Keenan Cornelius redefines Jiu-Jitsu origins, advocates for “American Jiu-Jitsu”

Renowned Jiu-Jitsu practitioner Keenan Cornelius has sparked a paradigm shift by rebranding his style as “American Jiu-Jitsu,” aiming to distinguish it from conventional BJJ. In a recent revelation, Cornelius asserts that this alteration has significantly contributed to the success of his academy.

While some within the Jiu-Jitsu community have previously explored innovative approaches to set themselves apart, Cornelius’ adoption of “American Jiu-Jitsu” stands out. This move, reminiscent of Eddie Bravo’s establishment of 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu, raises intriguing questions about the evolution of Jiu-Jitsu styles.


Cornelius, in a video, asserts that his academy has become the most reviewed gym globally after replacing the term ‘Brazilian’ in Jiu-Jitsu with ‘American.’ The unconventional expression, “American Jiu-Jitsu,” has garnered attention, prompting curiosity and skepticism within the Jiu-Jitsu community.

Despite initial skepticism, Cornelius presents historical research to support his claim. Utilizing the Library of Congress, he conducted a search through American newspapers, revealing that the term “American Jiu-Jitsu” predates “Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu” by several years. The search yielded results dating back to 1914, a period that significantly predates the birth of Helio Gracie in 1913 and his initiation into Jiu-Jitsu.

Cornelius highlights the absence of any references to “Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu” in the search results, emphasizing that the term was seemingly absent from American discourse during that time. He presents evidence, including old newspapers, manuals, and magazines, showcasing the prevalence of the term “American Jiu-Jitsu” in the early 20th century.

This historical perspective challenges the conventional narrative, suggesting that “American Jiu-Jitsu” existed independently and chronologically precedes the widespread acknowledgment of “Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.”

Keenan Cornelius’ initiative to embrace “American Jiu-Jitsu” reflects a bold departure from tradition, inviting discussions on the cultural and historical aspects of martial arts nomenclature. Whether this rebranding trend will gain broader acceptance or spark further debates within the Jiu-Jitsu community remains an intriguing aspect to watch.