What is BJJ?

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) is a grappling-based martial art, its central theme is the skill of controlling a resisting opponent in ways that force him to submit. Due to the fact that control is generally easier on the ground than in a standing position, much of the technique of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is centered round the skill of taking an opponent down to the ground and wrestling for dominant control positions from where the opponent can be rendered harmless.

To control and overcome greater size, strength and aggression with lesser size and strength is the keynote of the sport. This is done by utilizing superior leverage, grip and position upon your opponent. Students of the sport gain a deep understanding of the workings and limits of the human body.

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The Gracie Family in 1981

The Gracie Family in 1981

Brief History Of Jiu Jitsu

In the last days of the 19th century, some Jiu-Jitsu masters emigrated from Japan to other continents, teaching the martial arts as well as taking part in fights and competitions. Mitsuyo Maeda was one such master. Maeda arrived in Brazil in 1915, and settled in Belem do Para, where he met a man named Gastao Gracie.

The father of eight children, among them five boys and three girls, Gastao became a Jiu-Jitsu enthusiast and brought his oldest son, Carlos, to learn from the Japanese master.

For a naturally frail fifteen-year old Carlos Gracie, Jiu-Jitsu became a method not simply for fighting, but for personal improvement. At nineteen, he moved to Rio de Janeiro with his family and began teaching and fighting. In his travels, Carlos would teach classes, and also proved the efficiency of the art by beating opponents who were physically stronger. In 1925, he returned to Rio and opened the first school, known as the "Academia Gracie de Jiu-Jitsu."

Jiu Jitsu promotes the concept that a smaller, weaker person can successfully defend against a bigger, stronger assailant by using leverage and proper technique.

The Importance of Jiu Jitsu in MMA


The first steps of MMA were given in 1920’s Brazil, these events were called “Vale Tudo” (anything goes). They were unsanctioned bouts with no rules, no gloves, no weight categories and most of the times they did not have a time limit. It was in these bouts that the Gracie’s made their mark and created a name for themselves throughout the nation.

While the Brazilian Vale Tudo was popular, the same was not happening in the United States. It was again through the Gracie family’s efforts that the sport was put in its place. In trying to prove that their style was the best martial art, the Gracie’s developed a No Holds Barred event, this event was the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), it had the same principle as the Vale Tudo events back in Brazil. The first champion to emerge from this event was Royce Gracie. With time the fighters became more well rounded learning all facets of the game. Today, Jiu Jitsu is still one of the most important disciplines in the sport.

When the sport started in the US in the early 1990’s, the same seemed to happen in Japan around the same time. Considered the birth nation of Martial Arts, Japan would seem to have a head start when it came to No Holds Barred. When MMA (Vale Tudo) emerged in Japan, another Gracie name rose above all others, Rickson Gracie, considered by many the greatest BJJ competitor of all time, Rickson remained undefeated throughout his career, and once again cemented the Gracie name.

Click on the video below to see Premier fighter Rick Selvarajah on Europe's leading MMA show, showing how effective Premier Jiu Jitsu can be.

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In addition to our extensive Jiu Jitsu in Ruislip & Harrow, Premier also offer Catch Wrestling and No Gi BJJ. Head Coach Chris Foran is certified under the legendary Billy Robinson (pictured below), The late Billy Robinson is considered as one of the best Catch Wrestlers and catch coaches in the world, he coached 'The Gracie Hunter' Sakuraba & UFC fighter Josh Barnett.

At Premier we are proud to host a three day Catch Wrestling course every year with Josh Barnett & 'The Pinnisher' Wade Schalles. Check our News page and social media for upcoming dates.

catch wrestling harrow


Originally developed in the 1870s, Catch Wrestling as a grappling style has always been seen as a possible jiu-jitsu killer.  Whereas Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is considered “The Gentle Art” Catch Wrestling is the “Brutal Art”.  While BJJ practitioners’ goal is generally to control an opponent by effectively moving with them, a catch wrestler’s objective is more in line with wrestling, in that pinning is a viable option, but catch wrestlers can use submissions to attain the pin…

ju jitsu in harrow

The past few years, the leg lock game has become a major aspect of competition grappling, more so than ever before.  One result of this has been the development of “new” systems, but another, far more interesting result has been the resurgence in popularity of certain grappling arts.  Perhaps one of the most interesting of these is Catch Wrestling, also known as “Catch as Catch Can.”

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A man by the name of Mitsuyo Maeda taught Carlos Gracie (older brother of Helio Gracie) to fight. What most do not know is that Maeda perfected his system competing in Catch-As-Catch-Can tournaments (as “Count Koma”) at the turn of the 20th Century. Maeda is rumored to have fought over 2,000 matches in his career and he only lost two matches one of which was in the “catch-as-catch-can” world championships held in London (he entered in both the middleweight and heavyweight divisions and advanced to the semi-finals in two weight classes) Another grappler Masahiko Kimura learned legitimate Catch-As-Catch-Can while working as a Professional Wrestler for Rikidozan in the early 1950s. Later Kimura would go on to beat Helio Gracie with the bread and butter hold of Catch Wrestling; the Double Wrist Lock (AKA Kimura). Another thing many people don’t know is that Catch wrestling has also had a long history with Judo and has heavily influenced today’s Mixed Martial Arts.

As in most similar styles there is always the debate over which style is best. No particular style is better than the other, they are just different. We are all working for the same result but have different thoughts on how to attain them.

There are many differences between Catch and BJJ; Catch wrestling is known for being a brutal and aggressive style based on physics, leverage, control, and athleticism and Jujitsu translates to the gentle art. The BJJ practitioner is generally very methodical, working for the perfect position then going for the submission, whereas the Catch wrestler usually moves at a very fast and aggressive pace and is focused on controlling his opponent, making him react to certain movements and ultimately ending the match with a quick submission.

The chance of being pinned is one of the biggest differences between Catch and BJJ. The guard is pretty much obsolete in Catch because if the bottom guy’s shoulders go flat the match is over. Coming from a style where there are no points for positions and a pin could end the match, the Catch Wrestler prefers (but is not limited to) top control. Catch wrestling also has a wide variety of positions, leg locks, neck cranks and throws not usually found in BJJ. Most people aren’t aware that BJJ was actually influenced by Catch Wrestling.


grappling in harrow

In Brazil, Catch wrestling became an integral style in the Vale Tudo scene, specifically in its use by Luta Livre practitioners and in North America Catch wrestling has always had a close association with professional wrestling, many catch wrestlers showcasing their techniques on the professional wrestling stage, but it wasn’t until the advent of MMA that Catch Wrestling’s efficacy against other grappling arts was made evident.

Grappling prodigies like Josh Barnett and Kazushi Sakuraba made very good use of their superior tactics and techniques to overcome Brazilian Jiu Jitsu experts.  Sakuraba famously dethroned Royce and Renzo Gracie with his impressive systematic use of Catch.

Catch focuses on an aspect of grappling that Brazilian Jiu Jitsu often ignores: the use of pain.  The concept is that if a grappler can cause an opponent pain, that opponent will have specific options insofar as viable responses.  These responses then evoke follow-up options for the grappler that can lead to submissions or improvements of position.