Do You Know Your BJJ History?

Sitting in a circle of BJJ guys the other day I referenced the name Royce Gracie and was greeted by several blank looks from the new BJJ guys around the table.

“What?! You guys don’t know who Royce Gracie is!?!” I was incredulous. But they just shrugged their shoulders and said, “Have no idea, bro.”

Perhaps I am betraying my age, but Royce in the earliest UFC was the reason I got into BJJ. And I believe that every guy who puts on a kimono at a BJJ academy in North America (if not many places in the world) owes something to the legacy the Gracie family. After all, they exposed the world to Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

To have a little fun, I am going to ask a few questions to test your BJJ history knowledge. The answers are at the bottom of the page.

1) Who was Mitsuyo Maeda? (hint: not something served with a side of rice and miso soup!)

2) What was the name of the former Gracie student who defeated Helio Gracie in a match and caused young Carlson Gracie to step up and defend the Gracie name?

3) What is the name of the grainy, VHS footage that shows the challenge matches held in the Gracie academies?

4) What year was the first Mundials / World Championships of Brazilian jiu-jitsu held?

5) What was the name of the best fighter in the Gracie family and significant innovator of jiu-jitsu who died young in a hang gliding accident?

6) How did the Kimura lock get its name?

7) Which Gracie family member is the founder of the IBJJF and Gracie Barra?

8) Who is the first American to win a black belt Mundials title?

9) This is a tough one: who were the first two BJJ black belts to fight against each other in the UFC?

10) What does “creonte” mean?

helio gracie


1) Mitsuyo Maeda was the Japanese judoka who taught the older Gracies their first jiu-jitsu.

2) Waldemar Santana

3) Gracies in Action 1 & 2

4) 1996

5) Rolls Gracie is acknowledged as one of the most important innovators in BJJ history.

6) The double wrist lock is the hold used by Masahiko Kimura to defeat Helio Gracie (who was greatly outweighed) in a historic match in Brazil.

7) Carlos Gracie Jr.

8) BJ Penn World Champion (black belt division, 2000)

9) Bj Penn vs. Matt Serra WAAAAYY back at UFC 39

10) Credited to Carlson Gracie Sr., it was a character in a Brazilian TV soap opera and denotes a traitor or someone who is not loyal to their academy and team.

If you failed this test, you need to get a copy of “The Gracie Way” and eat some acai until you fare better!

Read also on Jiu-jitsu Times: “I’m Not Getting Any Better!”


  1. Love your articles professor Mullen. But i think the first match between two BBs was John Lewis vs Lowell Anderson in UFC 22.


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