The Foundational Era of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu begins in 1904 with the Russo-Japanese War which triggered global interest in the Japanese fighting art of Jiu-Jitsu. The Era concludes with the death of the three most influential Japanese instructors to go to Brazil, Geo Omori (1938), Mitsuyo Maeda (1941) and Soshihiro Satake (1942).
1904 - 1905: The Japanese win the Russo-Japanese War and their victory over the Russians causes worldwide interest in Japanese fighting systems.
1904 - 1905: Irving Hancock and Katsukuma Higashi publish their books “Jiu-Jitsu Combat Tricks” (1904) and “The Complete Kano Jiu-Jitsu” (1905). The books are translated into multiple languages and are available in Portuguese in Brazilian bookstores.
1908 - 1909: The first Japanese Jiu-Jitsu instructor arrives in Brazil. Sada Miyako performed demonstrations, taught military and law enforcement personnel and fought challenge matches. He famously lost to Capoeira fighter, Cyriaco Francisco da Silva. A fight which set back the perception of Jiu-Jitsu amongst the Brazilian populace.
1911: George Gracie is born.
1913: Mario Aleixo, likely learning solely from Jiu-Jitsu books, opens the first Jiu-Jitsu academy in Brazil. It was located in Rio de Janeiro.
Oct 1913: Helio Gracie is born.
1914: Mitsuyo Maeda and Soshihiro Satake arrive in Brazil and begin touring, performing exhibitions and fighting challenge matches.
1915: Mitsuyo Maeda begins teaching adults and children Jiu-Jitsu at the Teatro Moderno in Belem, northern Brazil.
Early 1916: Soshihiro Satake opens the first Judo/Jiu-Jitsu school in Brazil run by a Japanese master. It is located in the Rio Negro Athletic club in Manaus and exists to this day.
Dec 1916: Gastão Gracie likely meets Mitsuyo Maeda. At the time, Gastão ran a local circus and managed the professional wrestler, Alfredo Leconte. Leconte defeated two of Maeda’s compatriots in Uenish Sadakazu and Shimizu Kusaku.
1917: Carlos Gracie is believed to have begun training at Maeda’s academy. Likely under the direction of Jacyntho Ferro.
1920: Mitsuyo Maeda promotes five of his students, including Jacyntho Ferro, to “first rank”. It is the only confirmed promotion of Brazilian students by Maeda.
1921: Donato Pires dos Reis and Carlos Gracie are confirmed as students of Jacyntho Ferro. Shortly after, Carlos and the other Gracies move from Belem to Rio de Janeiro.
1925: Geo Omori arrives in Brazil and begins traveling the country teaching and giving demonstrations.
1928: Geo Omori opens the first Jiu-Jitsu school in São Paulo.
1928: Donato Pires is awarded a two year contract to teach the Minas Gerais state police. By chance, he runs into Carlos Gracie in Rio de Janeiro and asks Carlos to join him as an assistant instructor.
Apr 1929: Geo Omori has his first “fight” with Carlos Gracie. It is likely just a demonstration of Jiu-Jitsu techniques. It is considered a draw.
1929: Jacyntho Ferro dies. Waldemar Santana is born.
Jan 1930: Geo Omori has his second “fight” with Carlos Gracie. It is also ruled a draw.
Sep 1930: Donato Pires dos Reis moves from Belem to Rio and opens a Jiu-Jitsu academy. While Mario Aleixo opened the first Jiu-Jitsu academy in Rio, Pires’ academy is the first one that is opened by a student under a legitimate Japanese master. Carlos and George Gracie are Pires’ assistant instructors at the academy.
Dec 1930: Donato Pires dos Reis leaves his academy and Carlos and George Gracie take over.
1931: Geo Omori opens another academy in São Paulo. Luiz Franca would end up being student there.
1931: Mario Aleixo loses a Vale Tudo fight George Gracie. It effectively ends Aleixo’s career and the era of the book taught instructor.
Aug 1932: The first of the next generation of Gracies is born. Eduardo, later re-named Carlson Gracie after his father Carlos became interested in Spiritism and the power of “C”, “R” and “K” letters, would go on to be one of the greatest champions and trainers in family history.
1932: Carlos and George Gracie rename their academy the Academia Gracie.
Apr 1933: Geo Omori has a Sport Jiu-Jitsu match with George Gracie. It is ruled a draw.
