Whether you’re new to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and are looking to learn more about this martial art, or are a seasoned practitioner looking to watch footage of some role models and idols in the sports, there are plenty of great BJJ documentaries out there. Since new movies come out all the time, and things change and evolve in the scene, here is a list of the best Jiu Jitsu documentaries to watch in 2022.
The 1999 classic still reigns supreme as one of the best Jiu Jitsu films out there. But beyond just being a good BJJ documentary, it’s also a great documentary in its own right.
It follows Rickson Gracie, one of the Gracie clan who are responsible for creating BJJ as it is known today, as he gets ready for a fight. However, this is not just any match, it is a single elimination tournament with eight participants, and it is taking place all in one night.
The Choke documentary is notable for the light it shines on Rickson, as well as on the entire Gracie family. It captures their training style, approach to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, philosophy of competition, and gives great context for their history and present role as major players in the BJJ community.
Most of the film is backstory and build-up to the competition, however, at the end of the hour and a half Choke documentary, real footage from the very intense match is shown. When it came out in the 1990s, this documentary helped to spark an interest in BJJ for an entire generation, and it’s still inspiring new people to take a class in the martial arts to this day.
The Way of Jiu-Jitsu
This is the perfect introduction to BJJ for those that don’t have much familiarity with the sport, but are interested in learning more. It’s also quite short, at just around 20 minutes long, which makes it a great taste of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for those that don’t want to commit to watching something longer.
This documentary gives a cursory overview of many aspects of BJJ. It offers insight into the training process, the techniques of masters, and the general philosophy that surrounds the discipline. There are also numerous notable fighters in the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu scene that are featured in this film, including Royce Gracie, Cobrinha, Randy Couture, and Rashad Evans. It’s a really great primer for anyone looking to quickly study this martial art.
Eddie Bravo: Building an Empire
If you’re looking to watch the best jiu jitsu documentary about a famed figure in BJJ that isn’t centered on one of the Gracies, this is the documentary for you. Eddie Bravo is a major figure in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. He has been a force of innovation in the sport and has developed and helped popularize numerous techniques.
This film will give you a glimpse into the history and mind of Eddie Bravo. It shows how he began learning the martial art, as well as gives insight into the way he now teaches it. His philosophy and approach, as well as his style and thoughts on the current state of BJJ, are all covered in this documentary.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu – The Great Ego Destroyer
This documentary focuses on BJJ through the specific lens of self-improvement. It highlights that Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a discipline that can benefit more than just the body, but also has enormous potential to help people grow and work on themselves mentally.
As a documentary,The Great Ego Destroyer is also notable because it doesn’t put the focus on the famous fighters and the championship-winning athletes that are a small minority of the scene. Instead, it chooses to focus on normal people who are dedicated to BJJ as a lifestyle, and showcasing why it works for them.
This film shows why people make attending BJJ classes such a habit and part of their regular routine, even if they aren’t trying to make it in the sport competitively. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu can be almost addictive because it can help people create better versions of themselves.
Jiu-Jitsu vs. The World
This is another one of the best jiu jitsu documentaries that is ideal for those that are new to the sport of BJJ. It’s especially great as a recommendation from someone already involved in the scene, so it should be the go-to for those that are trying to get a friend to take a class with them.
This one offers a pretty comprehensive picture of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. It discusses the history, lifestyle, and philosophy of the sport. It also illustrates the value of BJJ and the reason to study it. Plus it goes into more niche areas, like the experiences of women and children in the sport.
The overall theme of this film is the positive influence and potential of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. It demonstrates perseverance and the way that exploring this style of fighting can help one improve. It also features tons of prominent figures in the scene in interviews and footage.
The Saint of Crackland
Like Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu – The Great Ego Destroyer, this documentary focuses on the potential of BJJ to have an impact, instead of documenting the stories of tournament champions. However, The Saint of Crackland is unique because its focus is specifically on the way that BJJ can be used to help benefit society as a whole.
It documents a program that helps to benefit kids and young people in the rough and impoverished Cracolandia neighborhood in Sao Paulo, Brazil. This area is notorious for being a hotbed of criminal activity and drug use that ranks globally for its dangerous climate.
The film shows the people behind the program, the students who take Brazilian Jiu Jitsu classes through it, and the way in which it has helped them. BJJ is seen to be a hugely positive influence and an outlet for disadvantaged youths in the area.
Roll: Jiu-Jitsu In SoCal
This one stands out because it takes a look at a very specific part of the (already niche) Brazilian Jiu Jitsu sport. Roll shows how BJJ took off in the States, and specifically hones in on the martial art’s impact in Southern California, and the community that developed.
It transports the viewer into the 1980s, and really showcases the experience of students learning this unique fighting style when Karate Kid and kung-fu movies were the popular draws to martial arts.
It doesn’t focus on many specific famous athletes, but it does give profiles of significant places in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu history, and gives nice insight into how the sport grew and carved out a place in American culture and society.
Franjinha And The House Of Paragon
Ricardo “Franjinha” Miller is a major player in the BJJ scene. Not only is he known for being a strong and skilled competitor, he also has established himself as one of the best instructors of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu after founding Santa Barbara’s Paragon Academy in the late nineties.
But, success did not come easy to him. His story is one filled with struggles and speed bumps. However, the resounding message is one of perseverance and triumphing over obstacles. This documentary takes the viewer through Franjinha’s journey and offers an inspiring tale of an underdog.
Brave New World: A Jiu-Jitsu Film
This is a short documentary, and is very different from the rest of the entries on this list. It does not focus on the sport’s community or celebrities, or even its history. Like The Saint of Crackland, it showcases the potential that Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has to affect positive change.
However, this film is very specific to the ways that BJJ can be used to help veterans who have PTSD. It offers insight into the ways that those that practice Brazilian Jiu Jitsu can specifically use their skillset to help this demographic that has sacrificed and suffered for their country.
Renzo Gracie Legacy
If you want an introduction to one of the biggest names in martial arts period, let alone just Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, look no further. This documentary will offer background into his family’s history and the major impact that they have left on the sport, as well as his own relationship with his family, and his specific legacy in BJJ.
The film also shows phenomenal footage of Gracie’s fights and is entertaining for those looking for more Brazilian Jiu Jitsu knowledge or just love a good sports documentary.