Jiu-Jitsu History

Jiu-Jitsu History

While it’s called Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, did you know it originally originated in Japan? Today, it’s a mixed martial art and world-class sport! But how did it get there? We’ll tell you!

A History of Jiu-Jitsu

Jiu-Jitsu first started in Japan because it was how the Samurais fought on the battlefield. Typically the Samurais were on horseback. But in the event they found themselves on foot, they were trained in Jiu-Jitsu so they could defend themselves.  

Then it migrated to South America when Mitsyuo Maeda, a Japanese diplomat, moved to Brazil in 1914. In the early 1900s, it became known as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu as Maeda helped to make it what it is today. He taught Jiu-Jitsu to a local politician's son, Carlos Gracie. Gracie shared what he learned with his brothers, and opened Brazil's first Jiu-Jitsu academy in 1925. 

This martial art is a mix of Maeda’s Jiu-Jitsu, which combines Japanese jiu-jitsu, Kodokan Judo, and some of his own techniques. It has gained popularity in the past 100 years. It grew in popularity from the 1920s to the 1940s. And until the 1990s, Jiu-Jitsu wasn’t known outside of Brazil. 

In the early 1990s, Gracie moved from Brazil to Los Angeles, where it was first introduced to the United States. His brother, Rorian Gracie, also moved with him. Rorian and Art Davies came together to create The Ultimate Fighting Championship, or the UFC as we know it today. Then and now, various martial art styles would compete against one another. This was the first time various martial art styles were used in competition to prove their sport was the best. 

In 1993, the first UFC took place. Rorian’s younger brother, Royce, was the winner and made a lasting impression. Royce was not a big competitor and was outweighed by the competition. But with his Jiu-Jitsu skills, he took down larger opponents using his ground fighting knowledge. He became famous as he took down four opponents in a single night. At the end of the UFC, he won almost a dozen matches and multiple championships. After that, Jiu-Jitsu piqued everyone’s interest.  

Jiu-Jitsu Today


Today, it’s considered a form of exercise and also self-defense. Men, women, and children can learn Jiu-Jitsu. The aim of Jiu-Jitsu isn’t to fight, but it’s to use strategies to force the other opponent into submission. It has become an integral part of martial arts training and a world-class sport. 

It’s different from boxing and taekwondo since they mainly use punches and upper body moves. Meanwhile, Jiu-Jitsu will have more ground fighting and submission holds, like joint locks or chokeholds, to force an opponent into submission.

Jiu Jitsu strongly believes a smaller opponent can successfully defend themselves against a bigger and stronger opponent due to the skills learned in this martial art. As a Jiu-Jitsu practitioner, you learn how to use leverage and weight distribution in your favor, bringing the fight to the ground, and using a number of holds and submissions to defeat your partner. 

Besides being a form of self-defense and exercise, it has become a way of life for many. Top Mount Apparel believes it which is why we started our podcast, To The Top. We’re not near the top, but we share our ups and downs as we work our way to the top in our Jiu-Jitsu Journey. 

Besides our podcast, we support another, Grappling Dads. This fatherhood-focused podcast discusses how Jiu-Jitsu impacts friends and family relationships, and our personal and professional lives. We’re happy to partner, sponsor, and carry Grappling Dads' merch to support our Jiu-Jitsu-loving community! 


We created Top Mount Apparel with the Jiu-Jitsu practitioner in mind. Our designs are meant to reflect your Jiu-Jitsu Journey. Buy your Jiu-Jitsu designs today! From tees to hats to winter gear, we have it all.