Dec 1933: Geo Omori fights with George Gracie again. This time it is a Vale Tudo fight. It is also ruled a draw.
1934: Takeo Yano and the Ono brothers (Yassuiti and Naoiti) arrive In Brazil.
Oct 1934: George Gracie has the first loss of his a career. Polish wrestler, Wladek Zybszko, finishes George with an armlock at the ten minute mark in their No Gi match. Zybszko weighed 233 pounds. George weighed 145.
Sep 1935: Takeo Yano has his first match against the Gracies; a sport Jiu-Jitsu match against George.
1937: George Gracie has many Sport Jiu-Jitsu matches with the Ono brothers (Yassuiti and Naoiti). George went 1-1 with Yassuiti and 2-0 with Naoiti.
1938: Geo Omori dies at 40 years old of food poisoning.
Nov 1938: Luiz Franca competes in a No-Gi Submission Grappling match against a grappler nicknamed “Gaucho”. Franca’s academy is listed as the Gracie Academy.
Feb 1939: George Gracie and Naoiti Ono have another Sport Jiu-Jitsu match. George is once again the winner, finishing Ono by choke at the 55 minute mark.
Oct 1939: George Gracie draws with Takeo Yano.
1939: Donato Pires opens an academy in São Paulo. George Gracie is his assistant instructor.
Dec 1939: Ivan Gomes is born in northeastern Brazil. He would go on to become one of the greatest Vale Tudo fighters of the Television Era.
1940: George Gracie and Takeo Yano have two additional matches with each other that end in draws.
May 1941: Euclides Pereira is born. He would retire from competition undefeated and be the only man to defeat Carlson Gracie.
Nov 1941: Mitsuyo Maeda dies of kidney disease.
1942: Soshihiro Satake dies (presumably).
Mitsuyo Maeda - Pioneer of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
1950: Television broadcasts begin in Brazil.
Sep 1950: The first television channel in South America begins broadcasting: TV-Tupi (Channel 6).
Mar 1951: Rolls Gracie is born. The son of Carlos, raised by Helio, would go on to be family champion after Carlson and be an innovator in both technique and training philosophy.
Oct 1951: Helio Gracie is defeated by Masahiko Kimura in a Sport Jiu-Jitsu match.
Jan 1952: Helio’s first child, Rorion, is born. He would eventually move to the US, craft the “Gracie Version” of BJJ history, produce the Gracies In Action video series and found the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).
Mar 1953: Relson Gracie is born. The second son of Helio would go on to be considered the number two fighter of his generation (after brother Rickson) and further develop the Gracie’s street Self-Defense curriculum.
1954: Ivan Gomes and his brothers, José and Jalido, begin training.
Jul 1955: TV-Rio (Channel 13) begins broadcasting.
May 1955: Helio Gracie is defeated by Waldemar Santana in a Vale Tudo match.
Oct 1955: First match between Carlson Gracie and Waldemar Santana. It is a Sport Jiu-Jitsu match and ruled a draw.
Jul 1956: Second match between Carlson Gracie and Waldemar Santana. It is a Vale Tudo match and Carlson wins by corner stoppage.
Nov 1956: An article is published that references a fight that Talvanes Falão was having. It noted that Falão was a student of Luiz França and that França had previously been a student of the Gracies.
Jul 1957: Third match between Carlson Gracie and Waldemar Santana. It was likely a Vale Tudo fight and Carlson is believed to have won by judges’ decision.
1958: After dozens of professional No-Gi Submission Grappling victories without a loss, Euclides Pereira begins his professional Vale Tudo career with wins over Aparecido Silva and Waldo Santana (Waldemar’s brother). Euclides would compete in Vale Tudo for 21 more years and retire undefeated.
Nov 1958: Rickson Gracie is born. The son of Helio, he would become family champion after the passing of Rolls in 1982.
Apr 1959: Fourth match between Carlson Gracie and Waldemar Santana. It is a Vale Tudo match and ruled a draw.
May 1959: Fifth match between Carlson Gracie and Waldemar Santana. It is a Vale Tudo match and ruled a draw.
Jun 1959: TV-Continental (Channel 9) begins broadcasting. The channel begins airing Heróis do Ringue, a popular Vale Tudo show supported by the Gracies.
Jul 1959: TV-Continental (Channel 9) broadcast Está Noite de Vitoria featuring Judo, Boxing and Luta Livre matches. Also, Masahiko Kimura has two matches versus Waldemar Santana. Kimura wins the Sport Jiu-Jitsu match via ude-garami armlock. The two fight to a draw in a Vale Tudo match.
