Mission Statement

Mission Statement

The UKBJJA is a not-for profit organisation which aims to provide a governance structure for the martial art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, that promotes and develops the sport while allowing individual clubs and practitioners the space and freedom to practice the martial art in the way they enjoy . Formed in 2013, it was founded by leading, experienced black belts in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu – Dickie Martin, Simon Hayes and Dave Coles – who wished to provide direction and safeguards for a sport which was rapidly expanding in the UK. The association’s goal is to foster the development the of BJJ at elite, community and grassroots levels, raising the profile of the sport but also providing pathways for development and involvement across communities in the UK. The UKBJJA’s stated aims are:

  1. To preserve and protect the integrity of BJJ as a performance based martial art
  2. To promote BJJ and encourage wider participation in all areas of the sport
  3. To provide a framework for national recognition of the sport
  4. To preserve the integrity of the ranking system
  5. To provide a framework for competitions and individual schools to follow to ensure minimum standards of safety and good practice
  6. To represent all clubs and members in a democratic and transparent manner


History of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, ‘the gentle at’ or arte suave is a martial art which has its origins in Japanese fighting systems. BJJ focuses on the use of leverage and position to achieved submission holds and chokes, a ‘gentle’ form of combat rather than kenjitsu, rigid arts, using weapons or striking. Japanese Jiu jitsu artist Mitsuyo Maeda championed the self-defence virtues of his art, as he travelled across the US and South America in the early 20th century, and in the Brazilian city of Belem in 1917, a teenager named Carlos Gracie watched Maeda fight. He was inspired by this style which allowed a smaller opponent to defeat a much larger assailant, even when armed, and began to learn from Maeda. This would become his life’s passion, and 13 of Carlos’ 21 children went on to become back belts in the sport.

Traditional Japanese styles were moulded into a new martial art with its own distinctive character, where individuals fighting of their backs could still apply dangerous submission holds. Opponents engaged in ‘vale tudo’ fights, with no time limits or rules, and stories of Helios, Carlos’ son, submitting bigger opponents have become part of BJJ legend. Academies sprung up over Brazil and high profile matches fuelled the growth of Jiu Jitsu.

 The art has grown in popularity in the Americas and beyond, and in the 1990s, the start of The UFC brought BJJ to a global audience, when BJJ players such as Royce Gracie took part in mixed martial arts bouts against a range of competitors. BJJ has become part of the standard training for MMA fighters. The sport is now practised across the globe and tournaments are held in a variety of international locations, with the European and World championships attracting over 3000 competitors. In the UK there are now thousands of practitioners, many of whom are winning tournaments at the highest level of international competition.

BJJ in the UK and the formation of the UKBJJA

When Brazilian Jiu Jitsu arrived in the UK at the end of the 90’s many cities held seminars for visiting Brazilian Black Belt Instructors but is was London and Birmingham who saw Black Belts first taking up residency to start regular classes first. Mauricio Gomes and Chen Moraes started teaching at the Custard Factory in Birmingham and The Budokwai in London. Wilson Junior, a Brazilian travelling in London started teaching in Earls Court and now runs one of the biggest, multiple location teams in the country. Roger Brooking, a Brazilian with an English father began to teach at Seymour Leisure Centre in London and Braulio Estima at Stevie B’s gym in Birmingham. Among their first students were the three pioneers of the UKBJJA, Dave Coles, Richard Martin and Simon Hayes. Other Instructors were responsible for introducing the sport into other areas of the UK: Marc Walder and his influence on Essex BJJ and his success running the earliest European Invitational competition; Pedro Bessa a Brazilian Black Belt Instructor whose influence on the growth of the sport in Bristol and Wales is extensive; Chris Rees ran the first seminar in Wales and runs a full-time academy in Cardiff and has produced many champion; .Alex De Souza was responsible for the growth of the sport on the south coast and ran one of the biggest early competitions. Each city and town has its own success story but what they all have in common is that through collaboration with the wider community they have seen this previously unheard of martial art grow from a tiny seed into the huge competitive sport it is today.

As a successful component in the sport of MMA, but a component that can be trained safely without striking or impact it immediately became popular for both fitness and self-defence. It has grown from small pockets of practitioners training in sports halls and hired rooms into the country’s fastest growing martial art with many full-time academies running successfully in cities and towns across the UK. Along with the healthy lifestyle BJJ promotes a busy competition circuit has developed and the UK has a number of home-grown athletes who are World ranked. The UK BJJ community has always enjoyed strong relationships with good communication between separate clubs and teams and this has been one of the major factors in the success of the tournament circuit. For many years the sport ran without a National Governing Body but in 2012 members of the different clubs and teams decided that for the ongoing growth of the sport and the safety and co-ordination of the competitive side of the sport, the UKBJJA should be formed. As discussions progressed it became clear that supporting local communities, youth and disabled BJJ players would also become a main priority of the association. In 2015 the criteria to become recognised by Sport England was achieved and an application presented.

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