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BJJ IN MMA
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BJJ IN MMA

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The art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is one of the most popular forms of grappling in the world today. BJJ has a complex series of transitional movements, which includes positional control, guard passes, sweeps, and high calibre submissions. The evolution of the art has grown significantly since Royce Gracie first starred in the inaugural UFC event. Nowadays the development of BJJ's transitional components has become extensively dynamic, with many high profile athletes adding significant innovation. 

What This Article Covers:

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is now one of the headline acts in the world of Mixed Martial Arts. With the rise of MMA, through events like the UFC and One championship, athletes have been developing significantly different types of jiu jitsu techniques into their MMA repertoire. It is quite common to see Mixed Martial Artists utilising submissions like Rear Naked Chokes, Armbars, Kimuras, Guillotines, and Triangles, to secure wins in their UFC matches. The rise of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu techniques inside the octagon is becoming increasingly more popular across the board.

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THE HISTORY OF BJJ

The history of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu dates back to the early 20th century, when one of Kano Jigoro's most skilful students, Mitsuyo Maeda, traveled to Brazil. Mitsuyo was highly proficient in Kodokan Judo as he demonstrated the art in many Brazilian theatres. While demonstrating at the La Paz theatre in Rio de Janeiro a young Carlos Gracie was in attendance. After the demonstration Mitsuyo would agree to take Carlos on as a student. Carlos would train for the next 5 years learning all the principles of Kodokan Judo, as Carlos became one of Mitsuyo's top students. Carlos would eventually teach the art to his brothers Oswaldo, Gastao, George, and Helio, as they became proficient in the art.

It was only Helio that seemed to struggle with some of those Judo throws, as he was always smaller than his older brothers. It was this moment that Helio began developing a system of grappling that he could use against bigger and stronger opponents. The birth of Gracie Jiu Jitsu saw the design of a dynamic series of techniques that incorporated positional control, sweeping techniques, and prolific submission attacks. The Gracie clan would build a legacy that would fast become the most sought after grappling art in the world. The Gracie's would challenge anyone throughout Brazil, as they defeated opponent after opponent leaving Pro Wrestlers, Luta Livre fighters, and Catch Wrestlers in their wake. Gracie Jiu Jitsu would become the number one Martial Art in Brazil, as they continued their onslaught of all styles of Martial Arts.

THE HISTORY OF MMA

The history of Mixed Martial Arts dates back to Ancient Greece, as the Greek army would battle in contests of pankration. The art of pankration consisted of boxing, wrestling, and jiu jitsu street fight techniques. Many of the pankration fights ended with submissions, or unconscious combatants, and on rare occasions, death. This Martial Art became the national sport in the ancient Olympic Games, as the only rules in the match were no biting or eye gouging. This brutal contest lasted for centuries, as eventually the Roman emperor Theodosius banned the Olympic Games forcing the end to the popular art of pankration. The art form would eventually have some significant influence on the more modern day MMA.

In 1925 the famous Brothers Carlos and Helio Gracie opened a Gracie Jiu Jitsu Academy in Rio de Janeiro. After developing the art of Gracie Jiu Jitsu, the brothers put out what was known as the Gracie challenge through all the local newspapers. The article read "if you want a broken arm, or rib see Carlos Gracie", as challenges came thick and fast, the Gracie's disposed of their challengers with ease. The Gracie's would draw in such a big crowd, that the fights had to be moved to local soccer stadiums, giving the art significant notoriety. This caused many boil overs with Luta Livre fighters, who would also claim their art was the best. These early MMA fights were known as Vale Tudo, and as the art of combat jiu jitsu thrived it became the pinnacle of combat sports in Brazil.

The next generation of Gracie fighters would breed exceptional athletes like Royler, Rickson, Renzo, and Royce Gracie, as they followed in the footsteps of Carlos and Helio. The new generation of Gracie's continued the feud between many of the Brazilian Luta Livre fighters, as they pursued the domination of Vale Tudo in Brazil. As the Gracie clan continued developing their Martial Arts, they decided to spread Gracie Jiu Jitsu throughout America. By the early 1990's Rorion Gracie co-founded The Ultimate Fighting Championship, which was a contest to see which Martial Art style was the best. Rorion would choose Royce Gracie to represent the family, as Royce prepared for his debut inside the octagon. This moment in time has inspired many people from all over the world to train in MMA, or BJJ, as Royce Gracie dominated UFC 1. This was the birth of modern MMA, as fighters began trying to adapt their styles, to become more all round fighters.

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THE MIX OF BJJ AND MMA

After watching Royce Gracie destroy three different styles of Martial Arts including the shootfighting of Ken shamrock, the world would finally differentiate different forms of jiu jitsu like japanese jiu jitsu and kenpo jiujitsu, leaving BJJ squarely in the spotlight. As MMA started to develop so did the necessity for executing submissions inside the cage. MMA would take the best parts of boxing, kickboxing, wrestling, and now BJJ would prove that final element to bind them all together. Nowadays typical Mixed Martial Artists have an Arsenal of striking, throwing, and ground fighting techniques in order to become a complete Mixed Martial Artist. As the ground fighting aspect has developed in MMA with ground and pound striking, the need to have a greater ability to execute submissions has become paramount. Many MMA fighters are using submission techniques to finish their fights, as athletes like Amanda Nunes, Tom Aspinall, Vicente Luque, Anthony Hernandez, and Charles Oliveira, are leading the charge in the centre of the octagon.

