Grappling as a sport and method of defense can trace its roots as far back as 3400 BC with the Egyptians. Recorded images of ancient grappling can be found on the tombs of Beni-Hasan and Vizier Ptahhotpe. Eventually different forms and styles of grappling started emerging all over the world. The ancient Greek Olympic Games featured matches with Greco-Roman wrestling and the Indians developed their own form of grappling called Pahalwani around 11 AD. Grappling began as a self-defense art, evolved into battlefield art, and finally into sport. Many different types of grappling grew independently throughout the world and with time these different arts came in contact and mixed. There is only a finite amount of ways to manipulate the human body meaning at some point, all styles of grappling are related to each other. Judo, Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, and Japanese Ju-Jitsu are some of the most popular styles today and each style has its own advantages and disadvantages.
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The fundamentals of Japanese Ju-Jitsu can be seen greatly in both of the other styles.
In 1892 Kano Jigoro founded Judo. Kano himself was a ju-jitsu master who absorbed different styles of the art and took many of the “less deadly” forms of ju-jitsu techniques, changed the view on training, and changed the entire philosophy surrounding judo. It is mainly known for its competitive element, where the goal is to either throw or takedown an opponent to the ground, immobilize with a pin, or force a submission with a joint lack or choke. Striking is also not allowed in the sport version of the art. The huge spread of judo has also led to the development of many offshoots such as the Russian system of Sambo and Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Today Judo is practiced all over the world and is even a sport in the Olympics.
In Brazil, Helio Gracie founded Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. His brother, Carlos Gracie, had met the leader of a Japanese resettlement colony named Maeda Esai. From him Maeda taught Helio traditional Ju-jitsu and eventually the Gracie brothers opened the first ju-jitsu dojo in Brazil. The brothers began to change the art and added their own twist to it. Helio found new techniques that required less strength than the Japanese style. Breaking away from tradition the brothers experimented perfecting simple techniques that would be effective regardless of stature. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu differs in that it a mostly about ground fighting and positioning. Most schools require that each student learn some basic defensive maneuvers, but their level of self-defense fore rear attacks, weapon attacks, and multiple attackers is much less emphasized than in Japanese Ju-Jitsu. Chokes, arm locks, ankle locks, and leg locks are all taught for self-defense.
Each culture in the world has its own martial arts. Most of which were designed for use on the battlefield and in close combat. Possessing the knowledge of grappling is essential due to the fact that most hand-to-hand fights always go to the ground. In this domain, arts such as wrestling, judo, and Brazilian jiu-jitsu flourish. Anyone can throw a punch when standing up but on the ground a person with no grappling experience is helpless. As famously put by world-class jiu-jitsu practitioner Carlos Machado, “The ground is my ocean, I’m the shark, and most people don’t even know how to swim.”