Brazilian jiu-jitsu has an unusual history for a martial art.
When Americans first came to learn of Asian (especially Japanese) martial arts following World War II, the emphasis at first was on judo. A great deal was made of how small people could defend themselves against larger opponents by using the attacker’s force and momentum against them. A little later, demonstrations of karate students chopping boards and bricks in half caught people’s attention. Thanks to Bruce Lee and the TV show Kung-Fu, people then thought the martial arts consists of straight-on punching and whirling kicks.
What only few knew at the time was that Japanese judo had already gone to Brazil, and been taught to the Gracie family, who have firmly established their fighting techniques as Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
In Brazilian jiu-jitsu, the main idea is to neutralize all advantage the opponent may have while both fighters are remain the standing position. Larger and stronger fighters have strength and reach advantages. Boxers, kung-fu and karate fighters are better punchers.
But the Brazilian jiu-jitsu martial artist knows how to gain and keep control on the ground, even against larger and stronger fighters. On the ground, karate and kung-fu fighters cannot kick. Boxers can punch, but not with the full control and leverage they need to land effective blows.
In the early 1990s, Royce Gracie won the first, second and fourth UFC contests. The latest Brazilian jiu-jitsu expert in his family, many of his opponents were larger. They had boxing, karate, muay thai, tae kwon do and other better known martial arts, but he got them to the ground and defeated them. That alerted the world to the importance of Academy Brazilian jiu-jitsu.