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JIU JITSU LEGENDS
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JIU JITSU LEGENDS

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The art of BJJ is a highly decorated form of grappling that uses an extremely advanced series of technical movements. Starting on their feet two combatants will battle for grips, and foot position, in an attempt to utilise a combination of judo and wrestling takedowns to get the fight to the mat. Once the fight has become a ground fight, practitioners will use systematic movements designed specifically to transition past an opponent's defensive mechanisms, as they look for dominant control positions. Once the practitioner has their opponent neutralised they will look to set them up with a range of different submissions like joint locks and choke holds.

What This Article Covers:

The art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu was first designed for self defense purposes, but as the art evolved so did its thrill for competition. In today's format, the modern era of grappling has now headed down a path of combat sports. Throughout the rise of international grappling, the art has produced some of the world's best Gi and best no gi jiu jitsu fighters of all time. Many of these prestigious athletes are known as Jiu Jitsu legends, as they have driven the sport into brave new heights. The rise of platforms like the UFC, the IBJJF, and the ADCC have paved the way for a significant impact in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu popularity. 

Arguably the greatest grappler in history, Gordon Ryan has joined forces with BJJFanatics.com to share his complete BJJ system.  Check it out here!

jiu jitsu iconic legends

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THE HISTORY OF BJJ

The origins of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu derived from ancient forms of Japanese Jiu Jitsu that were created in Feudal Japan by the ancient Samurai. The hand to hand combat originally utilised various forms of striking, before the Samurai realised their strikes were ineffective against assailants wearing armour. This breeded a need to develop a new system, where their Martial Art could be used to unarm, and dismount an assailant on horseback. As the wars raged the Samurai taught civilians many of the principles involved in Jiu Jitsu, so they could make a stand and defend their lives. There were many different forms of Jiu Jitsu that derived from the original form. It wasn't until the 19th century that Kano Jigoro combined elements of different Martial Arts he had learnt, and created his own form of kodokan judo. 

Kano Jigoro taught many students throughout his lifetime, including the famous Japanese traveller and prizefighter Mitsuyo Maeda. Throughout many of his travels Mitsuyo helped spread the Martial Art throughout the civilised world, including the South American country of Brazil. It was here that Mitsuyo befriended a Brazilian businessman named Gastao Gracie senior, who hired him to run seminars out of the Belem Circus. During one of his seminars Gastao's eldest son Carlos Gracie fell in love with the Martial Art, and as a result he was introduced to Mitsuyo and became one of his students. Over the next five or six years, Carlos mastered the Martial Art before passing it on to his younger brother's Gastao Jr, George, Oswaldo, and Helio Gracie.

Due to the nature of many of the throws involved in kodokan judo, Helio Gracie struggled to utilise the techniques against his larger, and stronger brothers. This would force Helio to develop his own ground fighting system, which was made up mainly of transitional movements, choke holds, and joint locks. This art form was known as Gracie Jiu Jitsu, as members of his clan helped develop the art even further. Helio's art alligned heavily with self defense, while his older brother Carlos saw the Martial Art as an opportunity to make money. Carlos developed many of the aspects involved with competitive Jiu Jitsu, which became a comprehensive bjj comp system. As the two factions developed their own art forms, there remained a divide between the brothers, as basically two different Martial Arts were created.

INNOVATIONS WITHIN THE ART OF BJJ

One of the biggest innovators of BJJ was Royce Gracie, and even though he was the weaker of the Gracie clan members he stood up and put the Gracie name on the map. Royce Gracie's UFC debut was iconic for the sport of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, as he made easy work of his opponents which included Gerard Gordeau, Art Jimmerson, and Ken Shamrock. Due to the results of UFC one, the art of BJJ had now been televised, as people all over the world became interested in learning this highly competitive combat sport. This moment in time became the backbone of what Brazilian Jiu Jitsu would become, which was an extraordinary form of Martial Arts.

