1 Oct 2009

Ten Years of British BJJ

This photo is amazing. I spotted it whilst trawling old forum posts about the history of BJJ in the UK. It shows the first ever BJJ tournament, which happened in 1999. The darkened vignetting on the photo adds to the feeling of a long forgotten past, but its only ten years ago - that's nothing really, is it? I'm using this tournament as an excuse to say that BJJ is ten years old in the UK this year.

Memories are kind of hazy as to when BJJ was first showcaseed here. But several online sources document when and where certain events happened, together with personal anecdotes and stories. You can read them here on SFUK and here on the EFN forum. There is also a good write up of BJJ in the UK by Slidey on his blog.

To summarise, here's a rough timeline of key events:

1993 Royce Gracie wins UFC 1
1997 Arlans Sequeira teaches a BJJ class in Tottenham

1998 Chen Moraes teaches BJJ at the Budokwai judo dojo
1998 Mauricio 'Motta' Gomes arrives in the UK and establishes Gracie Barra UK
1999 First British BJJ tournament run by Chen Moraes
1999 Royce gives his first seminar in the UK

2001 Roger Brooking opens his academy in Seymour Place, London
2002 Carlson Gracie London Team open under Wilson Junior and Luca Menegacci 2002 Braulio Estima begins teaching at GB Brum
2004 Roger Gracie Academy opens in Ladbroke Grove, London
2005 Mauricio promotes Jude Samuel, Marc Walder and Rick Young - first ever British black belts (although Roger Brooking is British by birth).

[Side note: The first Brit to train 'Gracie' style jiu-jitsu is most probably Rick Young, who went the the USA to learn from the Gracies in 1984.]

Fast forward to today, 2009, and according the Slidey's excellent UK BJJ List, there are now over 180 places to train BJJ in the UK (22 in London alone). And it continues to grow. Who knows how big BJJ will be in another ten years?

Just for the record, my first ever BJJ lesson was in 2003. What an exciting time it must have been to experience those early days just after the first UFC. Imagine training in California with all the older Gracie brothers (before they all split up and ran their own schools). Imagine talking about this new fangled thing called Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and being laughed at by other martial artists who think groundfighting will never catch on. Oh imagine....

About the Author

Meerkatsu

Author & Artist

Meerkatsu is the artist name for BJJ black belt Seymour Yang.

3 comments:

artofjits said...

Nostalgia or what. Not personally but i know a few people who would have been around at the time. It all had to start somewhere. I think its a good time to be a practitioner.

Chen Moraes said...

Nice job collecting all this info. You can also find more about articules related with the beginning of BJJ in UK from my facebook profile page.
I will soon arrange a seminar in UK and I will let you know.
http://www.facebook.com/chen.moraes

Kind Regards
Chen Moraes

Chen Moraes said...

Nice job collecting all this info. You can also find more about articles related with the beginning of BJJ in UK from my facebook profile page.
I will soon arrange a seminar in UK and I will let you know.
http://www.facebook.com/chen.moraes

Kind Regards
Chen Moraes

 

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