Posts Tagged ‘jiu jitsu’

The First American to Earn a BJJ Black Belt

Craig Kukuk was the first US native to achieve the rank of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt (1992) by Royler Gracie. Kukuk is also the co-author of one of the very first Jiu Jitsu instructionals, the “Renzo Gracie – Craig Kukuk Brazilian Jiu Jitsu” a historical piece of footage that helped advertise Jiu Jitsu in America in a time when the sport was not yet spread countrywide.

Craig Kukuk Jiu Jitsu


Lineage: Mitsuyo Maeda > Carlos Gracie > Helio Gracie > Royler Gracie > Craig Kukuk

Weight Division: Super Heavyweight (100kg/221lbs)

Craig Kukuk Biography

Craig Kukuk was raised in California, United States, becoming a high school wrestler before joining the Gracie Academy in the 1980’s. Craig got very involved with Gracie Jiu Jitsu, learning from Rorion Gracie for many years, earning all his belts up to brown belt from Helio Gracie’s son.

By the time Kukuk was ready for his black belt, Rorion advised Craig to visit Brazil and train there to gain more experience. It was in Brazil where he trained at the original Gracie Academy in Rio de Janeiro. This is the place where great champions such as Rickson & Royler Gracie learned much of their fighting knowledge. There in Brazil Craig received his black belt from the hands of Royler Gracie thus becoming the very first American black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

Upon his return to the US and after a short spell being an assistant instructor of Rorion Gracie,  Craig decided to move to the East Coast. There he opened a few gyms in that area. Shortly after Craig brought Renzo Gracie to partner up with him at his New York gym they two formed a strong partnership and together they launched one of the most successful Jiu Jitsu instructional at the time, the aforementioned “Renzo Gracie – Craig Kukuk Brazilian Jiu Jitsu”. It is rumored on the internet that this instructional and the fees involving this video effort were the root of the break-up between the two instructors at the time. Though the actual reasons behind this bitter separation are still somewhat of a taboo subject within the BJJ community.

Craig has most recently created  On-Line private classes in submission grappling and BJJ and currently devotes most of his time to these classes and his academy in Boise, Idaho.

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Western Mass BJJ: Is BJJ Truly the Most Effective Martial Art in the UFC?

Most experts would say, YES.

Click here to find best BJJ School in Western MA

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is revered as the most thorough and comprehensive martial art practiced in the world today. With its core rooted in practical self-defense and real life scenarios where ground technique is necessary for survival, BJJ gives any fighter the ability to compete on an equal plane with their contender with very little regard to size, skill and speed.

Because of it’s reputation of being so effective and results-driven, naturally, Jiu-Jitsu techniques are becoming increasingly popular. The art of BJJ has been slightly altered to better serve the military, police, and law enforcement across the globe. Changes have been made taking the focus off of street fighting, while instead highlighting more specific confrontational situations that these organizations primarily deal with. The main goal is to gain control of those they’re aiming to apprehend, while significantly reducing the risk of harm to both parties. It is useful with restraint procedures, weapons control and disarmament. What makes it so successful in these circumstances is that it can be incorporated into training programs with ease, while the techniques are both extremely effective and comprehensible. The trainee does not need to be an advanced student in order to grasp the concepts and use them with accuracy – a necessity for the officer to be confident in their ability to execute the technique properly.

Developed to encompass the unpredictable nature of a street fight, BJJ’s self-defense component includes techniques such as grabs, holds, submissions, and previously mentioned weapons disarmaments. These techniques can be especially valuable to females found in compromising positions, defending against abuse and rape versus larger individuals. Through the development of the UFC, BJJ has been able to prove itself as the most effective martial art. By being able to compare the techniques of BJJ to other methods used in real fight scenarios (situations where the fight ends up on the ground, making punching and kicking difficult to execute) it becomes extremely evident that the BJJ techniques reign supreme, as match results dictate.

Perhaps most important, is that those who train BJJ, train against an opponent at full strength. Most martial arts cannot be practiced against an opponent at full strength, making it scenario-based, as opposed to actually being real life. BJJ students are afforded the opportunity to train at 100% capacity, thus developing their techniques fully. By training against active opponents, the success rate for defense in real situations increases drastically because you’re able to train in the follow-through, completing each move until your opponent taps.
*Citations: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu by Mark Walder