Updated: Dec 19, 2021
The Birth of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
IN THE BEGINNING, THERE WERE two avenues open for resolving differences among apes. There was no-rules fighting, which consisted of scratching, grappling, gouging, kicking and biting.
And there was politics, which consisted of posturing, smiling, mutual grooming and lying. When these things failed, which was often, there was running, jumping, climbing and hiding to bridge the gap.
Thus, martial sports were invented among us even before Lucy’s day—about 20 million years ago, give or take a digit or two.
The next major advance in contact sport was throwing and dodging. This came some five million years later. Catching and throwing back were next on evolution’s agenda. In a natural progression of things, spears, slings, bows and arrows came on the scene. When these were pretty well mastered there was a chronic cave shortage in Kanapoi County and the apes (hominids by now) began to migrate north. They wandered here and there until a bunch of them got to Greece. Out of pure conceit, these vagrants decided to declare themselves humans to distance themselves from their low-life relatives. …
We fast forward now to about three thousand years ago when some clever minds devised ways to measure weight, time and distance. Coaches, referees, rules, disqualifications and fines soon followed. The world of sports was never the same again. Smiling, lying and bug plucking were still state-of-the-art politics, but free-fighting was soon handicapped by headgear, padded gloves, armor-plate, padded jockstraps and a long list of other objectionable devices.
This went on pretty much the same until about a hundred years ago when some reactionary people in South America said, “There are too many rules! Let’s get back to basics.” These reactionary folks were Brazilians and they said all this in Portuguese. Politics still hadn’t changed but fighting in Brazil reverted mostly to the original “no-rules” rules. Many fainthearted Utopian socialists thought this uncivilized and had it banned wherever they had influence. Others called it progressive and agreed to a minimum of safety measures—enough, they hoped, to prevent death and dismemberment in the arena.
People came to these contests and they happily declared, “Hey, this is real!” That’s when a few of the participants decided to name the ancient no-rules style of fighting Gracie Brazilian Jiujitsu
Gracie Brazilian Jiujitsu
Who are the champions of this new/old sport and what makes them so notorious? Well, the very best of them have some common traits: they’re natural, all-around athletes; they have quick-witted analytical skills; a strong work ethic; an unassailable ego; a mean-spirited aggressiveness; a resistance to pain; ultra-fast reflexes; a stubborn, almost suicidal courage; a coil-spring muscularity; a contortionist’s flexibility, and lastly—and perhaps most importantly, a consuming thirst for competition.
Of the characteristics listed here, Mitsuyo Maeda had all but one: he lacked a mean-spirit gene. In fact, he was routinely good natured. One characteristic of his so far unmentioned is something rarely found in an athlete. Maeda had an unwavering, almost sophomoric loyalty to an ideal. And that stayed with him throughout his career. It gave him strength when he needed it to overcome an almost certain loss, much like Rocky Marciano’s Round 13 knockout of Joe Walcott after Marciano had become hopelessly behind on points.
But the name popularly associated today with Brazilian Jiujitsu is not Maeda but Gracie. The prolific Gracie family of Brazil are the Flying Wallendas of the free-fighting world, an almost unstoppable force the details of which is covered in its proper place in this book.
And who taught the Gracies the secrets of the Judo/Jujitsu style free-fighting developed by Maeda. Why, it was Mitsuyo Maeda, aka Conde Koma, himself....
Read more about the fascinating history of Mitsuyo Maeda, aka: Conde Koma and his journey as he fights his way across the globe in no holds barred underground competitions to become one of the most legendary undefeated MMA fighters in history.
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