Apr 1960: Channel 9’s influential and popular show, Heróis do Ringue ends after Gracie star student João Alberto Barreto breaks Soares Vinagre’s arm by Americana. The public is aghast at the violence witnessed and the show is cancelled.
1960: Ivan Gomes is promoted to Black Belt by Agatangelo Braga. Channel 2 begins broadcasting TV-Ring Torre, a weekly fight show that would air until 1966.
Apr 1961: Ivan Gomes has his first televised Vale Tudo fight.
1963: Euclides Pereira and Waldemar Santana have their first of several Vale Tudo fights. It ends in a draw.
Dec 1963: Ivan Gomes and Carlson Gracie have their one and only Vale Tudo fight. It is ruled a draw, but Ivan is considered the dominant fighter. Carlson would go on to call it the toughest fight of his life.
1964: Carlos and Helio Gracie enter into a non-compete agreement with Ivan Gomes. Ivan becomes a student of the Gracie Academy (at least in appearance) and opens an academy with Carlson Gracie. Gomes fights Euclides Pereira to draws twice.
1967: Euclides Pereira and Waldemar Santana would fight three times over the course of the year. Euclides would win all matches by decision. Euclides would also fight Ivan Gomes twice and draw both times.
Sep 1968: Euclides Pereira hands Carlson the sole loss of his career. After a 30 minute battle in Bahia, Euclides is declared the winner by judges’ decision over a bloodied Carlson. Even though Euclides offered Carlson a rematch, the two would never fight again.
1968: After his victory over Carlson Gracie, Waldemar Santana challenges Euclides Pereira to a rematch. Euclides defeats Waldemar when he flees the ring and refuses to return.
Dec 1970: Sixth and final match between Carlson Gracie and Waldemar Santana. It is a No Gi Submission Grappling match and ruled a draw.
1972: Ivan Gomes and Euclides Pereira have another draw.
1974: Waldemar Santana and Euclides Pereira have their final bout. Euclides wins by decision. Euclides and Ivan Gomes have their final match. It ends in draw.
Oct 1975: First closed circuit broadcast in Brazil: Ali versus Frazier from Manila.
Aug 1976: Ivan Gomes has his controversial match with Willem Ruska. The worked fight devolves into a shoot and Ivan is disqualified by the pro-wrestling promotion.
1977: Ivan Gomes returns from his stint in Japan and resettles in northeastern Brazil. The Brazilians begin calling him the Samurai, referring to his time spent teaching and performing in Japan.
1979: Euclides Pereira defeats Rei Zulu by guillotine choke. It is Zulu’s first loss and the final match of Euclides’ undefeated career.
Euclides Pereira versus Ivan Gomes in Vale Tudo. Two of the biggest names of the Television Era.
1. With the Television Era ending in 1979 and the Globalization Era beginning in 1972, there is some overlap of the timelines, but I felt it was appropriate to parse the two.
2. I have not included every Vale Tudo event, grappling competition and belt promotion to occur during the Globalization Era; just the ones most significant to the popularization and expansion of Jiu-Jitsu.
3. The Dirty Dozen has not yet to be added. As there are multiple contradictory reports of who the first twelve American Black Belts are and when they were promoted, I will take more time to flush this out.
4. This is a new section. I am continuing to add events.
1972: Carley Gracie, the eleventh child of Carlos Gracie, moves to the United States to teach Jiu-Jitsu. He becomes the first Gracie to establish roots and teach in the US.
1978: Rorion Gracie, the oldest son of Helio Gracie, arrives in the California to teach Jiu-Jitsu and become an actor. He would be one of the most impactful figures of the Globalization Era.
1979: Richard Bresler, Rorion’s first American student, begins training.
1981: Craig Kukuk, the first American to be promoted to Black Belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu begins his training under Rorion and his brothers.
1985: Relson Gracie, Helio’s second son, arrives in California to teach. He will ultimately settle in Hawaii.
1988: Rorion Gracie produces and releases the Gracies in Action VHS tape. The video, available via mail order, showed actual challenge match and Vale Tudo footage with narration from Rorion explaining his version of the history of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. It would do much to popularize the Gracies, Jiu-Jitsu and the Gracie Challenge.
1988: Relson relocates to Hawaii and establishes it as his base of operations.
