Do all schools of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) come from the same original source? Or did some come down different path ways and hop on to the BJJ marketing wagon?
Genuine Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu all stems from one man: Mitsuyo Maeda of Kodokan Judo. Maeda had numerous students the world over, and upon settling in Brazil, was featured in a circus there, where he was seen by Carlos Gracie, the eldest son of Gastao Gracie, a business partner of the circus there. Carlos was accepted as a student, passed on his training to his brothers, and Gracie Jiu-jitsu was born out of that training, adapted by the more naturally frail Helio Gracie... This is the best known form...
The other significant form is that of Luis França, who was also a student of Maeda's... Personally, I would not recognize the difference, but know the latter is recognizable by its unique forms of foot locks.
Roberto Pedreira's Choque: The Untold Story of Jiu-Jitsu in Brazil 1856-1949: Volume 1 in one of its appendices contains a reconstructed hypothetical tree of the distinct lineages of judo/jiu-jitsu instructors in Brazil in the early 20th century, with a few caveats on reliability of information:
The evidence for a lineage varied from reliable to questionable. Reliable evidence would be (authenticated) diplomas, photographs, and the like, and testimony from the teacher himself or his students based on their own first-hand experience. Questionable evidence would be self-promoting and uncorroborated or contested claims made many years after the alleged relationship, particularly when the individual had a documented history of lying. In short, the quality of evidence varied and in most cases lineages should be considered possible rather than certain.
Kodokan Graduates in Brazil
Conde Koma 前田光世 (1878-1941). Conde Koma’s main teacher was Sakujiro Yokoyama (who also taught Ito, Ono, and Satake). According to myth, Conde Koma’s style of fighting was aggressive. He would use kicks and punches to bring the opponent to the ground and then quickly finish with a “lock” or choke.1 However, all of the available evidence clearly indicates that Conde Koma’s fights in Brazil were conducted strictly according to conventional jiu-jitsu rules. Kimonos were always worn and striking was never permitted (see main text for details). Conde Koma declined to fight capoeiras, whose game was striking.
Geo Omori 大森瀼冶 (1892-1938). Earned his black belt [faixa negra] in 1909, when he was 17 from Kodokan, which he entered when he was 13, (1905). Omori’s main teacher was Conde Koma’s classmate Tokugoro Ito (whose teacher was also Conde Koma’s teacher, Sakujiro Yokoyama). Unlike Conde Koma, Geo Omori fought capoeiras and engaged in vale tudo fights. He also fought without kimono. However, he avoided boxers.
Yassuiti Ono 小野安一 (1910-?). Ono’s main teacher was Kanemitsu Yaichibei ( 金光弥一市兵 衛 ) in 1922. Ono immigrated to Brazil in 1929, when he was 19. Originally from Kumamoto, Japan. Ono fought with and without kimono. He did not fight strikers.
Takeo Yano 矢野武雄 (1909-?).2 Like Yassuiti Ono and Masahiko Kimura, Yano was originally from Kumamoto, Japan (in fact, he attended the same middle school as Kimura). Yano fought with and without kimono. He did not fight strikers, although he challenged at least one boxer, and he fought numerous fake vale tudo “catch” fights.
Bianor de Oliveira (Recife)
Donato Pires dos Reis (Belém)
Jacyntho Ferro (Belém)
Takeo Yano (Belém)4
Donato Pires dos Reis
Albino da Costa
Vincente Martins (student of Riquetto)
Alberto Torre La Faria (Al Faria)
Benedicto Peres Campos
Arthur Miele (student of Peres)
Manoel Azevedo Maia
Herminio de Oliveira
Gastão Gracie Filho
Dr. Adhemar Barbosa
Oninho (Naoiti Ono)
Braz Gomes I
Jose Roberto Macedo Soares
It is likely that all of the fighters who participated in preliminaries to Ono’s fights were his own students (refer to appendix 2).
Antonio Alfonso Alves
Luiz Alberto Moreira
Appendix 3 Notes
- [“Seu estilo ao lutar era agressivo―usava chutes e soccos para lever o adversario ao solo, onde rapidamente o finalizava com uma chave ou um estrangulamento”] (Gracie 2008, p. 37).
- According to Nunes (2011, p. 62) Yano died in Belo Horizonte sometime in the 1980’s. Regrettably the sources Nunes cites do not seem to provide the relevant information about Yano.
- In addition to the above, Carlos Gracie claimed to have learned from Conde Koma. H[is] claim was doubted by journalists who cared enough to have an opinion, and was denied by Koma’s student Donato Pires dos Reis. Oswaldo Gracie also claimed, although not often, to have learned directly from Conde Koma. Koma taught for many years in Belém. There is at least one photograph of him with seven students wearing modern judo gis. A fact easily forgotten is that a Conde Koma lineage was not of any particular value until Rorion Gracie made it the starting point of his story in 1988. Before that, it is likely that anyone descending from Conde Koma would have sought affiliation within the judo community.
- Takeo Yano spent some time with Conde Koma in Belém and was described as a “discipulo” implying that he was student of sorts. Yano had already graduated at the 3-dan level (after only one year) from the Kodokan before coming to Brazil [“gradou-se, em doze mezes, com a titulo de faixa preta, 3. 0 grau”] (Correio Paulistano 6-10-39).
Collapsing some of the connected trees, we have the following lineages for the Gracies:
- Conde Koma3
- Donato Pires dos Reis (Belém)
- Carlos Gracie
- George Gracie
- Ricardo Nibbon
- Camillo Hollanda
- Donato Pires dos Reis (Belém)
- Jose Barbosa
- Carlos Gracie
- Helio Gracie
- Oswaldo Gracie
- Mirando Neto
- Jorge Saldanha
- Dante Carvalho
- Euripedes Dornelo
- Gastão Gracie Filho
- Ennio Voss
- Dr. Adhemar Barbosa