5 Inspiring BJJ Documentaries You Must Watch

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is widely viewed to be one of the most effective martial arts in the world, and it comes with a rich history and culture. It’s a grappling-based martial art that was developed by Hélio Gracie and his brothers, who trained under a Judoka named Mitsuyo Maeda.

Learning BJJ is lots of fun, and it can be extremely addictive. Once you start training, it’s only a matter of time before you start craving to know more about its culture and history. This article will 5 inspiring Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu documentaries some of the most inspiring BJJ movies. Let’s jump right into our list of inspiring BJJ documentaries:


1) The History Of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Here’s one of the first documentaries you should start with to satisfy your urge to learn more about BJJ. It’s a slow and direct deep dive into the history of Jiu-Jitsu, which led to modern BJJ. It’s filled with facts and the historical relevance of events that lead to the belt ranking system now used in many martial arts.

It starts with a changing of the old guard in Japan as the ancient ways of the Samurai were no longer effective on the modern battlefield. The documentary centres around Jigoro Kano, a small man who was often bullied as a child, and his search for effective ways to defend himself at a time many martial arts had been rendered obsolete.

The documentary chronicles how Kano struggled to find masters willing to teach him until he eventually ran into one willing to teach him Kodokan Judo. The documentary also links Kano’s disciple Mitsuyo Maeda, who later moved to Brazil and trained the Gracie brothers, Carlos and Hélio.

The History of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is excellently narrated and it’s one of the most informative BJJ movies you’ll ever find. You’ll have a significantly better understanding of BJJ and its origins after viewing this documentary. It’s available for free on YouTube.


2) Choke

You can’t call yourself a hardcore BJJ player if you haven’t seen this movie. It’s one of the first BJJ documentaries ever produced and it gives an inside look at the lifestyle of a young Rickson Gracie as he made his rounds in the Japanese MMA circuit.

It’s a captivating glimpse into the mind of one of the greatest BJJ players to ever live. We get to see Rickson’s poetic side as well as his ultra-focused competitive side. We also get to see how every victory he has inside the cage, solidifies the status of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu as one of the most effective martial arts ever developed.

The documentary also shows the not-so-pleasant side of mixed martial arts as Rickson is often seen battling with forces trying to control him. From his family’s wishes to promoters looking to build their fighters’ names off him.

Some would argue that this documentary did more to build Rickson’s Gracie’s mystique-clad legacy in mixed martial arts. It shows him as a true martial artist who wasn’t impressed with the bright lights of mixed martial arts, yet felt a need to showcase his skills to the world.


3) Roll: Jiu-Jitsu In SoCal

This documentary dives into BJJ’s roots in the U.S., and its link to the Southern California area. It’s a well-produced documentary that takes you on a tour of some legendary BJJ spots, like the original Gracie Garage where they taught their first students and held many Gracie challenges.

The documentary also interviews many of their first students, like Scott Nelson who went on to make their marks on BJJ as well. Roll does an exceptionally good job of transporting us back to the early 80s through the eyes of fresh-faced BJJ students in a world where striking arts like Karate and Kung Fu were widely considered to be the most effective fighting styles.


4) Royce Gracie Jiu-Jitsu – The True Story Of UFC 1

royce gracie

You’ll love this documentary if you’re a fan of BJJ who also enjoys mixed martial arts. It focuses on the first Ultimate Fighting Championship tournament, which turned out to be a monumental moment for mixed martial arts.

It features interviews with Royce Gracie, who represented Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu at the tournament, and its founders Rorion Gracie and Art Davies. It’s filled with nostalgic moments that will keep any BJJ fan at the edge of their seat as it takes you back to the 1993 tournament that would forever change how martial arts are viewed. It details how Royce overcame centuries of bias favouring striking-based martial arts, by making them all look obsolete next to BJJ.

You get to learn how they came about the idea of fighting inside a cage and several crazy ideas that never materialised like the cage being electrified. Yes, that was actually considered.

It gives a detailed look at the one single event that tremendously impacted mixed martial art. Fast-forward three decades later, and mixed martial arts is now a legitimate sport that’s covered by all the major sports networks. There have even been talks of MMA being added to the Olympic Games.

Royce Gracie Jiu Jitsu – The True Story of UFC 1 is an absolute must-watch for any BJJ and MMA fan. It gives you wonderful breakdowns of one of the most important moments in BJJ history. Countless people worldwide started training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu thanks to Royce’s inspiring performances at the tournament despite being significantly smaller than all of his opponents.

You get to watch Royce and Art relive their fight together while the former informs him that was his first professional fight. You get to see BJJ Jiu-Jitsu in its full glory and develop a better understanding while people think it’s the most effective martial art ever developed.


5) Jiu-Jitsu Vs The World

This should be your go-to documentary for times you need a little extra motivation to train or want to convince your buddies to give Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu a try. The documentary features regular people who train and how the lifestyle positively impacts them outside the dojo.

It’s a feel-good documentary that shows people overcoming personal issues like addiction, abuse, and low-self esteem by training BJJ. It’s the type of documentary you want to show your parents if they’re giving you a hard time about learning martial arts. It’ll win anyone over.

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