But when Jiu Jitsu was first developed and taught in Brazil by the Gracie family, it was mostly about self defense. Jiu Jitsu taught its students how to survive in the streets, alleys and favelas of Brazil, where fighting was common. According to my BJJ teachers, the Vale Tudo (Anything Goes) matches were an extension of this focus and sport Jiu Jitsu only developed later.
The Gracies still focus much of their training in this crucial aspect of the martial arts and, I believe, all their new students first learn the self defense curriculum of Jiu Jitsu before progressing to the sport techniques. As a reminder of Jiu Jitsu’s streetfighting roots, the legendary Relson Gracie shows us some of the basic self defense curriculum in this video. Jiu Jitsu self defense is simple, direct and effective. The techniques are meant to be easily learned and recalled under the duress of a real life altercation. Hopefully none of us will ever have to use these moves in the street, but practice them well. There is always the chance we might.