Brazilian Jiu Jitsu ( BJJ )

Part of Team OG(Oliver Geddes) from Groningen ( head coach brown belt Barry van Dorssen) and Team GFA ( ground fighting Academy ) in Leeuwarden ( head coach brown belt Arnoud Terpstra )

So for some of you this might be old news but I want to tell you a bit about the sport Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. What is it exactly? and how did it start? Also I will explain how I ended up doing this sport. And what makes me like it so much. It might even convince you to look up your local BJJ gym.

Team Kaishin ( head coach 1st degree Black belt Henk Heneweer) From Almere

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

For the exact history I advice you to go on deeper dive on Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. But this is what I learned and what I know about the History of BJJ. Mitsuyo Maeda was a great martial artist. Who had studied many different grappling styles of Martial arts. Just to name a few he was known as one of the greatest Judo fighters, He had practiced the art of Jiu Jitsu. And you could say he was an MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) fighter. Records say he never lost one of his thousand and more fights. It so happend to be that Mitsuyo Maeda traveled around the world for these Fights. After his retirement of competition, He settled down in Brazil. Where he opened a school for Jiu Jitsu,

Mitsuyo Maeda

Gracie family

This is where the Gracie family starts coming in and where Brazilian jiu jitsu starts taking form. To be more specific Carlos Gracie became a student of Maeda. After years of learning the art of jiu jitsu Carlos openend his own school. Here the Gracie family (Carlos and his younger brother Hélio) perfected the Techniques. But they added the skill of thinking about a real fight and how to act in those situations. These combinations of skills needed to be tested and they did so by organizing. No holds barred fights in their gym. No holds barred essentially means anything goes. This soon became known as the Gracie challenge, because they ended up being victorious against all kinds of martial artists. People started to know the sport as Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Fast forward a couple of years. A couple of members of the Gracie family moved to the United States to open there BJJ gym. Too later on start the well known MMA organization called UFC ( ultimate fighting championship ). Here Royce Gracie showed off the art that is Brazilian jiu Jitsu. by becoming the tournaments champion on multiple occasions. This boosted the popularity of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu enormously and it still does.

Now I know how it came to be, but what is it exactly?

I always try to keep this answer as simple as possible. When people ask me or, When they assume I am doing some sort of Karate or Brazilian fighting dance (Capoeira). This answer nine times out of ten is ” its a combination of Judo and wrestling the whole purpose of BJJ is to control the opponent on the ground”. And most of the time I will leave it at that. Not because I don’t want to tell more about the sport, But when I do start to tell you more about it. I get so enthusiastic that for some people it might feel like the brake of the rattling cart is missing. But since you are here, let me start the more detailed explanation.

Folding clothes whilst the people are still in it.

To start of simple, the goal of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu you can argue is to survive. Some people might disagree with me on this point, and if you do I would love to know your perspective. The way BJJ is set up is to take a standing opponent down to the ground, and from that moment on control him. Working your way up to a superior positions. While still controlling your opponent. If you made it this far in the sequence, the best ending would be submitting your opponent. What submitting means I hear some of you ask? Well the quick version is searching for and then applying ways to over-stretch joints and choke specific arteries of your opponent. Sounds fun right? Luckily for the practitioners there is a way to stop the submission from getting worse , when you are caught in one. This by a quick TAP (or most of the time three consecutive taps). These taps stand for I give up you got me. It is somewhat of a holy rule a tap means stop no mater the situation you are in at that moment. Tapping can happen by using your hands on the ground or opponent , or with your feet or even by vocalizing it. Screaming ‘TAP!’ in panic will happen in some occasions. Now that we established the base of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

What are superior positions?

I can only really explain this with pictures and even than there are so many. But lets go trough a couple of positions, and use the pictures from IBJJF ( International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation ) rule book.

Side control ( IBJJF rulebook )

The first picture shows Side control, when applied correctly. this position you most of the time will end up in as soon as you manage to get past the legs ( guard, open guard ). Of course there are other positions you can get in when passing the guard. This is just my personal experience. I also see most of the time after establishing side control. Allot of people will try moving on to an ever better position with even more control.