1989: Rorion closes his Gracie Garage and opens the first, US-based Gracie Academy in Torrance, California.
Sep 1989: Playboy magazine publishes an article, “BAD: Rorion Gracie is willing to fight to the death to prove he is the baddest man alive”. It helps popularize the Gracie version of BJJ history and promotes the $100,000 Gracie Challenge.
1990: Steve Maxwell, as a Blue Belt under the Gracies, and with their permission, opens the first academy in the northeastern/mid-Atlantic United States. Located in Philadelphia, it would become the blueprint for the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Training Association.
1991: Rorion releases the five VHS tape series, Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Basics. It would be the first instructional video series on Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Early 1992: Craig Kukuk is promoted to Black Belt in Gracie Jiu-Jitsu by Rorion Gracie. Craig was the first American and possibly first non-Brazilian to be promoted to Black Belt in BJJ.
1992: The Gracie Ohio academy is founded in Columbus, Ohio. It would become the first Jiu-Jitsu academy in the Midwest.
Nov 1993: Rorion Gracie, along with Art Davie, produces the first US-based Mixed Martial Arts Pay Per View event, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). Royce Gracie would go on to win the inaugural tournament and the demand in learning Jiu-Jitsu would skyrocket globally.
1994: Carlos Gracie Junior creates the Confederação Brasileira de Jiu-Jitsu to govern the art. While it is not the first nor last federation to spring up, it has a major impact on the competition scene. The CBJJ will hold the first ever Brasileiro (Brazilian National Championship) in 1994 and later create the Pan and World Championships and morph into the IBJJF (International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation).
Mar 1994: UFC 2 is held. Royce Gracie wins four fights in one night to become the tournament champion for the second time.
Jul 1994: Japan Open Vale Tudo 1994 premiers. It is the first major Vale Tudo show in Japan during the Globalization Era. The tournament features Rickson Gracie and his dominance performance at the event catapults him to superstar status within Japan.
Sep 1994: UFC 3 is held. Royce Gracie defeats Kimo Leopoldo via armlock, but then withdraws from the event due to fatigue. Steve Jennum is crowned the tournament champion.
Dec 1994: UFC 4 occurs. Royce Gracie returns and defeats three men in one night to claim the championship again (his third).
1995: Jay Penn (known as Baby Jay or BJ Penn) begins training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in Hawaii under Tom Callos (the stepfather of Keenan Cornelius).
Apr 1995: Japan Open Vale Tudo 1995 is produced. Once again Rickson Gracie dominates the tournament and solidifies his megastar status in Japan.
Apr 1995: UFC 5 is held. It is the first time there is a scheduled Superfight at a UFC. Royce Gracie and Ken Shamrock battle to a 36 minute draw. It would be Royce’s last fight in the Ultimate Fighting Championship until UFC 60.
Jun 1995: The CBJJ holds the first ever Pan Jiu-Jitsu championships in Irivne, California. It is an effort to grow the popularity of the art outside of Brazil. The event would come to be own informally as the “Pan Ams” and be the largest BJJ tournament in the world each year in terms of participants.
Sep 1995: Josh Simon begins training in Jiu-Jitsu at Maxercise in Philadelphia.
Oct 1995: The World Combat Championship premiers as a competitor to the UFC. In its inaugural tournament, Renzo Gracie, son of Robson and grandson of Carlos, reigns supreme. It exposes the American audience to Gracies from the Carlos side of the family and makes Renzo a star. There would never be another WCC event.
Nov 1995: Battlecade Extreme Fighting Championship premiers. This competitor to the UFC is funded by Bob Guccione, the founder of Penthouse magazine. It would popularize other Gracie fighters such as Ralph and Carlson Jr. and be the first US show to highlight Gracie trained, but non-Gracie fighters such as Marcus “Conan” Silveira and Mario Sperry. The EFC would be unusual amongst US events that would seek to compete against the UFC. It actually had more than one show. Four in fact.
Feb 1996: The CBJJ organizes the first Mundial (World Championship of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu) in Rio. The event would be the launching pad for many superstars and do much to formalize the sport and establish the annual “Top Dog” in the form the Black Belt Absolute Champion (Amaury Bitetti in its first year).
Mar 1996: The first every Gracie Jiu-Jitsu cruise event is held. The Carnival Cruise ship traveled from Los Angeles to Ensenada, Mexico and back. Training was led by Rorion and Royce on the nude sunbathing deck. A White Belt Josh Simon was in attendance.
