Exclusive: Maeda Was Already Teaching Jiu-Jitsu In Rio 10 Years Before The Gracies

Exclusive: Maeda Was Already Teaching Jiu-Jitsu In Rio 10 Years Before The Gracies



Brazilian Newspapaer O Globo recently ran a exclusive story (in Portuguese) which sheds new light on the roots ofJudo/Jiu-Jitsu or Gracie Jiu-Jitsu/ BJJ in Brazil. It not a very known fact that there were other sources of Jiu-Jitsu in Brazil that happened at the same time as the Gracies. Maeda (conde Koma) wasn’t the only Japanese teaching jiujitsu/judo in Brazil. Takeo Yano came to Brazil around the same time. He taught in Pernambuco, and some of his students include Jurandir Moura & Ivan Gomes ( Ivan Gomes fought Carlson Gracie Sr). Another lineage is Satake-Vinicius Ruas- Marco Ruas. However we can agree that the Gracie Family can take the  credit for popularizing Jiu-Jitsu throughout the world.

Here are the main recent findings regarding Maeda’s arrival in Sao Paulo and in Rio de Janeiro and their teaching Jiu-Jitsu as early as 1914:

The arrival in Sao Paulo

As Maeda traveled through Latin America he stopped by many countries fighting in theatres and circuses and connecting with other masters of jiu-jitsu or fighters. One of the new findings change the date and place of arrival in Brazil Maeda, who until then was seen as November 14, 1914 in Porto Alegre. According to researcher Fabio Quio Takao: “According to some new documents we don’t have yet the new exact date of the arrival of Maeda, but it was certainly among the first days of July 1914, in the port of Santos. The proof is the announcement of the Journal of the State of Sao Paulo July 17, 1914 where a teacher of Jiu Jitsu offers classes in the neighborhood of Liberdade, a traditional stronghold of the Japanese newcomers to Sao Paulo. ”

Advert published in the Journal of the State of Sao Paulo on July 17, 1914. Maeda’s name does not appear yet.

Regarding the name Jiu Jitsu used in ads, the group was presented as masters of Jiu-Jitsu and Judo. Obviously this should not be suggested as evidence that Maeda represented the ancient Japanese ju-jutsu. At that time, the name judo was still virtually unknown in Brazil and it would make sense that presentations use the name ‘Jiu-Jitsu’.

Conde Koma in Rio de Janeiro

To the surprise of many and probably unknown fact even to the Gracie family, the city that would become the birthplace of Gracie Jiu Jitsu had already received a visit from Conde Koma. On March 11, 1915, a tournament was announced in Rio de Janeiro: ‘The 2nd Championship of Jiu Jitsu’. It is doubtful whether there had been other event considered by Maeda as the 1st or if it was some kind of ploy to attract more public attention. Gazeta News announced: “They are part of the ‘troupe’ with the following fighters: Conde Koma world champion; Satake, New York champion; Okura, champion of Chile; Matsuwra, champion of Peru; Hara, Tokyo champion; Ja finds himself Rio champion and Akiyama of North America. .Speaking to reporters, Maeda presents the group and launches the challenge to locals offering the equivalent of 20,000 dollars to who could resist more than 15 minutes…This all happened years before Maeda would teach Jiu-Jitsu to Carlos Gracie and other Brazilian students such Luis Franca.

Shot in Cuba in1912, Maeda’s group, which appeared two years later in Brazil. From left to right: , Tokugoro Ito, Nobushiro Shutaro Satake and Ono, Conde Koma (Maeda)

A diagram showing the lineages of Jiu-Jitsu in Brazil


if you want to learn more about the fascinating beginnings of Judo/Jiu-Jitsu in Brazil, check out this article