Third Way BJJ

We teach the art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

Jiu Jitsu is a sophisticated Martial Art with a rich history. It originated in Japan under the Samurai, was refined by the Gracie family in Brazil, and now enjoys worldwide popularity as the fastest growing and most effective martial art in the world.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu combines ground-based grappling, joint locks, chokes, Judo throws, and wrestling clinch-work and takedowns into an effective and well rounded self-defense system suitable for men and women of all ages.

Although there are many forms of Jiu Jitsu, the Brazilian style has distinguished itself at the highest levels of competition and combat. It is a foundational discipline of Mixed Martial Arts. In fact, the UFC was created by Rorion Gracie of the legendary Gracie Jiu Jitsu family. It also forms the basis of the U.S. Army’s Modern Combatives program.

We run a safe, friendly, and inclusive environment, offering classes both in the traditional Gi style, and the modern NO-Gi submission grappling variant.

History of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

In the late 1800s, Jigoro Kano founded an art called Judo. His new system was a synthesis of several classical styles of Jujitsu, but with the removal of techniques he felt were unsafe to practice at full intensity. One of Kano’s star pupils was an incredible athlete named Mtsuyo Maeda, who in 1877 was sent to the United States to spread the gospel of Judo.

Unfortunately Maeda didn’t have much success. His English was poor and he struggled to find enough students to make a living teaching an art few people had even heard of. Finally out of necessity he accepted a paid “no holds barred” match. However, there was a problem; Jigaro Kano had forbidden fighting for money. To solve this dilemma Maeda changed his name to Count Koma and called himself a Jiu Jitsu fighter (had Kano not forbidden him we would all be training Brazilian Judo today). This challenge match, which he won, lead to a career of approximately 1000 matches over a 10 year period. It is said that he never lost a fight.

Eventually Maeda would find himself fighting challenge matches in Brazil, where Gastao Gracie hired him to teach Jiu Jitsu to his son Carlos. For three years Maeda taught Carlos daily, with his younger brother Helio watching from the sidelines. Once Maeda moved on, Carlos and Helio founded the Gracie Academy in Rio De Janeiro, where Brazilian Jiu Jitsu would be born.

Following in Maeda’s footsteps, the Gracies would fight many challenge matches which propelled their art’s popularity throughout Brazil. The Gracies had an open door policy at their academy; anyone could come in and challenge one of the Gracies to a fight. Later, in the 1980s, when Helio’s son Rorion brought Jiu Jitsu to the United States, he would continue that tradition, which he videotaped and sold as Gracie in Action tapes. In 1993, Rorion would found the UFC.

While the Brazilian's didn't invent Jiu Jitsu they did bring a fresh and elegant interpretation to it. They also developed two profoundly important contributions to the art--the guard position, and a strategic framework for how the grappling game should be fought. That framework revolves around three core concepts, which are detailed in the classic Renzo Gracie/John Danaher book, Mastering Jujitsu:

Positional hierarchy
Positional movement
Positional control

Positional hierarchy is the understanding that the various positions we fight from are not equal. Mounting someone, or taking their back is a more dominant position than being mounted or having your back taken. Each position can be ranked according to its relative strengths and weaknesses. That hierarchy is represented in the point system in sport BJJ.

Once we understand the hierarchy of positions, the logical question becomes how do we transition from an inferior position to a superior one? We do it through positional movement. Every escape, pass, or transition we perform in Jiu Jitsu is designed to improve our position.

Similarly, once we've transitioned to a better position, we must retain the new position so we can apply a submission. We do that through positional control. The Brazilians understood that you can not reliably submit someone unless you can control them, or better yet, dominate them, so they built a strategic system to get that control.

All martial arts teach techniques. But without an underlying strategy of movement and control, techniques are far less reliable and effective. The Brazilians understood this. This is the true innovation they brought. They didn't invent the core techniques of BJJ, but they did superimpose a strategy that allowed Jiu Jitsu to be far more effective. Those are powerful components that give BJJ its teeth.

What does Third Way mean?

Any physical attack—a push, a pull, a hold, or a punch, is fundamentally just the kinetic transfer of energy from one person to another. In Jiu Jitsu there are three responses—three “ways” to deal with an opponent’s attack:

You can resist it, you can redirect it, or you can blend with it.

Resisting someone's energy is the most innate but generally least effective because it relies on strength. In the initial stages of Jiu Jitsu, students spend most of their time resisting because everything feels like a threat. At higher levels, the Jiu Jitsu practitioner learns to use resistance in a more purposeful way, with structures instead of strength, and they learn to do it only when it serves a specific purpose, like prompting a reaction or denying an escape path.

Redirecting energy is more sophisticated than resisting because it requires timing and sensitivity. If someone attempts to push you, for example, right as they make contact you redirect their energy into a throw. Their momentum combined with your redirection creates an advantage. Jigoro Kano the founder of Judo said that if a man with only 3 units of energy is opposed by a man with 7 units, the stronger man will win. But if the man with 3 units learns to add his energy to the other man’s 7, he now has 10 units of energy to apply. This is how a smaller, weaker person can dominate a physically stronger opponent.

Blending or flowing with an opponent's energy is the most sophisticated of all. When you blend you become much less affected by someone's size, strength, speed, or other physical attributes, gracefully flowing with whatever momentum they give you. Blending is how a surfer is able to ride a wave. They can't resist or redirect the wave's energy, but they can integrate within the chaos of the wave. The surfer essentially becomes part of the wave. Likewise the Jiu Jitsu artist can integrate with their opponent in fluid movement sequences awaiting the right moment to apply a finishing technique.

Third Way is a reference to the ultimate sophistication: Blending with your opponent.