Gracie Jiu-Jitsu has turned the martial arts world upside down by emphasizing real-life situations and results over the dramatic kicks and throws of formal competition, making it also one of the most effective self-defense techniques for non-athletes. This guide to the self-defense techniques taught in the classes of Royce Gracie, one of the biggest figures in the world of jiu-jitsu, provides lessons that anyone—regardless of strength or size—can learn to neutralize an attacker in seconds. It offers a variety of defenses to use against knife and gun attacks, as well as escapes from headlocks, choke holds, and other situations that attackers use on the street. This has made Jiu-Jitsu one of the most popular martial arts with the United States military, police academies, and women's self-defense schools.
Gracie Jiu-Jitsu is a system of one-on-one ground fighting, where the objective is to achieve a superior position for joint locks, chokes and strikes. Some Historians say that Jiu-Jitsu is the oldest form of martial art having originated in India more than 2,000 years before Christ. It was originally thought to have been developed by Buddhist Monks. Concerned with self-defense, these monks created techniques based upon principles of balance and leverage, and a system of manipulating the body in a manner where one could avoid relying upon strength or weapons.
With the expansion of Buddhism, Jiu-Jitsu spread from Southeast Asia to China, finally arriving in Japan where it developed and gained further popularity. However, with the passing of the Tokugawa era (ca. 1800), Japan became somewhat united and there were many changes in Japanese society. One of the results of these changes was the reduction of the Samurai warrior to the status of the common citizen. In his new position, the Samurai could no longer carry a sword. He was forced to rely solely on empty-handed techniques as a means of defending himself. Over the years, since the reforms imposed by the Meiji restoration in Japan in the 1900s, Jiu-Jitsu became practically extinct in that country surviving only as a very restricted sportive form of Judo.
Evidence also shows us that Jiu-Jitsu techniques, although not necessarily under that name at the time, were included with warrior training in several countries circa 1100AD. In the last days of 19th century, some Jiu-Jitsu masters emigrated from Japan to other continents, teaching the martial arts, as well as competing in fights and competitions.
Esai Maeda Koma, also known as "Conde Koma," was one such master. After traveling with a troupe who fought in various countries in Europe and the Americas, Koma arrived in Brazil in 1914 to help establish a Japanese immigration colony in that developing country, where he met a man named Gastao Gracie, a Brazilian scholar and politician of Scottish decent. Esai Maeda was aided in that endeavor by Gastao Gracie. The father of eight children, among then five boys and three girls, Gastao became a Jiu-Jitsu enthusiast and to show his gratitude to Gastao, the Japanese Jiu-Jitsu Master Esai Koma taught the basic secrets of that ancient fighting style to Gastao's oldest son, Carlos Gracie.