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Does Lineage Matter in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?

April 16, 2023

Does Lineage Matter in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) is a martial art that has gained significant popularity in recent years. BJJ is now one of the foundational skills in mixed martial arts (MMA) and is also widely recognized as a highly effective self-defense system. As BJJ has grown, the importance of lineage in the art has become a topic of discussion. In short, does lineage matter in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?

To answer this question, we need to first understand what lineage means in the context of BJJ. Lineage is like a family tree. It refers to the succession of instructors and students that can be traced back to the roots of the art. In the case of BJJ, this means tracing the lineage back to the originators of the art – the Gracie family – in Brazil. Many of the most well-known BJJ instructors today are either members of the Gracie family or can trace their lineage back to the Gracie family.

The argument for the importance of lineage in BJJ is that it ensures the purity of the art. As the art is passed down from generation to generation, the techniques and principles remain intact, ensuring that they are not diluted. It is like water flowing from a pure source. The closer you are to the source, the purer the water will be.

While lineage is not the only factor that determines the quality of instruction, it is an important one. Having a strong lineage ensures that instructors are connected to the roots of the art and can pass that knowledge and ethos on to their students.

In BJJ, lineage is especially important for those interested in using the art for self-defense. Gracie Jiu Jitsu places a strong emphasis on practical self-defense techniques that can be used in real-world situations. In contrast, sport BJJ focuses on techniques that are effective in competitions but may not be as effective in self-defense situations.

For example, one major difference between sport BJJ and self-defense BJJ is the use of strikes. In self-defense BJJ, students learn how to defend against strikes and how to use strikes to create openings for submissions. In sport BJJ, strikes are not allowed, so students do not need to learn how to defend against them or how to use them in their own game.

At Cactus Jiu Jitsu in Scottsdale, Ed Maguire and Val Larralde are both black belts in BJJ under Master Pedro Sauer. Master Sauer received his black belt from Grandmaster Helio Gracie (one of the founders of the art) and Grandmaster Rickson Gracie (one of the greatest practitioners of the art). This lineage ensures that the techniques and principles taught at Cactus Jiu Jitsu are well connected with the roots of the art as passed down by its masters.

In conclusion, lineage matters in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. At Cactus Jiu Jitsu in Scottsdale, Arizona, we have a short lineage back to the Gracie family in Brazil. With that lineage, we are dedicated to preserving the self-defense aspects of Gracie Jiu Jitsu as taught to us by Master Pedro Sauer and numerous members the Gracie family.

--Ed Maguire

About the author: Ed Maguire is a black belt in Gracie Jiu Jitsu under Master Pedro Sauer. He is also the owner of Cactus Jiu Jitsu Academy in Scottsdale, Arizona.


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