History + Benefits

Andre Maneco Chicago Jiu JitsuThe History of BJJ

In 1914, Mitsuyo Maeda arrived in Brazil. A Japanese judo practitioner and prize fighter, he had fought in thousands of “no-holds-barred” competitions around the world to demonstrate the effectiveness of his art. In Brazil, Maeda befriended Gastão Gracie and began to instruct his teenage son, Carlos, in the martial arts. At this time, Carlos’ younger brother, Hélio, suffered health issues that precluded him from training. Eventually Hélio overcame these obstacles and joined his brother, evolving Maeda’s teachings into what is now known as Brazilian jiu-jitsu. The Gracie brothers refined, adapted, and enhanced Japanese jiu-jitsu techniques, thereby creating a new and devastatingly effective system of fighting. The art was quickly disseminated throughout Brazil, and thereafter the world, by Carlos and Hélio’s extended family and their students. Tried and tested through competition and combat, Brazilian jiu-jitsu now stands as the most realistic and practical form of martial arts training available.


Brazilian jiu-jitsu is a form of fighting that employs leverage, mechanical advantage, and submission techniques to secure victory. The Brazilian jiu-jitsu fighter seeks to take his opponent to the ground in order to neutralize imbalances of strength and limit the effectiveness of striking. Positional control is achieved through throws, sweeps, holds, and transitions, allowing smaller individuals gain an advantage over larger opponents. Joint locks and chokeholds enable the skilled Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioner to disable their opponent or render them unconscious. Victory in live sparring is achieved when an opponent “taps out”, a symbolic surrender in the face of insurmountable odds.

Benefits of BJJ

The benefits of Brazilian jiu-jitsu are numerous and diverse. Regular training boosts self-esteem, relieves stress and improves mental and physical health. Practicing BJJ aids weight-loss and increases fitness, dexterity and flexibility. Self-defence techniques give students the confidence and the ability to deal with threatening situations, irrespective of strength or size. Because BJJ emphasizes technique and skill rather than power and aggression, it is the ideal martial art for smaller individuals, young people, and women. The absence of striking in Brazilian jiu-jitsu also allows practitioners to spar every day at maximum effort without fear of concussive injury. This not only protects the body, but also allows for harder and more dynamic training.

At Soul Fighters Chicago, students of all skill levels come together to pursue their journeys in jiu-jitsu. Training takes place in a welcoming and positive environment, with every student invested in the safety and progress of all others. Soul Fighters Chicago is not just somewhere to work out, but a second-home: a place to make friends, learn new skills, share ideas, and have fun.


childrenAndreManecoBenefits of BJJ for Children

Brazilian jiu-jitsu provides a great platform for children’s personal development. The art’s self-defence techniques promote self-confidence and offer an invaluable resource for dealing with bullies. Because BJJ focuses on grappling, not striking, it gives children non-violent options in situations where physical conflict may be unavoidable.

Brazilian jiu-jitsu an excellent form of exercise, and has proven extremely effective in combating childhood obesity. BJJ encourages children to be active and physically fit, offering a healthy antidote to the sedentary lifestyles mandated by schoolwork, video games, and television.

Brazilian jiu-jitsu training also develops a child’s sense of self-discipline. The art’s techniques require rigorous practice to master. As children improve their technique and skill, they also become better at setting personal goals and overcoming adversity.

Most importantly, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu teaches children to respect themselves, their training partners, and their instructors. The academy requires children to act in accordance a clear set of rules, which reinforce good behaviour, curb aggressive tendencies, and foster positive relationships with peers and adults.