THE IMPACT BJJ HAS HAD ON MMA

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has had a significant impact on Mixed Martial Arts, as what was once a strikers game has now become extremely diverse. BJJ has now shaped how an MMA fight will go, as a striker is constantly having to watch out for takedowns. BJJ fighters, and american jiu jitsu fighters for that matter, have tremendous skills in closing the distance, and executing fast and controlled takedowns. This is forcing strikers to be more cautious when they attempt to fight an athlete that specialises in BJJ. Another aspect of how BJJ has shaped MMA, is in the ground fighting aspect. Traditionally a good wrestler will be able to subdue an opponent on the ground, and land dominant strikes to end the fight. With the addition of an experienced BJJ Fighter, it is not as simple as just landing ground and pound anymore, as strikers and wrestlers will need to be very cautious when throwing punches at a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu opponent. BJJ Fighters are notorious for using the impatience of a striker to their advantage, so they can execute sweeps or submissions.

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WHAT ARE THE MOST COMMON BJJ MOVES IN MMA

There are many common BJJ moves that happen inside an MMA fight, as the combination of Jiu Jitsu and Mixed Martial Arts has become diversely intertwined. The ground game of MMA has become extremely well versed in BJJ techniques, as many of the traditional components like positional escapes, submission escapes, sweeping techniques, guard passing, and submission attacks are all heavily used. Some exceptional athletes will even use highly advanced maneuvers that some fans call ninja jiu-jitsu. Some of the most common moves used in the octagon are;

The Rear Naked Choke - this choke is the number one submission used in Mixed Martial Arts. It involves taking an opponent's back, securing both hooks around their waist, and using an arm around the neck to choke the opponent. The Guillotine - this is another deadly choke that has a high percentage of efficiency. To secure this choke a fighter must use a front headlock position to wrap their arm around the neck, while using their legs to secure their opponent's body. The Armbar - this submission is one of the most highly advantageous submissions in the BJJ arsenal, as it involves securing an opponent's arm with their legs, before hyperextending the arm and stressing the elbow joint. The Kimura - this move is a popular choice, as it is secured by catching the kimura grip and pushing an opponent's arm up behind their back, this is a bent arm lock that stresses the shoulder joint. The Triangle - this submission is one of the most famous in MMA, as it involves catching an opponent's arm and neck with your legs. Once your legs are locked together in a triangle position, it becomes extremely hard to escape.

There are plenty of fundamental moves that go on inside an MMA fight, as mostly all of the ground transitions come from the art. Movements like passing the guard and escaping bad positions all come from BJJ. It's quite common to see a BJJ fighter getting pounded on, but in most cases they have excellent guard retention which enables them to catch the half or full guard, and defend punches. BJJ Fighters also utilise many different sweeps from underneath an opponent, as this skill is one of the most important when trying to deal with a striker in MMA.

WHAT IS MORE DEADLY IN MMA: STRIKING OR BJJ

Trying to split the difference between striking and ground fighting is extremely hard. To understand which art is more deadly inside the cage, it really comes down to each individual situation. For example if the striker has significant abilities, and is good at takedown defense, then it's easy to imagine that the striker will have a very successful night. The same goes for a BJJ fighter, if they are up against someone who is not really proficient in striking, then you can imagine they will achieve a submission rather quickly. Trying to measure which style is more deadly is next to impossible, but one thing is for certain you don't want to be in the way of a heavy strike, and you cannot stay undefended in a tight choke. Each of these styles are just as deadly as each other on any given day, it really does come down to how well the practitioner is executing their own style.

Strikers will always be deadly inside the cage, as they have a rule set that allows them to strike on the feet and on the ground. This makes for an interesting challenge for BJJ fighters, as they will use the failed attempts at landing shots to maximise their movements, as they attempt to escape the position, secure sweeping techniques, or execute a submission. There are disadvantages for a BJJ fighter inside the cage, as when they try to lock onto a submission, their opponents will be extremely slippery due to the blood and sweat. This makes achieving submissions an extremely tricky process. Everybody has heard of a puncher's chance, as strikers seem to have many avenues for victory, compared to a BJJ fighter's seemingly smaller chance to win. Considering that there is nearly double the amount of knockouts compared to submissions every year in the UFC, and even though both styles are extremely deadly, striking in the cage has an advantage.

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THE FUTURE OF BJJ IN MMA

As the growth of MMA in America is rapidly rising, so is the level of competitiveness, as warriors are lining up to enter the cage every week. BJJ is also growing exponentially in the US, as reports have come out saying it is now the second most trained Martial Art behind boxing.

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This speaks volumes about the future of BJJ in MMA, as athletes that are brazen enough to take the leap into the cage, are now training extensively in the formidable ground fighting combat. This is great news for the future of the sport, as a healthy relationship between striking and grappling is building stronger everyday.

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