Mount ( IBJJF rulebook )

Second picture shows the position that is called mount. Now this is position that has a lot more control than the previous one. When full mount is established, most of the time the focus of the person on top starts to shift too searching for and trying to apply submissions. Again this is my personal experience with this. But it so happens that this still is not the best position to be obtained.

Back mount ( IBJJF rulebook )

The third picture shows the position that is called Back mount. This position is the best control to get, According to many people. I agree but not everyone does. You control the opponent and the only two things the opponent can think about is, get out and defend. While as controller of this position your mind will most likely be on keeping control and attacking. Maybe I am wrong about this but in that case leave a comment.

How I ended up doing the sport.

When I was younger I played mostly field hockey, and had the kids judo lesson. The judo went and the field hockey I kept doing for twelve years. Then my parents wanted to move to another province in the Netherlands and I got asked if I wanted to move with them or live on my own. After choosing to move with them I needed a new sport. The sport I started doing was waterpolo highly underestimated how hard that sport is. But after a couple of years of doing that, I started to move out and live on my own. And again needed a different sport. 

Royce Gracie winning the UFC 1 ( also on the picture Hélio Gracie ) 1993


Around that time I found UFC an MMA fighting show and I got hooked. My next sport then would also be MMA this however changed really quickly. After a year I started to go to all kinds of Martial art gyms in the city, to see how training is there. At one of those gyms I was like they do the submissions I already know, Because of the MMA lessons. Here I could not have been more wrong, I got thrown around like I was some sort of test dummy. The best part of it is I loved it because it showed me how much more there is to learn. That sport was Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and I have not stoped since. Only my work sometimes prohibits me from doing the sport. But then again my job also gives me the opportunity to train in other country’s. This is also become some what of a rule for me, when I visit an other country. What I will do is I look up two things what are nice places to go and take a look. And secondly where is the nearest BJJ gym so I can train. Here under a couple of the teams I have trained with at the moment of writhing this blog.

GFTEAM Norway (head coach 4th degree black belt Gilberto Ferraz) and Team Kimura(head coach Blackbelt Jose Carlos Kimura) in Stavanger
Team Gracie Jiu Jitsu Lisboa ( head coach black belt João Santos)
Team Pedro Bessa ( head coach black belt Liam Beechinor ) in Cork
Gym 01 ( head coach black belt Colin Howells ) in Portsmouth UK

Why do you like this sport so much?

For people outside of a martial art sport this might sound strange. What I like about this sport is how you find out the absolute limit of what your body is capable of. For people who are not used to these kinds of sports or any sport for that matter. Chances are that your body is capable of a lot more than you think it is. What else I really like about this sport is the community around it. No matter where I go if I ask if it is possible to join a training, they are always friendly and most welcoming to invite you over for a training session. Also in allot of martial arts ego is a big thing. If you don’t believe in yourself who does right? But in BJJ for some reason we all know what happens when ego takes over, and it makes it so that no matter what belt color you are. People will help you or ask you how you achieved certain moves and after a rough rolling session. They will invite you to a party or a lunch or so. That I absolutely like best being able to kill each other on the mat and be friends after. There are also BJJ camps and I went to two of them at the moment of writing this blog. The camps are amazing its rolling and partying non stop for a week, with like minded people. And after the week is over you have addiction withdrawal symptoms. Of missing the best time you can possibly have with hundreds of strangers who end up being BJJ friends over the globe.

BJJ Globetrotters Winter camp in Wagrain, Austria 2018
BJJ Globetrotters Summer camp in Leuven, Belgium 2017

Friday  28-12-18

I hope this blog post helped you understand a bit more about Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Most likely there will follow more blogs about the sport, but mainly because of personal experiences. If you have any suggestions or feedback what so ever please feel free to tell me. This will be the post for now cause i am going to todays training. hope you liked the read.


This will be the last post for this year. Next year new posts will follow. Maybe my first travel blog post. But for now to everyone who took the time to read this before the end of the year. I wish you a happy strong and healthy new year make it the best year yet.


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