Jiu Jitsu History: A Timeline Starting From 1460

Early Jiu Jitsu History

Jiu Jitsu is thought to have started in Japan around the first century. 

It grew more prominent by 1460. The earliest recorded use of the word “Jiu-Jitsu” happened in 1532 and is coined by Hisamori Tenenuchi, when he officially established the first school of Jiu-Jitsu in Japan

17th century The term jūjutsu was coined and was used to describe a wide variety of grappling-related disciplines and techniques. During this time, Jiu Jitsu schools would compete in challenge matches. Randori, or free training, was created to practice without risk of breaking Japanese law, which prevented fighting

17th Century Jiu Jitsu has boomed in popularity. More than 2000 Jiu Jitsu schools in Japan.

Late 1700’s Shin no Shinto-ryu (a style of Jiu Jitsu) was created by a palace guard at Osaka castle named Yamamoto Tamiza Hideya who had studied Yoshin-ryu before implementing changes in the curriculum and paring down the system to 68 techniques

Zenyo Jiu Jitsu History
An Early Depiction of Jiu Jitsu In Japan

1800 Iso Mataemon Masatari (1787–1863) studied Yoshin-ryu under Hitotsuyanagi Oribe and Shin no Shinto-ryu under Homma Jouemon. He then went traveling and training throughout the country where he engaged in various competitions. Iso created a composite system based on the techniques of the Yoshin-ryu, Shin no Shinto-ryu and his experience and founded his own tradition called the Tenjin Shin’yo ryu around 1800

1830’s Iso founds Tenjin Shinyo-ryu (天神真楊流, Tenjin Shin’yō-ryū), meaning “Divine True Willow School”, can be classified as a traditional school (koryū) of jujutsu

1848–1864 Iso became the jujutsu instructor to the Tokugawa shogunate and his school flourished to become the most popular school of jujutsu of the time. Iso teaches 5000 students in that time

1854 Matthew Perry sails war ships into Tokyo Harbor. With the threat of “gunboat diplomacy,” Perry plays a leading role in the opening of Japan to the West with the Convention of Kanagawa in 1854

Zenyo Jiu Jitsu History
Matthew Perry Arrives In Japan, 1854

Central Figures In Jiu Jitsu History

Early Jiu Jitsu in Japan: Fukuda Hachinosuke, Iso Masatomo, Iikubo Tsunetoshi

Jiu Jitsu and Judo in Japan: Jigoro Kano (founder of Kodokan Judo in Tokyo) Yoshiaki Yamashita, Tomato Tsunejiro, Mitsuyo Maeda, Soshihiro Satake

Jiu Jitsu in Japan: Yataro Handa (Founder of Handa dojo in Osaka, Japan) Mataemon Tanabe, Yukio Tani, Sadakazu Uyenishi, Taro Miyake

Jiu Jitsu in Brazil: Mitsuyo Maeda, Carlos Gracie, George Gracie, Oswaldo Gracie, Helio Gracie, Carlson Gracie

Jiu Jitsu in America: Mitsuyo Maeda, Carley Gracie, Rolls Gracie, Rorion Gracie, Royce Gracie

Jiu Jitsu In Japan

Zenyo Jiu Jitsu History
Jiu Jitsu Master Yataro Handa, From Osaka
Zenyo Jiu Jitsu History
Jiu Jitsu master Mataemon Tanabe, born 1869 in Japan
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Yukio Tani
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Taro Miyake

1860 Birth of Jigoro Kano


? Yataro Handa — Very little seems to be known about life and death of Yataro Handa, who had a very prominent Jiu Jitsu dojo in Osaka

1869 Birth of Mataemon Tanabe

1877 Jigoro Kano takes interest in Jiu Jitsu. Kano’s starts studying with Fukuda Hachinosuke, a bonesetter who taught Tenjin Shin’yō-ryū (Jiu Jitsu) in a 10-mat room adjacent to his practice. Tenjin Shin’yō-ryū was itself a combination of two older schools: the Yōshin-ryū and Shin no Shindō-ryū 


1878 Birth of Mitsuyo Maeda

1879 Kanō participates in a Jiu Jitsu demonstration given in front of former United States president Ulysses S. Grant. This demonstration took place at the home of the prominent businessman Shibusawa Eiichi. Other people involved in this demonstration included the jūjutsu teachers Fukuda Hachinosuke and Iso Masatomo, and Kanō’s training partner Godai Ryusaku. Fukuda died soon after this demonstration, at the age of 52

1879 Kanō begins studying with Iso, who had been a friend of Fukuda. Due to Kanō’s intense practice and his solid grounding in the jujitsu taught by Fukuda, he soon becomes an assistant at Iso’s school


1881 Fukuda’s widow gives the scrolls of the school to Kanō, then 21 years old


1881 After Iso dies in 1881, Kanō began training in Kitō-ryū with Iikubo Tsunetoshi (Kōnen). Iikubo is an expert in kata and throwing, and fond of randori. Kanō applies himself thoroughly to learning Kitō-ryū, believing Iikubo’s throwing techniques in particular to be better than in the schools he has previously studied

