 

Takeshi Namiki

Yassuiti Ono

Geo Omori ( – 1938)


Geo Omori (Omori jyoji) is first mentioned in 1928 as he begins a fruitful professional fighting career.  Omori had an academy of jiu-jitsu in São Paulo in 1928 (Choque 1, chp. 8).  Geo opened the first Jujitsu/Judo school in Brazil in 1909.  He taught in Rio de Janeiro, and in 1925 opened a school in São Paulo.  He was instrumental in the establishment of Brazilian jiu-jitsu by establishing the first Jujitu school in São Paulo.  He would later instruct key Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu founder Luiz França.  His other student included Carlos Pereira.  He was one of the first kings of mixed martial arts of his era.  He sparked the Vale Tudo craze of the 1920s and 1930s in Brazil.  Geo had an extensive fight history engaging fighters of various styles including capoeira, boxing, and wrestling.  A 1928 issue of the New York Times highlighted one of his fights against a “negro” capoeira fighter, in which Geo Omori won.  He fought many members of the Gracie family including George Gracie and Carlos Gracie.  His feud with Carlos Gracie is well documented.  One place of a documented fight of his was Circus Queirolos, a Brazilian Circus.  His death in 1938 was attributed to food poisoning.  Geo Omori would draw against Carlos Gracie.  He would also force a draw against Helio.  Geo Omori would draw against George Gracie and later lose to George when Geo wouldn’t answer the bell in a 10 round fight.

1925 opened Judo academy in Brazil


In 1925 Geo Omori a Judo/jiu-jitsu champion who had been practicing and teaching judo in Rio de Janeiro since 1909 opened the first Judo/Jiu-Jitsu Academy in Sao Paulo, Brazil.  Geo Omori taught many students to the rank of black belt such as above mentioned Carlos Pereira and Luiz Franca who had also been students of Maeda.

Fred Ebert

Source: http://www.global-training-report.com/myths2_GIA1988.htm

Ebert fought Helio Gracie in 1932.  The fight was stopped by the police, not because it was too violent (it was a grappling match), but because neither fighter was making progress toward a victory, it was late, and they wanted the crowd to disperse.

Donato Pires dos Reis

Donato Pires dos Reis, the first  jiu jitsu instructor officially certified by Conde Koma, opens up his jiu jitsu academy in September 1930.  Carlos and brother George are assistant instructors.

Jacyntho Ferro

A neighborhood wrestler, Ferro started training Judo under Maeda in 1915.  It has been alleged Carlos Gracie trained under Ferro as well.  Ferro was perceived as “Check Koma’s most finished understudy,” indicating interviews from Folha do Norte on the fourth August 1920 and fourteenth December 1923. Pedreira makes a considerably bolder case that Carlos was not a general understudy of Maeda but more under Ferro.

Euclydes “Tatu” Hatem

Hatem mixed catch wrestling with Judo to create Luta Livre.  He used his unique style to defeat George Gracie in 1940, and helped push the popularity of Luta Livre.  George Gracie was so impressed by Luta Livre that to the dismay of Carlos and Helio Gracie, he trained in it.

 Carlos Gracie


Carlos Gracie (September 14, 1902 – October 7, 1994) was a Brazilian martial artistwho is credited with being one of the primary developers of modern jiu-jitsu in Brazil.  Along with his younger brother Hélio Gracie and fellow students Luis Franca andOswaldo Fadda, Gracie helped develop Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ) based on knowledge from Mitsuyo Maeda, and is widely considered to be the martial-arts patriarch of theGracie family.  Carlos Gracie acquired his knowledge of Jiu-Jitsu by studying in Belemunder Maeda and his students.

Luiz França Filho


Luiz França Filho was a Brazilian martial artist and one of the primary founders ofBrazilian jiu-jitsu.[3] França was a student of Soshihiro Satake, Geo Omori, and Mitsuyo Maeda, from whom he learned Kodokan judo (known prior to 1925 as Kano jiu-jitsu).

Franca’s history


Luiz Franca a black belt under Maeda moved to Sao Paolo where he trained for a few years with Geo Omori and then moved to Rio de Janeiro.  Franca’s main focus was self defense for the armed forces and he also devoted himself to teaching jiu-jitsu to the population of the north zone of Rio de Janeiro.  It is from Master Luiz Franca that one of the legends of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu,  Master Oswaldo Fadda, emerged.

Carlos Pereira

Student under Gio Omori.

Oswaldo Fadda ( – 2005)

Source: (Major Historical Rivalries in Jiu-jitsu, Jiu-jitsu times)

Oswaldo Fadda was a student of Luiz Franca, who was a student of Maeda as well as Geo Omori.   Oswaldo made it a point to spread teach Jiu-jitsu to the poor of the favelas and the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro. To be noted is that the suburbs of Rio de Janeiro are the poorer areas while the center tends to be a richer area (which is where Helio’s (and Carlos’) students tended to be from).  Due to the lack of respect, Oswaldo Fadda issued a challenge to Helio Gracie’s school.    In 1954 Master Fadda, in an effort to prove that Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu was not dominated by the Gracies sent a letter to the newspaper inviting the Gracie’s to a challenge.  In the newspaper letter Fadda said: “We want to challenge the Gracie’s, we respect them as our opponents but we don’t fear them. I have about 20 students for the challenge.”  Helio accepted the challenge and the matches were set in Helio’s academy.  Helio’s students would yell “sapato olho roxo” (which means shoe shiner – a poor man’s occupation.)  Osvaldo’s students proceeded to win 19 of 20 matches often via the use of leg locks.  Depending on whom you ask, Helio was also defeated by Oswaldo.  Each school would go on to teach their respective styles of BJJ.  Helio would state publicly in the 1950’s that “All you need is one Fadda to show that Jiu-Jitsu is not the Gracie’s privilege.”  It is because of Oswaldo’s students being able to effectively defeat the Gracie’s using attacks such as the knee reap that many of them were later deemed to be illegal in BJJ competition.

Fadda opened his own academy in January of 1950 in Bento Ribeiro, a suburb in Rio de Janeiro where he had been born and raised.

Guanair Vial

Almir Ribeiro

Milton Pereira

Nahum Luiz

Luiz “Frankenstein” Carlos

Zoroastro Neves

Pedro Hemetério

Armando Wriedt

João Alberto Barreto

Hèlio Vigio

Moacir Ferraz

Algênio de Barros

Yassuiti Ono

Roberto Leitao

Helio Gracie


Hélio Gracie (Portuguese pronunciation: [ˈɛlju ˈɡɾejsi]; October 1, 1913 – January 29, 2009) was a Brazilian martial artist who, together with his brother Carlos Gracie, founded the martial art of Gracie jiu-jitsu and with Luiz França and Oswaldo Fadda the martial art of Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ).

Francisco Mansur

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