Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ/Gracie Jiu-Jitsu) is a martial art and combat sport that focuses on grappling and especially ground fighting. It is a derivative of early 20th century Kodokan Judo which was itself then a recently-developed system (founded in 1882), based on multiple schools of Japanese jujutsu.
Like judo, it promotes the principle that smaller, weaker person can successfully defend themselves against a bigger, stronger assailant using leverage and proper technique; applying joint-locks and chokeholds to defeat them. BJJ can be trained for self defense, sport grappling tournaments (gi and no-gi) and Mixed Martial Art (MMA) competition. Sparring (commonly referred to as 'rolling') and live drilling play a major role in training, and a premium is placed on performance, especially in competition.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu came to international prominence in the martial arts community in the 1990s, when Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu expert Royce Gracie won the first, second and fourth Ultimate Fighting Championships, which at the time were single elimination martial arts tournaments. Royce fought against often much-larger opponents who were practicing other styles, including boxing, shoot-fighting, karate, judo, tae kwon do and wrestling. It has since become a staple art for many MMA fighters and is largely credited for bringing widespread attention to the importance of ground fighting. Sport BJJ tournaments continue to grow in popularity worldwide and have given rise to no-gi submission grappling tournaments, such as the ADCC Submission Wrestling World Championship.
Style of fighting
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu emphasizes ground fighting techniques and submission holds involving joint-locks and chokeholds also found in numerous other arts with or without ground fighting emphasis. The premise is that most of the advantage of a larger, stronger opponent comes from superior reach and more powerful strikes, both of which are somewhat negated when grappling on the ground.
BJJ permits a wide variety of techniques to take the fight to the ground after taking a grip. Once the opponent is on the ground, a number of maneuvers (and counter-maneuvers) are available to manipulate the opponent into a suitable position for the application of a submission technique. Achieving a dominant position on the ground is one of the hallmarks of the BJJ style, and includes effective use of the guard position to defend oneself from bottom, and passing the guard to dominate from top position with side control, mount, and back mount positions. This system of maneuvering and manipulation can be likened to a form of kinetic chess when utilized by two experienced practitioners. A submission hold is the equivalent of checkmate in the sport. However, it is possible for a combat situation to continue even after a proper submission is performed.
There are minimum age requirements for belt promotions. Blue belts are never awarded to anyone under the age of 16. For promotion to black belt the minimum age is 19 years old according to the main regulating body of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation.
Stripes may be awarded to any rank below black belt, but like the belts themselves, they tend to be given at the instructor's discretion, and may be in recognition of accomplishments like noticeable improvement or tournament victories. However, not all schools award stripes, or award them consistently, so the number of stripes a person has is not necessarily a good measure of their accomplishments or time in training. When they are used, it is standard for a student to receive four stripes before being promoted to the next rank.
Black belts can receive degrees, up to 9th degree, for as long as they train or teach the art. At 7th degree, the black belt is replaced by an alternately red and black belt. At 9th and 10th degree, the belt becomes solid red. Only the founding Gracie Brothers Helio, Carlos, and their brothers will ever have the 10th degree red belt. The Gracie family members who are 9th degrees belt holders are Carlson Gracie, Reylson Gracie, Relson Gracie, Reyson Gracie, and Rorion Gracie.
The grading system goes like this:
Junior belt colours (15 and under) : White-> Yellow-> Orange-> Green
Adult belt colours ( 16 and above) : White-> Blue-> Purple-> Brown-> Black-> Red
Video showing the "flexibility" of BJJ techniques : Triangle choke from Armbar