1881 Birth of Yukio Tani

Class Stories

How our students use the science of training  to develop creative, individualized Jiu Jitsu 

Beginning Of Judo

Jigoro Kano Judo Founder
Jigoro Kano
Mitsuyo Maeda
Mitsuyo Maeda
Zenyo Jiu Jitsu History
Tsunejiro Tomita
Zenyo Jiu Jitsu History
Yoshiaki Yamashita

1882 Jigoro Kano adapts what he learned in Jiu Jitsu into his own style of martial art. He names it Judo, which means the gentle way. Kano founds Judo in Tokyo, Japan, in 1882. Kano calls his school the Kodokan – “a place to study the way.” Judo grows to be the largest martial art in the world


Eishoji Monastery, original location for Kodokan Judo



1883 Iikubo issues Kanō’s only verified jūjutsu rank and teaching credential, namely a certificate of Menkyo (not Menkyo kaiden) in Nihonden Kitō Jūdō, dated October 1883


1889 Kano gives public talk with several Americans present


1889 A Professor Ladd from Yale University trains in Kodokan Judo for 10 years


1891 Jujitsuka Mataemon Tanabe beats Kodokan judoka Takisaburo Tobari in challenge match winning by juji jime (cross choke)



1892-1900 Tanabe wins challenge matches against Kodokan Judo. Tanabe is then reported to have been solicited by Kano to teach his ground grappling for use by the Kodokan. Tanabe is said to never officially join the Kodokan


1895 Maeda joins Kodokan Judo


1895- 1898 E.W. Barton Wright, an English engineer, studies Jiu Jitsu and Kodokan Judo in Tokyo


1897-1902 American businessman Sam Hill visits Japan several times


1897 Reported opening of Handa dojo in Osaka under Yataro Handa


1897-1900 (?) Yukio Tani studies at Handa dojo. Tani’s father and grandfather are said to be friends with Mataemon Tanabe

Jiu Jitsu Leaves Japan

1898 Barton Wright returns to England

1900 Barton Wright starts school, called Bartitsu, using a blend of various martial arts he studied, including Jiu Jitsu

1900 Barton Wright brings Yukio Tani, his brother Kaneo and a fellow jujutsuka Seizo Yamamoto to London. Barton Wright is reported to have asked Kano for instructors and Kano recommended the jujitsukas

1900 Barton Wright brings Sadakazu Uyenishi to London to join Tani. Uyenishi is reported to have trained at Handa dojo 

1900 Tani competes in challenge matches

1902 Bartitsu school closes

1902 Birth of Carlos Gracie

1903 Uyenishi opens his School of Japanese Self Defense in London

Judo Leaves Japan

1903 Sam Hill invites Kodokan judoka Yoshiaki Yamashita (Four Guardians of Kokokan Judo) to Seattle to teach his son Judo

1903-4 (?) Yamashita and others open Seattle Dojo, continues until today

Jigoro Kano at Seattle Dojo

1904 Yamashita demonstrates Judo to President Teddy Roosevelt in Washington D.C.

1904 Taro Miyake a student of Mataemon Tanabe at Handa dojo gets fired from his police job for getting in fight and moves to London

1904 Tani and Miyake open School of Jiu Jitsu in London

1903-4 Japanese League asks Kano to send more Judoka to America

Maeda Leaves Japan

1904 Kano’s student Mitsuyo Maeda helps spread Judo around the world in the early 1900’s by competing in exhibition matches and prize fights. Maeda visits the United States in 1904

1904 Kodokan judoka Tsunejiro Tomita (Four Guardians of Kodokan Judo — Kano’s first student) — along with Mitsuyo Maeda and Soshihiro Satake — move to New York City

1905 Tomita and Maeda open judo club in NYC

1904(5)-7 Maeda and Satake compete in mixed style challenge matches in America. Maeda is documented to also have traveled to Georgia, North Carolina and Rhode Island

1905 On February 21, 1905, Tomita and Maeda give a Judo demonstration at the United States Military Academy at West Point. Reportedly they are being considered as instructors for the academy, but West Point instead hires world champion professional wrestler, Tom Jenkins, a job Jenkins kept until his retirement in 1942

1905 Yamashita is hired as Judo coach at U.S. Naval Academy

Zenyo Jiu Jitsu History
Zenyo Jiu Jitsu History

Jiu Jitsu In London

1905 Uyenishi writes Textbook of Ju Jitsu

1906 Tani and Miyake write Game of Ju Jitsu

1906 Gunji Koizumi becomes instructor in Liverpool, England at Kara Ashikaga School of Jujitsu

1906 Sadakazu Uyenishi opens Jiu Jitsu school in Piccadilly Circus, London. Joined by Koizumi

1907 Maeda leaves America for London 

1907 Maeda performs demonstration with Tani in London

1908 Maeda tours Europe with Miyake and Uyenishi competing in challenge matches

1909-1914 Maeda and Satake travel to Cuba, Mexico, Latin America competing in challenge matches