Another innovation that changed the face of grappling, was the creation of the attacking format of the half guard. The half guard has been around since the early days of kodokan judo, but later fell out of favour during the 1940's. Roberto Correa was a well known student of Carlos Gracie Junior, and at the age of 18 Roberto was a high ranked purple belt. In 1989 Roberto suffered through a serious injury to his knee, and this became a long term issue for the young athlete. As a result, Roberto was forced to use a half guard tactic to stop his training partners from passing his guard. Roberto began using the half guard as an offense, and before long he developed the underhook. This simple movement revolutionised the half guard position, as it became an offensive weapon. Roberto mastered his new concept, and before long his back take from half guard, and eventually his deep half guard became his speciality. Roberto's work on the half guard has become one of the most innovative pieces of the jigsaw, for the BJJ puzzle.

There have been many other innovators to leave there mark on BJJ. The five Machado Brothers are classic examples, as Carlos, Roger, Rigan, Jean Jacques, and John have all become high level black belts in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Over the years they have all contributed tremendously, and are responsible for helping Chuck Norris bring BJJ into the silver screens of America. The school they ran in America was funded by Chuck Norris, as he allowed the Machado brothers to forge a legacy that still stands today. The Machado brothers have contributed to the art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu through many of their school's and foundations they have created. There are many other remarkable athletes who have contributed to the innovation of BJJ over the course of its evolution.

Flavio Behring and his two sons Marcelo, and Sylvio went on to teach many world champions including Mario Reis, Anderson Silva, and Fabricio Werdum. The Ribeiro Brothers, Xande and Saulo are huge icons in the world of competitive grappling. The two famous brothers have contributed immensely, through their academies, and their published BJJ content. Saulo is a BJJ, and Judo black belt who has won five world titles, incredibly through five different weight categories, he also had two ADCC world title wins. Xande is also a five time world champion and a two time ADCC champion. Together the brothers hold fourteen world titles, and are two of the most popular, and recognised teachers of BJJ in the world.

The Vieira brothers are two well known pioneers of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Leo, Ricardo, and Leandro are the famous founders of the checkmat academy, where they have raised champions like Marcus Almeida, Lucas Leite, Michelle Nicolini, and Joao Assis. The brothers most famous claim to innovation is the work they are doing to change gang related lifestyles. The brothers have opened academies in Rio de Janeiro's favelas, and in Sao Paulo, as they look to help change the lives of many young Brazilian men and women. The Miyao brothers, Paulo and Joao are responsible for the innovation of the berimbolo attack. This technical movement has become one of the most popular forms of transition, which takes a practitioner from the guard position into a back take. The berimbolo has become synonymous with not only taking the back, but with setting up a variety of leg entanglement positions. The popularity of these high calibre manoeuvres have given the Miyao brothers an extreme amount of notoriety across the globe.

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SOME OF THE MOST ICONIC LEGENDS THE ART HAS EVER SEEN

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has become the most iconic combat sport in the world, outside of boxing. With the rise of Mixed Martial Arts, and the UFC, BJJ has become a formidable force in the world of Martial Arts. The influx of students heading towards Brazilian Jiu Jitsu academies is phenomenal, as the numbers of high level practitioners are also on the rise. There have been a large number of amazing practitioners that have starred on the international stage of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. The one that springs to mind first and is probably the most iconic name outside of Royce Gracie, is his older brother Rickson Gracie who has become a pioneer of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Rickson is fabled to have won over 400 fights with no losses. If students across the world are wondering what is a bjj tournament then look no further, as Rickson Gracie has been an advocate, especially in women's competition BJJ. Rickson Gracie was a champion in his own right, as he became the prominent force, and family champion during the feud between Gracie Jiu Jitsu, and Luta Livre. Rickson has been credited with defeating world class athletes like Rei Zulu, Hugo Duarte, and Yoji Anjo. 

