Nationalism, Immigration and Identity: The Gracies and the Making of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, 1934–1943
State University of Santa Catarina, Brazil, BR
Born and raised in Rio de Janeiro within a family of Lebanese-Brazilian Kodokan judo martial artists, José Cairus has a master’s degree in the African Diaspora from Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro and a PhD in Modern Latin American History from York University, Toronto, Canada. He has conducted research in Brazil, the United States, Canada, Europe, and Africa, with emergent research projects in South America and the Middle East. He has participated in a wide range of collaborative international projects and taught at York University, University of Toronto, University of Guelph and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Currently, he is teaching in Brazil.
This article analyzes the transformation of a modernized Japanese school of martial arts, jujutsu (柔術), also known as jiu-jitsu, jujitsu and/or Kodokan judo, into a Brazilian combat sport. In the 1930s, the Gracies, supported by a nationalist regime, launched a comprehensive process of jiu-jitsu reinvention that evolved into a local combat sport at the same time as the inauguration of the Estado Novo dictatorship in 1937. This study argues that the Brazilian jiu-jitsu is the direct outcome of clashes pitting the Gracies and Japanese immigrants that occurred against a background of radical nationalism, violence and ideological polarization. The creation of a local jiu-jitsu encompassed a wide range of changes in techniques, philosophy and rituals borne from the clash between tradition and modernity.
How to Cite:
Cairus, J., 2020. Nationalism, Immigration and Identity: The Gracies and the Making of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, 1934–1943. Martial Arts Studies, (9), pp.28–42. DOI: http://doi.org/10.18573/mas.105