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History of BJJ

BJJ owes its inception to Carlos Gracie, the grandson of a Scottish migrant who was born in Brazil in 1901. As a young man Carlos developed a keen interest in Boxing and professional fighting. To further enhance his prowess he began his study of Japanese Jiu Jitsu under champion Mitsuyo Maeda, known in Brazil as Conde Koma. He was quick to modify the techniques he learned under Maeda to better suit the demands of the no-rules fight game, known in Brazil as Vale Tudo, Portuguese for ‘anything goes’. He refined and further developed his approach through constant challenge matches, open to all-comers, regardless of weight, size or style preference, thereby planting the seed of BJJ in the fertile environment of Rio de Janeiro.
During the decades that followed, Carlos’s brothers, sons, grandsons and cousins became the driving force that further developed and refined the art into the form we see today. Rio de Janeiro, with its penchant for reality based combative sport, became a proving-ground for no rules fighting strategy and technique. BJJ schools blossomed everywhere, a sporting aspect was developed and the art grew tremendously in popularity. Its effectiveness was never in question, as the population had become educated as to the difference between reality and fantasy when it came down to fighting for real. It became obvious that almost all fights, when there were limited or no rules, ended up being contested on the ground. In Rio de Janeiro, real fighting meant going to ground, and the BJJ stylists were the undisputed champions of that particular arena in a relatively safe form competition. This in turn, forced the art to further evolve, and during the last thirty years of the 20th century, undergo a phase of technical development that has thrust it to the forefront of the ground-based fight arena.
All of this was taking place away from eyes of the world; until when in the 80’s, some of Brazil’s top BJJ instructors made their way to the United States. For a decade following the arrival of several top BJJ coaches in Los Angeles, the scene in Brazil continued to thrive but the rest of the world, to a large degree, remained ignorant of the style and were unprepared for what was to come.
Gradually, the grass-roots martial arts community began to hear more and more about the reality based style, with several well renowned and respected martial artists even taking up the art themselves. As word spread about the Brazilian style, the inevitable occurred and mixed-style match-ups paved the way for the beginning of a frenzy of interest in submission grappling. By the middle of the 90’s, televised inter style limited rules fights were being watched by the fight loving public and the world wide martial arts community. And within a very short time, it became obvious to even the uninitiated, that ground fighting was the heart and soul of no rules combat.


History of BJJ in Australia

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu arrived on the Australian martial arts scene in early 1989. It was introduced here by John Will upon his return from a training trip to Brazil in the company of Rigan Machado. John is Australia’s highest ranked BJJ practioner & highly regarded worldwide. 
There are really only four main levels within the BJJ system; blue belt, purple belt, brown belt and finally black belt. Sometimes years are spent on each belt; so even within the system itself, things progress slowly but surely. Many schools outside of Brazil are run by blue and purple belts; and fewer again by the browns and blacks, ‘quality’ being the traditional hallmark of the BJJ school.
Now, though, through media exposure and the popularity of the UFC and other no-rules type events, BJJ has entered the public domain. As a consequence of this, we sadly see BJJ schools popping up everywhere, particularly in the USA, run by people who have little or no understanding of BJJ. Even here in Australia, there are people wearing black belts telling their unsuspecting students that they are BJJ instructors. It is sad that such is the case; but it should come as no big surprise; we’ve seen this happen with Karate, Taekwondo, Kung Fu, Kickboxing and a dozen other martial systems. The message to all is really a simple one; and that is: buyer beware!
Here in Australia, BJJ is still in its relatively early stages. Only a handful of people in the country have real BJJ experience under their belts. Australia’s first BJJ instructor, John Will, having begun his training under Champion Rigan Machado in 1988, has since produced a significant number of highly ranked students of his own; many of whom are instructing throughout Australia. Richard Norton, another well known home-grown martial artist is also a product of the Machado mat based in Los Angeles. Through their combined efforts, BJJ has become a part of the martial arts culture here on our own shores.
BJJ Australia, the original Brazilian Jiu Jitsu network here in Australia, was founded by John Will and is the official arm of Machado Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in Australasia. BJJ Australia is a non-political forum in which Machado Jiu Jitsu stylists can come together for competition, seminars and socialization. As ‘quality control’ has always been a Machado trademark, new members are admitted only after having sufficiently demonstrated a commitment to training. A strong work ethic, regular practice and a willingness to network with others and uphold standards are all pre-requisites for admission. This is not an organization where a membership fee alone will guarantee entry and privileges. Feel free to contact us if you are interested in more information on Machado Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in the Australasian region.

Useful Links

Will Machado website:

Jean Jacques Machado website:

Last Updated on Sunday, 31 July 2011 22:21

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