One of the most iconic Brazilian Jiu Jitsu fighters who is the most successful competitor since the sport began, is Roger Gracie. Roger is considered the greatest competitor of all time, as he has won a stunning 14 world championship titles, including 12 as a black belt. Some people might be wondering how much do professional jiu jitsu fighters make and the answer is not much at all, as this is what drove Roger Gracie to become an MMA fighter. Roger Gracie has a MMA record of 8 and 2, including wins over Yuki Kondo, Kevin Randleman, Keith Jardine, and Anthony Smith. 

Marcelo Garcia is a world famous Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt who has contributed to the evolution of BJJ tremendously. Marcelo is famously known for his back takes, and his Marcelotine, which is his own style of guillotine choke. Marcelo is a five time IBJJF world champion, and a four time ADCC world champion. Marcelo Garcia is no doubt one of the most iconic BJJ black belts to ever step on the competition mats. Another Legend of the sport is Marcus buchecha Almeida who is the 6 ft 3 weapon built for mass destruction. Marcus has an annihilating record of 15 world championship titles, which is a combination of IBJJF, and ADCC world titles. His grappling record is phenomenal, as he has secured 128 wins with only 13 losses, including an incredible 67 submission victories. Among many of his accolades, he boasts a 4 and 0 Mixed Martial Arts record, which he has currently compiled on the One Championship organisation.

Ronaldo Jacare Souza is one of the most ferocious BJJ legends in the world. His credentials speak for themselves, as he is a three time IBJJF world champion, and a two time ADCC world champion. What makes Ronaldo one of the best in the world is he is one of the only competitors to ever defeat Roger Gracie in a world championship final. The formidable Brazilian refused to tap from an arm bar that Roger had secured, even after Roger broke his arm, Ronaldo continued the fight with one arm to secure the victory. Along with his reputation, he is also a current Mixed Martial Artist fighting for the UFC. Ronaldo has an impressive record of 26 wins with only 10 losses, including 14 submission victories.

Rubens Charles is another extremely savage Brazilian Jiu Jitsu fighter, who has starred on the world scene of BJJ. Rubens is known as Cobrinha, and has four IBJJF world titles, and two ADCC world titles. Rubens is considered the best featherweight BJJ black belt of all time, as the Brazilian master is also a master of capoeira, which is a Brazilian striking art. There are many other legends of the sport that deserve accolades for their part in the evolution of BJJ. Athletes like Leo Vieira, Xande Ribeiro, Romulo Barral, Bruno Malfacine, Rafael Mendes, and Saulo Ribeiro, have become iconic Legends of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu that all students look up to with nostalgia.

Arguably the greatest grappler in history, Gordon Ryan has joined forces with BJJFanatics.com to share his complete BJJ system.  Check it out here!

modern jiu jitsu legends

THE MODERN CHAMPIONS OF BJJ

There are many modern day champions that compete extensively in the IBJJF, and ADCC world championships. Nowadays the international stage of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is brimming with talented athletes, all set on making names for themself. Some of the most biggest names, and recent champions are Felipe Andrew, Leandro Silva, Pedro Marinho, Leandro Lo, Mical Galvao, Nicholas Meregali, Mikey Musumeci, Victor Hugo, Eric Munis, Renato Canuto, and Gordon Ryan. All of these champions have become world renowned grapplers, and won big on the world scene of BJJ. Gordon Ryan is probably one of the most world famous no gi grapplers on the planet, as he has been a formidable star on the ADCC world circuit. The former Danaher Death Squad member has won a multitude of world championship titles, and superfight matchups, including appearances on Who's Number One, Fight 2 Win, and subversiv bjj, making him the most sought after, and challenged champion in the world of no gi grappling.

Other stars like Nicholas Meregali, Felipe Andrew, Erich Munis, and Victor Hugo have all won recent IBJJF world championship titles. The professionalism and dedication that these athletes have showcased on the world stage, is remarkable, as many young and upcoming athletes are following in their footsteps. Athletes like Mikey Musumeci, and Mica Galvao have become extremely young superstar athletes to win world championship gold. The world class nature of many of these formidable athletes is paving the way for future generations to step up, and achieve their dreams of becoming world champions.

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