1908 (?) Uyenishi dies

Be Unbreakable

A workout for Jiu Jitsu to keep you strong, healthy and resilient for a lifetime on the mats

Jiu Jitsu In Brazil

Carlos Gracie
Carlos Gracie
Zenyo Jiu JItsu History
Helio Gracie
George Gracie
George Gracie
Oswaldo Gracie
Zenyo Jiu Jitsu History
Carlos Gracie In Action

1908 Sada Miyako, a Jiu Jitsu and Judo practitioner, arrives in Brazil

1909 Kodokan judoka Geo Omori opens first judo school in Brazil

1913 Birth of Helio Gracie

1914 Miyake moves to Seattle

1914 Maeda goes to Brazil

1917 Carlos Gracie is reported to watch Maeda at the circus owned by his father, Gastao Gracie

1917 Carlos Gracie is reported to train with Maeda, but only for a short time it seems

1918 Opening of Budokwai in London by Gunji Koizumi, where they teach Jiu Jitsu, continues until today

1920 Jigoro Kano visits the Budokwai while on his way to the Olympic Games in Antwerp. After some discussion, Koizumi and Yukio Tani (another Budokwai instructor) agreed to change to the judo system, and Kano awarded them 2nd dan judo certifications

1920s Carlos Gracie is reported to train with Donato Pires dos Reis, a student of Maeda. 

1920s Gracie and his brothers – especially Helio – start their own style of jiu jitsu. Carlos Gracie has 21 children; 13 become black belt in Jiu Jitsu

1921 Maeda opens academy in Brazil in Belem, called Clube Remo

1925 Opening of the Gracie Academy in 1925 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

? Carlos Gracie advertises for the new Gracie Academy: “If you want your face smashed and split open, your ass kicked and your arms broken, contact Carlos Gracie at this address.”

1932 Birth of Carlson Gracie, eldest son of Carlos Gracie

1930s – 1950s Carlos Gracie and his brothers, including Oswaldo, Gastao, George and Helio, compete in challenge matches in Brazil. Their goal is to create a Jiu Jitsu style for no-rules fighting

End of An Era

1935 Miyake dies (in America?)

1935 Yamashita dies

1937 Tomita dies

1938 Kano dies at sea while traveling on ocean liner

1938 Omori dies in Brazil

1941 Maeda dies in Brazil

1942 Tanabe dies in Osaka

1950 Tani dies in England

1951 Edward Barton-Wright dies in England

(Date of death of Satake is unknown)


1951 Helio Gracie issues a challenge against Masahiko Kimura. Gracie v. Kimura takes place on October 22, 1951 at Maracana Stadium in Rio. Kimura defeated Gracie by gyaku-ude-garami at the second round in a convincing fashion. Gyaku-ude-garami then went on to be known as the Kimura lock


Masahiko Kimura applying Ude Garami on Helio Gracie

Jiu Jitsu In America

Zenyo Jiu Jitsu History
Carley Gracie
Zenyo Jiu Jitsu History
Rolls Gracie
Rorion Gracie
Zenyo Jiu Jitsu History
Royce Gracie

1970s In the early 1970s, Carley Gracie trains US Marines based at the US consulate in Rio de Janeiro 


1972 Carley moves to the United States, where he fights challenge matches and trains students up and down the eastern seaboard. Carley teaches at the Marine Corps Base Quantico in Virginia


1978 Rorion Gracie moves to Southern California where he works as an extra in movies and television. He teaches Jiu Jitsu in his garage in Hermosa Beach, California


1979 Carley opens a school in San Francisco, California, where he still teaches


1979 Rolls Gracie, son of Carlos Gracie, travels to America with Bob Anderson, an American wrestler who had trained with him in Rio. Rolls competes and wins his division at the Pan American Championship


1985  Rorion invites his 18-year-old brother, Royce, to move to America


1989 Rorion with brothers Royce, Rickson and Royler, opens the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy in Torrance, California


1989 Andre Pedernerais receives black belt from Carlson Gracie in Brazil


1993 Brazilian Jiu Jitsu comes to attention in America when Helio Gracie’s son, Rorion, helps start the Ultimate Fighting Championship in 1993 in Denver, Colorado. Rorion’s brother, Royce, wins to become the first UFC champion

1998 Marcelo Pereira receives black belt from Andre Pedernerais. Marcelo, below right, wins his first World Championship in Rio

2006 Marcelo Moves to Naples, Florida 

2013 John David Emmett, center, receives black belt from Marcelo Pereira and Scott Oates

 John David Emmett Black Belt Promotion

Jiu Jitsu In Baltimore

2015 Zenyo Jiu Jitsu opens in Baltimore 


Our lineage can be listed as: Jigoro Kano > Mitsuyo Maeda > Carlos/Helio Gracie > Carlson Gracie > Andre Pederneiras > Marcelo Pereira/Scott Oates > John David Emmett > You

All About The Revolutionary Training Method We Use At Zenyo​

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