Apr 1996: Extreme Fighting Championship 2 is held. Ralph Gracie would continue his ways.
Oct 1996: Extreme Fighting Champions 3 occurs. Ralph continues to win and other BJJ fighters appear: Marcus “Conan” Silveira, Allan Goes and João Roque.
Nov 1996: Martial Arts Reality Superfighting (MARS) would premier as yet another competitor to the UFC. It would only last one event, but would feature of Superfight of two prominent fighters, Renzo Gracie and Oleg Taktarov (Renzo would win by upkick). The event would further popularize Carlson Gracie team fighters: Carlos Barreto, Murilo Bustamante and Mario Sperry.
1997: BJ Penn moves from Hawaii to California to begin his training under Ralph Gracie.
Mar 1997: The final EFC event is held: Extreme Fighting Championship 4. Several big names were absent from this event, but it did feature Carlson Gracie fighter, Allan Goes.
Sep 1997: Brazil removes governmental prohibitions on MMA, immediately regrets it and re-bans competitions for another ten years. Pentagon Combat is held with a main event featuring Renzo Gracie and Eugenio Tadeu. During the course of the fight, a full scale riot breaks out, gunshots are heard and Renzo gets stabbed.
Oct 1997: The Pride Fighting Championship launches. It becomes a major competitor to the UFC. With massive governmental, corporate and popular support, it is able to attract the best talent in the world. The first event, main card features major names, such as: Dan Severn, Gary Goodridge, Kimo Leopoldo, Renzo Gracie and Oleg Taktarov. The superfight is the first matchup of Rickson Gracie vs Nobuhiko Takada (Rickson wins via armbar).
1998: The first Abu Dhabi Combat Club World Submission Wrestling Championship is held. It was a mixed styles tournament format to determine who was the best grappler. Significant money was awarded to winners and the ADCC became one of the most prestigious championships a submission grappler could win. The event was dominated by BJJ practitioners, such as Renzo, Alexandre “Soca” Freitas and Mario Sperry.
1998: Yuki Nakai, veteran of Japan Open Vale Tudo, becomes the first Japanese person to be awarded a Black Belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He is awarded the belt by the CBJJ after strong performances in at the Pans in 1997 (Purple Belt) and 1998 (Brown Belt) despite not having regular access to BJJ instructors.
1998: BJ Penn places second in his weight class in the Blue Belt division at the World Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Championships.
1999: The second ADCC as held. It would be an annual event held in UAE until the events of Sep 11. Royler, Jean Jacques Machado and Roberto Traven continue the winning ways for BJJ. The first Superfight is held with Mario Sperry defeating Enson Inoue.
1999: BJ Penn places third in his weight class in the Brown Belt division at the World Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Championships.
2000: BJ Penn becomes the first American and non-Brazilian to win a weight class in the Black Belt division at the World Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Championships.
2000: The third ADCC is held and once again BJJ dominates. Royler, Renzo, Saulo Ribeiro and Ricardo Arona dominate. However, we see the emergence of American wrestler, Mark Kerr.
2001: The fourth ADCC concludes. The tournament would go on hiatus after the events of Sep 11. Royler, Marcio Feitosa and Ricardo Arona win their divisions.
2002: To focus on promoting the art and tournaments in countries outside of Brazil, the CBJJ creates a new umbrella organization, the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation (IBJJF). The CBJJ would continue to govern Brazilian events and other national entities were created (such as the USBJJF) to be subordinate to the global entity, IBJJF.
Jun 2002: The UFC as part of co-promotion with the Fox Sports television network airs a special event, UFC 37.5. It becomes the first time that MMA is aired on basic cable television in the United States.
Jan 2005: The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) reality TV series premiers on Spike TV. It offers Americans a glimpse into the world of MMA training, competition and the UFC.
Apr 2005: The TUF live finale airs on Spike TV. The TV season and the resulting fight card finale proved incredibly popular, especially the Light Heavyweight Final between Forest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar. The match, often referred to simply as “The Fight” would generate tremendous interest and viewership in the UFC.
2007: The IBJJF moves the World Jiu-Jitsu Championship from Brazil to the US. It is the first time the world championships of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu are held outside of Brazil and symbolizes the strength and popularity of BJJ internationally. It is the culminating event of the Globalization Era.
Royce Gracie and Ken Shamrock battle to a 36 min draw at UFC 5 on Apr 7, 1995.
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